The new generation of LMDh prototypes, which will be available next season, will be permitted to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship on a non-points basis this year.
The decision was made at the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Bahrain on Saturday “in order to allow a seamless entrance” of rear-wheel-drive hybrids into the championship alongside cars designed according to the Le Mans Hypercar rules.
At the end of this year’s championship, a manufacturer would be permitted to join Toyota, Glickenhaus, Alpine, and Peugeot in the Hypercar class on a race-by-race basis, but the car would not be eligible for points.
In the WMSC bulletin, no additional information was provided, including whether any manufacturer seeking to race an LMDh this year would be needed to fully homologate the vehicle, effectively freezing its specification for five years.
It’s unclear whether either of the two LMDh manufacturers, Porsche and Cadillac, who aim to join the WEC next year, will be ready to compete this year’s championship before it reaches its conclusion in Bahrain in November.
Porsche is the only manufacturer with an LMDh operating ahead of the complete launch of the new vehicle in the WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
However, Penske, which will operate the factory cars in both races, has highlighted the challenges of developing and homologating the car ahead of its anticipated debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona IMSA series opener in January.
Last month, Team Penske president Tim Cindric told Motorsport.com that getting a car created in collaboration with Multimatic Motorsports in Canada ready for Daytona 2023 is a “uphill struggle.”
His remarks came in the wake of delays in the commencement of testing for the Porsche LMDh, which has yet to be awarded a name or a type number.
Its shakedown was pushed back twice, from before the Christmas break to immediately after, due to “supply-chain problems,” which are known to be linked to the one-make hybrid system, according to Porsche.
Porsche did not respond to a request for comment on whether it planned to race the LMDh this year. The Cadillac LMDh will not begin testing until the summer, and will be based on Dallara’s next-generation LMP2 chassis.
The BMW and Acura LMDhs, which are set to debut next year, will only compete in IMSA for the first year of the category.
The WMSC also agreed to a second delay in the introduction of the new LMP2 category, with the new cars racing for the first time in 2025.
The replacement for the current generation of automobiles, which was released in 2017, was originally scheduled for 2023, a year after LMDh was introduced.
Although it was established in September 2020 that LMDh would not be available until 2023, the first postponement of the new P2 cars to 2024 was not confirmed until July of last year.
The new timeline appears to be the result of a reevaluation of the teams’ demands and conversations regarding cost-cutting measures. The tender procedure for the category’s single-make engine has not yet begun.