The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) was created in 2012 through a partnership between the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the Fédération internationale de l'automobile (FIA). It relaunched and revived long-distance car racing, 20 years after the end of the World Sportscar Championship (WSC: 1953-1992). Each year, in different classes, it recognises the drivers, teams and manufacturers that have scored the most points in their respective categories. 2021 marked the start of a new era for endurance racing, with the introduction of the highly anticipated Le Mans Hypercar category, replacing the LMP1 prototypes.
For the 2023 season, the FIA WEC World Endurance Championship features seven races in the United States, the Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The race times vary depending on the track, from 6h for the shortest (Portimao, Spa, Monza, Fuji) to 24h for the longest (Le Mans). Points are awarded to the first 10 drivers to cross the finish line, based on the following scale: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 pt*. Each car finishing after 10th place is awarded 0.5 points. Lastly, an additional point is awarded in each category to the teams and drivers that take pole position.
The WEC closed-cockpit cars race in three different categories: two categories for prototypes (Le Mans Hypercar & Le Mans Prototypes 2) – vehicles created exclusively for the endurance race – and one categorie for modified production models (LMGTE Am or Pro - Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance).
The drivers are split into four groups based on their track record: Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze. This classification makes it possible to define the crews that can compete in each category.
The major innovation of 2021, the category sees two types of car compete:
- LMH (Le Mans Hypercar, from 2021)
- LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid, from 2022)
The aim is for both types of car to be able to compete against one another in FIA WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as in the US series, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, of which the 24 Hours of Daytona is the highlight.
In 2021, only the Le Mans Hypercars were authorised to compete, with an exception made for private, former LMP1 cars such as the one used by Alpine Elf Endurance Team. Based on the principle of performance windows, where minimum and maximum values are set for areas such as power (500kW), weight (1,030kg) and aerodynamics, the Hypercar regulations give manufacturers complete autonomy in designing their own prototype, with the freedom to opt for different types of architecture. This approach has already convinced Toyota Gazoo Racing, Glickenhaus Racing and Peugeot Sport to commit to the category, before Ferrari and Vanwall join them in 2023. Like the LMP1 class, both hybrid and non-hybrid power units with transmission to either rear or both axles are allowed. Balance of Performance (BOP) will ensure sporting equality is observed between the different models entered.
Starting in 2022, the Hypercar category is opened up to manufacturers that have chosen to compete according to the LMDh regulations. These regulations will feature a shared technical base, requiring the use of a certain number of standard parts. The chassis, for example, must be provided by one of the following four manufacturers: Dallara, Multimatic, Ligier or Oreca. The hybrid system on the rear transmission is also shared. Each manufacturer may however design their own bodywork and their own engine. As with the hybrid Le Mans Hypercars, the LMDh cars will boast a total power (combustion engine + hybrid system) of 500kW for a minimum weight of 1,030kg, once again with BOP ensuring equivalent performance outcomes. Porsche (2023), BMW (2023), Acura (2023), Cadillac (2023), Alpine (2024) and Lamborghini (2024) committed or will commit to the category.
- Minimum weight: 1,030kg
- Balance Of Performance: ensures sporting equality
- Maximum power: 500kW
- Cost control: budget reduced by 80%
- Bronze drivers are not accepted.
This category is particularly popular with independent private teams. All participants must use the same engine: currently the naturally-aspirated V8 4.2L 560hp engine developed by Gibson. Only four chassis are homologated for races: Oreca, Ligier-Onroak Automotive, Dallara and Riley Tech/Multimatic.
- The prototype’s production cost, excluding its electronic equipment and engine, must not exceed €483,000
- Capacity: V8 4.2 litre 560hp
- Minimum weight: 950kg
- Fuel tank capacity: 75 litres
- Goodyear is the only tyre provider
- A crew of two or three drivers must include at least one Silver or Bronze driver.
This includes sports models from leading manufacturers: Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Chevrolet…
In LMGTE Am vehicles are based on a road car with at least 100 units built (25 for a “small manufacturer”, 300 for a carbon chassis). The “racing” version keeps the same lines as the “production” model that it is based on. The engine must keep its original location, direction and positioning. However, it can be moved back for cars when at least 2,500 units are produced during 12 consecutive months. This enables the amateur drivers to compete with the professionals.
- Maximum capacity: 5500cc for normally aspirated engines / 4000cc for turbocharged engines
- Minimum weight: 1245kg
- Fuel tank capacity: 90 litres
LMGTE Am crews: at least one Bronze driver and one Bronze or Silver driver.
- 38 competitors
Lap time achieved by the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2022 polesiter in the Hypercar category