Update: 6 July 2021

The FIA, commonly with the ACO and IMSA added a few lines to the technical regulations of the fastest categories. Yet, many people still don’t know the difference between the Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) and Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) classes. Note this article will be constantly updated.

Text: Luca W. © Images: FIA, ACO, IMSA, Peugeot, Porsche, Toyota ©

Both categories have many things in common, and the objective is to favor the convergence between those two. Why? Because both will be racing in 2022 at the 24h of Le Mans and even in the same category (e.g.: an LMDh car in the Hypercar class).

What are the differences between LMH and LMDh? Which teams are in? Which entries? What are the technical specs? Everything you need to know, now (click to jump on a topic).

1. Basic differences

Peugeot 9x8
Peugeot 9×8 Hypercar

The Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh categories have many shared aspects that we will detail further in this article.

The key distinctness is the cost cap. ACO stated running 2 hypercars will cost 80% less than LMP1 cars. LMDh is an answer from the ACO and IMSA collaboration to teams for cost issues, mainly due to the Covid pandemic but also the development costs that private teams and even constructors can no longer assume. To summarize, it is the DPi 2.0 racing class.

For the record, an LMDh car cost is capped to 1’000’000 € (without the ICE – Internal Combustion Engine), while no budget limits are stated for the LMH category. The final purpose of creating those new categories is to set a BoP (Balance Of Power) so both classes can compete against each other in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) and LMDh can also race in the IMSA Championship.

2. Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh engine

For both categories, constructors (or teams) are free to choose the ICE architecture, capacity and technology. However, its maximum power output is limited to 470 kW (640 hp). Combined to an hybrid system, the power output is pushed to 500 kW (680 hp).

In the Hypercar class, Peugeot will use a 2.6-litre, turbocharged V6 engine (revealed) and ByKOLLES a naturally aspirated V8. Toyota, that introduced the GR010 Hybrid earlier in January, will use a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo engine, providing 680hp to the rear wheels and combining with a 272hp motor generator unit. Obviously, electronic management of power delivery is needed, as the power output is capped to 680 hp.

Comparing with the LMP1 class, there should be a 30% power drop.

Le Mans Hypercar LMDh
Power specifications

3. Weight

Both classes’ cars should weight 1,030 kg, after FIA clarifications. To play with numbers, there should be a 15-20% weight increase, in comparison with the LMP1 cars.

4. Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh platform

The Hypercar (LMH) platform is a prototype, derived from an existing, road legal hypercar (at least 20 units) or vice versa. Toyota, for instance, will market a hypercar, based on their LMH prototype. The LMDh platform should be common to many teams, and exclusively built by Dallara, Oreca, Multimatic or Ligier. Audi and Porsche have partnered with Multimatic to design their platform. The spine (complete car without bodywork, engine, hybrid) is the same as the future LMP2 cars. For example, the wheelbase is common (3,150 mm) and both width and length are caped (2,000 mm and 5,100 mm respectively).

5. Aerodynamics

Toyota GR010

The LMDh bodywork and so, aerodynamics, are regulated. However, competitors are allowed to use an identified bodywork, accordingly to the brand identity. The bodywork regulations aim to come back to the 90s, with distinctive, identifiable and conventional cars (even if it’s not the case).

For the LMH category, the technical rules offer more liberty. Except for safety issues, the aerodynamic and bodywork rules are pretty open, even for the floor. As you can see on the Toyota GR010 (Toyota’s Hypercar), the body clearly reminds us previous LMP1 prototypes.

Peugeot takes another approach on aerodynamics on its new 9×8 Hypercar. Looking at the rear, there’s no wing. For the moment. The regulations only allow one adjustable aerodynamic element and Peugeot, through simulations, turned their heads to another one. The 2022 season will tell more about it because it is very singular for a race car to have no rear wing.

Peugeot 9x8
Peugeot 9×8 Hypercar

6. Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh hybrid system

On one hand, the LMDh category hybrid system is common and can regenerate up to 200 kW and deliver 50 kW to the rear axle. The motor is developped and built by Bosch while power management and energy storage are supplied by Williams engineering. X-trac completes the gearing with the ICE. The hybrid system should not be used at slow speeds and accelerations (at least 120 kph).

On the other hand, the LMH hybrid system is not mandatory. However, considering modern hypercars, it should be almost identical to the road legal car and can deliver up to 200 kW to the front wheels. This might give a performance advantage to LMH cars. However, the hybrid system, like in the LMDh class, can not be used under 120 kph (75 mph).

7. When will the LMH and LMDh start?

The Le Mans Hypercar series is set for 2021 while the LMDh should enter the competition in 2022.

8. List of competitors

Here is a small table that recaps every competitor:

LMHLMDh
Toyota (2021)Audi (2022 or 2023)
Glickenhaus (2021)Porsche (2023)
ByKOLLES (2021)Acura (2023)
Alpine (2021 – LMP1 conversion)BMW Motorsport (2023 – IMSA)
Peugeot (2022) – 24h of Le Mans in 2023Alpine/Lotus (likely)
Ferrari (2023) with AF CorseTeam Penske/Porsche (likely)
Bugatti (rumour)Ford (rumour)
McLaren (likely)
Lamborghini (likely)
Corvette (likely)
Phoenix Racing (rumour)
Proton Competition with Porsche (likely)

Both categories will have an unique tire supplier (Michelin).

9. The FIA December 2020 technical regulations issue

If you are curious enough to go deep into the detailled technical rules, feel free to download the FIA issue of April 2021.

10. Are LMH and LMDh going to be faster than LMP1 cars?

No, they will be slower. The ACO has estimated lap times in a 3:20 range on the 24h Le Mans track. Compared to 2020 LMP1 lap times, there should be an average 5 seconds gap.

This is mainly due to fixed weight (1,030 kg) and power output (680hp). In comparison, the new Toyota GR 010 (LMH) is 162 kg heavier and has 32% less power than the 2019 Toyota TS050 Hybrid (LMP1). In the simple power/weight ratio, physics tell LMH and LMDh cars should be slower.

However, collected data shows that the gap isn’t that big: just under 2 seconds on a shorter track. Looking at the chart below, here is a lap time comparison between categories at the 2021 6 Hours of Spa race.

11. In a nutshell

What can we expect from these new regulations? Actually, a lot of things. Firstly, we assume there will be quite a show because both categories are very close in terms of performance. Secondly, at the moment, there are many teams that approved the programme by joining in: 7 already! Gazing at the constructors enthusiasm may give us a hint that there will be more of them in the future. Also, this programme allows to drastically reduce costs, which allows smaller teams to join in and fight with the big guys. And last but not least, the showcase concept has never been that truthful, because some road technologies will fit the cars and vice versa.

To see the first Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh cars, for which we have high hopes, we still have to wait a few months (years for LDMh).