Updated: October 7, 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 and Le Mans Daytona hybrid 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.

What are the differences? 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 Hypercar
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 Performance) 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. Powertrain

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

Tired to convert power units? Try out our live unit converter!

In the LMH class, Peugeot will use a 2.6-litre, turbocharged V6 engine (revealed) and Glickenhaus a turbocharged 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 combined power output is capped to 680 hp. The LMH hybrid system can deliver power to front and/or rear wheels, while LMDh hybrid system can only be used to the front wheels.

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

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 (accordingly to car manufacturer wishes) from an existing, road legal hypercar or vice versa. Toyota, for instance, will market a hypercar (cancelled due to crashes), based on their LMH prototype. The LMDh platform (chassis) should be common to many teams, and exclusively built by Dallara, Oreca, Multimatic or Ligier. For the record, 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 regulated (2,000 mm and 5,100 mm respectively).

5. Aerodynamics

Toyota GR010

LMDh bodywork and so, aerodynamics, are regulated (e.g. downforce/drag ratio 4:1). However, competitors are allowed to use an identified bodywork, following the brand identity. The bodywork regulations aim to come back to the 90s, with distinctive, identifiable and conventional cars (even if it’s yet not the case in 2021).

In the LMH category, the technical rules offer more liberty. Except for safety issues, aerodynamics 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. 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 Hypercar
Peugeot 9×8 Hypercar

6. 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. 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 (if there is one) and can deliver up to 200 kW to one end. Meaning that LMH cars can be either 4 wheel drive or exclusively rear wheel drive. 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 Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh start?

The Le Mans Hypercar series is set for 2021 while the LMDh should enter the competition in 2023.

8. List of competitors

Here is a small table that recaps every competitor:

LMHLMDh
Toyota (2021)Audi (2023)
Glickenhaus (2021)Porsche (2023)
Alpine (2021 – LMP1 conversion)Acura (2023)
ByKOLLES (2022)BMW Motorsport (2023 – IMSA)
Peugeot (2022) – 24h of Le Mans in 2023Cadillac (2023)
Ferrari (2023) with AF CorseAlpine (2024)
Bugatti (rumour)Team Penske/Porsche (likely)
Ford (rumour)
McLaren (likely)
Lamborghini (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 faster than LMP1 cars?

No, they are slower. The ACO has estimated lap times in a 3:20 range on the 24h Le Mans track. After the 2021 24h of Le Mans, the conclusion is clear: LMH cars are 8.643 seconds slower than 2020 LMP1 cars in qualifying.

This is mainly due to fixed weight (1,030 kg) and power output (680hp). In comparison, the new Toyota GR 010 (LMH) is 152 kg (17%) heavier and has 32% less power than the 2019 Toyota TS050 Hybrid (LMP1). In the simple power/weight ratio, physics tell these new racing cars are slower.

However, collected data shows that the gap isn’t that big: just under 2 seconds on a shorter track (e.g. 6 Hours of Spa Race). Looking at the chart below, here is a lap time comparison between categories at the 2021 24h of Le Mans 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: 11 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 battles between those new racing cars, in which we have high hopes, we still have to wait a few months (years for LDMh).