Its flashy name is matched only by its mission: to save automotive endurance. The new Hypercar category is being measured for the first time at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from Saturday 21 August (4 p.m.). Above all, it promises a bright future with the return of big names in the automotive industry, far from Sarthe like Peugeot., who will be there in 2022, Ferrari, Porsche, Audi or even BMW. A bunch of new competitors to compete for victory at Toyota within one to two years. Franceinfo: sport summarizes what you need to know about this revolution.
Reduce costs to attract large builders
Less light, less fast and less expensive, here are the Hypercars. Announced in 2019, the new premier class was to seduce at all costs in a World Endurance Championship (WEC) which had seen its vital forces gradually die out to leave Toyota alone against valiant but limited private teams. Exit therefore the LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype), attractive but at a tremendous cost and limited operating window.
However, a good compromise remained to be found to attract large-scale manufacturers to an inexpensive project, which could allow them to compete in WEC as well as in IMSA (the North American championship). This ping-pong game between Le Mans and Daytona therefore gave birth to the Hypercar category, where two types of cars will be able to compete on an equal footing.
One category, two philosophies
Starting from a blank sheet or having a turnkey prototype chassis, this is the choice given to manufacturers. In the Hypercar category, LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) and LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h) will coexist from 2023. The former, an option chosen by Toyota, Peugeot and Ferrari, are designed entirely by the brand with its own chassis, free bodywork or inspired by a road hypercar model marketed with or without a hybrid engine. These LMHs, like the Toyota GR010 Hybrid or the Glickenhaus 007, are the ones we can see at Le Mans this year. Peugeot already presented its breathtaking 9X8 last July and will compete in the 24 Hours in 2022.
The LMDhs will have in common a chassis supplied by Multimatic, Oreca, Dallara or Ligier as well as a standard hybrid system. The manufacturer will then only have to add an engine and a body of his creation. To balance everyone’s chances, the regulator will be based on a “Performance balance” where the power, weight and quantity of on-board energy can be modulated. Audi, Porsche and BMW have already announced that they will be at LMDh in two years.
Cars slower than before
Technically, the Hypercars are a leap back from the LMP1s whose performance peaked when Kamui Kobayashi on Toyota set the new Le Mans track record in 2017 in 3’14”791 at average speed. of 251.9 km / h. To return to a target time of 3’30 ” per lap on the Le Mans circuit, the legislator has put the foot on the brake and set some constraints that reduce performance.
The minimum weight was increased to 1030 kilos when an LMP1 weighed 875 kilos (855 kilos for a non-hybrid). The power has also been revised downwards with 500 kilowatts allocated (around 680 horsepower) against 585 previously. If the loss of speed is real, qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans has proven that these Hypercars have potential.
In addition to his fourth consecutive pole position which places him one unit behind Jacky Ickx, record holder for the year in the Sarthe, Kamui Kobayashi played against the clock on Thursday with an excellent 3’23”900, a sign that the Toyota GR010 Hybrid had not revealed all of his cards.
Toyota favorite for Le Mans premiere
First in line with its GR010 Hybrid, Toyota is widely favored to open the counter in a Hypercar at Le Mans on Sunday. Without real competition, the two Japanese cars, n ° 7 and n ° 8, will have above all to fear reliability problems (Monza) and driving errors (Spa) which have sometimes affected it in previous races while their duration did not exceed eight hours, or a third of the classic Le Mans. During the various sessions of the week of Le Mans, the Toyotas have also experienced several fears and a big exit from the track for Kazuki Nakajima.
Clearance is therefore mandatory because Alpine enjoys extreme reliability with its A480, the former Rebellion which signed a podium in the Sarthe last September. Classified in Hypercar, the beautiful blue takes advantage of the regulations which allow the ex-LMP1s to race for another season to put pressure on the GR010. A nice stroke for Philippe Sinault who can clinch the jackpot on Sunday, which would give even more credit to a commitment of the French brand in LMDh.
In a category with a still thin workforce, it still floats like an air of renewal, a fragrance from the 1960s and 1970s thanks to the two Hypercars by James Glickenhaus. The wealthy American, stetson on his head and a broad smile in the paddock at Le Mans, has embarked on a daring bet with his two SCG 007s.
Starting from its road version, it has developed two Hypercars which are reminiscent of the legendary Lola T70s. People’s favorite, the Americans have done well and have a top speed higher than the Toyota. Without recurring brake problems, they would have had their say for a place on the podium, but the double clockwork should allow LMP2s to burn out their politeness and why not invite themselves into the final trio. .
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