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Balancing Act: LMDh Plans for Car Count, Tech and More

In this Third of a Series, the Many Considerations about the New Class for 2023 Are Discussed


By Jeff Olson


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The box is about to be shaken and turned upside down, its contents spilled. Some of it looks familiar, but it’s in different places. Nothing is the same, really. Nothing, that is, except the change.


The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is in the early months of a significant change. In 2023, the series’ top class will include LMDh, a hybrid-based platform developed jointly by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) that has already drawn the interest of multiple manufacturers and teams.


The change itself sounds straightforward and direct, but the prospect of adding a new class presents complicated challenges for teams and manufacturers. The change requires long-range planning, which is already under way for those who have announced their LMDh intentions.


But change is their strength, team officials say, so it might not be as overwhelming as it appears.


“I don’t think it’s as daunting as people want to make it,” said team owner Wayne Taylor, whose Wayne Taylor Racing has not been confirmed yet as an LMDh team, but fully expects to participate. “It’s not that daunting. The only thing that’s daunting is the question of whether we’ve designed and built a car that can win all the races.”


At its core, motorsports is about evolution. Over the course of a century, sports car racing has gone from the sparse 1914 Vauxhall Prince Henry, widely regarded as the first sports car, to complicated, state-of-the-art machines that implement the latest technology.


The more complicated and expensive the race car, the fewer are built. LMDh, which crosses sanctioning bodies and has commitments so far from five manufacturers and three teams in the WeatherTech Championship, appears to have found the proper fit between tech and car count.


“That’s how motorsports has evolved through the years,” said Tim Cindric, president of Team Penske, which will field Porsche LMDh cars as Porsche Penske Motorsport beginning at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January 2023. “There’s a balance in that, for sure, between car count and technology. People talk about budgets, but really from a racing perspective, it’s always a balance of what the car count is going to be.”


Reaching that delicate balance was a part of the plan. Teams and manufacturers were consulted in the process to match specifications across different series.


“We have IMSA listening – we have a lot of discussions with IMSA people – and they ask us a lot; what we think, how it’s going to go in each direction,” said Mike Krack, head of the BMW M Motorsport group that has also committed to an LMDh program. “They are always very interested with their partners to improve the show. This is actually a perfect match. It’s why we are here so long.”


NEXT IN THE SERIES: The preparation for LMDh has barely begun, but the focus is on winning with it. “We’re always trying to figure out how to get more out of what we have,” says Gary Nelson, Action Express Racing’s team manager.