Written by Evan Veer, Edited by Sameena Khan
After having had a look at the most important details about the Hypercar rules in the first part of this series, let’s have a look at each Manufacturer’s cars individually, where and how many of them will be racing and other exciting details surrounding these projects ahead of the 2023 endurance racing season.
Arguably the most anticipated addition to this extensive roster of competitors is the return of the prancing horse to the top class of endurance racing for the first time in almost 50 years.
From images of the car’s initial tests, we can see it has extremely large rear wing endplates which follow the same shape as the shark fin. The back end has a plank running across the width of the car, which also seems to house the rear lights, while the shape of the front and the headlights give the vehicle an aggressive look. The engine will probably be a twin-turbo V6, although the exact details are yet to be confirmed.
From the first video footage, we can hear a distinctive noise coming from the hybrid system, which could set the Ferrari’s sound apart from the rest of the field.
Ferrari’s entire focus is on their factory effort in the WEC, which will be run by AF Corse, who is currently running a total of nine cars in this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans, including Ferrari’s full-season GTE-PRO cars.
Name: Porsche 963
Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8
Porsche’s newest top-class endurance challenger’s name refers to the legendary Porsche 962 - the 1980’s Le Mans legend.
The headlights are made to fit the modern Porsche road car style in models such as the Taycan, while the rear light, which consists of a single strip of light across the width of the car, is similar to newer 911 models.
Other notable features of the 963 include the gap in the shark fin and a side-pod design somewhat similar to the 919 LMP1, although the livery mostly hides this feature.
Ever since the 963’s initial shakedown at Porsche’s Weissach test track last January, Porsche has been far ahead of its fellow LMDh competitors when it comes to testing.
The FIA gave Porsche the opportunity to enter the final WEC round in Bahrain as a one-off entry but they declined, stating that they are instead focussing on their current testing program in North-America.
Team Penske cut their LMP2 campaign short to entirely focus on next year, as they will be running as Porsche’s factory team with two cars in both the WEC and IMSA. In addition to these four cars, Porsche has offered to sell two cars to customers in each championship, bringing their car count up to eight.
Two of these customers are confirmed: current DPi team JDC-Miller in IMSA and Hertz team JOTA in the WEC. Alongside this, it seems likely AJ Foyt racing will take the second IMSA car while the last remaining WEC car remains a mystery. However, it has been reported the previously preferred buyer couldn’t take the deal, which according to some, has put the current GTE team Proton Competition in a prime position to become the final customer team. Still, none of this is officially confirmed.
Name: Peugeot 9X8
Engine: 2.6L twin-turbo V6
The radical wingless Peugeot 9X8 made its racing debut at last month’s WEC 6 Hours of Monza. As can be expected for a racing debut, both their pace and reliability left something to be desired. Still, the team are confident the experience from this race and the remaining rounds at Fuji and Bahrain will put them in a good spot for the 2023 season.
Peugeot has been committed to the WEC as a factory effort for multiple years, and it currently looks like they might also be open to hosting customer teams or adding a third factory car for Le Mans in the future if the opportunity presents itself.
Name: BMW M Hybrid LMDh
Engine: 4.0L twin-turbo V8
As one can expect from BMW, their newest venture into top-class motorsports features a rather large version of the classic BMW ‘kidney grille’, as well as a rather large pair of headlights. In recent testing pictures released by BMW, there’s also a strip of lights running around the grille's outline, making it easily distinguishable at night.
The engine is the turbocharged evolution of the one used in the BMW M3 DTM, which last competed in 2013. The BMW M Hybrid will be run by current IMSA BMW factory team Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing in IMSA starting next year, while 2021 LMP2 Le Mans and WEC championship winners WRT will run the WEC side from 2024 onwards.
A group of fans managed to get a hold of some lap times from BMW’s recent tests in Barcelona. When comparing their fastest lap time to previous LMP2 times, it looks like the car is already capable of running within the required performance window when it comes to single lap pace.
Name: Cadillac V-LMDh
Engine: 5.5L naturally aspirated V8
As the only naturally aspirated engine in the current lineup, the Cadillac sets itself apart and is undoubtedly one of the best-sounding engines of the bunch. The car itself has a unique side shape with some very long lines along most of the car’s length.
Cadillac was the second LMDh brand to hit the track for testing, as factory driver Sebastien Bourdais claims the car is already capable of getting within the performance window.
Cadillac will have two factory efforts in IMSA in the form of Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing, with one car each. At the same time, the Chip Ganassi team will also field a single car in the WEC, which, since the ACO requires manufacturers to have at least one WEC car to come to be able to let their other cars enter Le Mans, secures Cadillac’s future at this race which their parent company General Motors has been very dedicated to, especially with the Corvette brand.
Name: Acura ARX-06
Engine: 2.4L twin-turbo V6
In many aspects, the Acura LMDh program seems to be a continuation of their current DPi effort, both in terms of the way the car looks and who will operate it.
Just like its predecessor, the ARX-06 features an elevated ‘plank’ which connects the front wheel covers and the car’s nose across its full width, and this plank also has part of the lights on it. The main difference compared to the looks of its predecessor is the increase in sharply angled elements, especially around the sides.
As it stands, it seems Acura is only focused on IMSA, continuing their partnership with both Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing, running one car each. Without any WEC commitments, neither of these teams will be allowed to enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the foreseeable future.
Name: Toyota GR010 Hybrid
Engine: 3.5L twin-turbo V6
Toyota Gazoo Racing has been the dominant force in the WEC’s top class since their main competitor Porsche left after the 2017 season. Still, as the competition starts to pour in, it will be challenging for the team to keep their streak. Recent news suggests the team will be debuting a new car as a major evolution from the current GR010, which comes at the cost of giving up their main advantage of having had vastly more mileage on their Hypercar compared to their new-for-2023 competition.
Toyota will still be a favourite for next season with their enormous amount of experience in the WEC, while other manufacturers might have problems adjusting to this new challenge.
Name: SCG 007 LMH
Engine: 3.5L twin-turbo V8 (non hybrid)
As the very first team to announce its commitment to the LMH regulations, this small American team is the passion project of the brand’s founder James Glickenhaus. His dream is to watch his cars compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and take on the fight of the biggest names in motorsports, especially Ferrari.
The car was made with the help of Podium Engineering and Sauber, while the engine was put together by Pipo Moteurs, who combined two straight-four rally engines into a twin-turbo V8. The 007 was initially meant to use a V6 hybrid supplied by Alfa Romeo. Still, this plan fell through after a rule change increased the horsepower required to meet the performance window, which was meant to suit Aston Martin’s Valkyrie Hypercar with its large V12. Alfa Romeo’s engine wouldn’t be able to produce the needed power, so Glickenhaus decided to change to their current non-hybrid V8. However, the rule change was later reversed when Aston Martin paused their program following Lawrence Strolls’ purchase of the company.
The fact that the car was initially meant to have a hybrid can still be seen in the current design, which leaves room at the front for hybrid motors.
Thanks to IMSA’s minimum car sales requirements, it looks like Glickenhaus won’t be able to bring their car to the championship as Jim Glickenhaus intended. Still, it does seem highly likely the team will be returning to the WEC part-time with at least one car. Glickenhaus has also offered to sell a customer car for $2.5 million, which is about $400.000 below the price Porsche has given, although whether this offer remains to be taken.
Regardless of how much we will see of the team in the future, it must be said their presence has made the past two seasons far more exciting, while their performances, including a podium at Le Mans, are no small feat.
Even though we already have an impressive Hypercar count of at least ten in each championship, there are still yet more to come in the future, and possibly even for 2023.
Join us in the third and final part of this series for a look into these prospective entrants, as well as a look back at the projects that never raced.