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IMSA's top class cleared to compete at Le Mans in 2022

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — IMSA will create a new car for its top class that will be eligible to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by 2022.

The new car will be called the Le Mans Daytona h and be eligible for teams to compete for both the FIA World Endurance championship and the IMSA overall title.

The North American teams have never been eligible to race for the overall victory at Le Mans, the world's most prestigious endurance race. But the new regulations now open the way for Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi and other top owners.

Ganassi scored a class victory in 2016 with Ford when the manufacturer returned to France to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its iconic 1966 sweep of the race that is featured in the Oscar-nominated “Ford vs. Ferrari” film.

Penske has raced twice at Le Mans — as a driver in 1963 and team owner in 1971.

“He likes winning big events — that’s a big event,” IMSA chairman Jim France said Friday. “Knowing Roger the way I do, I’m sure it’ll be something he’d be interested in doing.”

Penske said he was in for Le Mans.

“Look, we’ve been asking for that for a number of years," he told The Associated Press. “We can run here, we can run at Le Mans, we can run Sebring. Le Mans is one of the things we’ve never won. I’ve been there twice. We need to go and be able to race there and race to win.”

Penske's team of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya won the IMSA overall series title last season. Wayne Taylor Racing, meanwhile, is the defending winners of this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona and the team owner said he will be vying to get to Le Mans in 2022.

“Finally we have a chance to go over and compete for the overall win,” Taylor said. “It's something I've never achieved as a driver, but now as a team owner that possibility is there and I am just hopeful the manufacturers are going to support us in the way that is going to be needed.”

The convergence gives automotive manufacturers the opportunity to compete with the same car at Le Mans, the Rolex 24, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans and even Silverstone. From September 2021 in the FIA WEC and from January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing with the new model LMDh.

The common chassis to both ACO and IMSA will use elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis and be built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.

The car will use a common hybrid KERS system on the rear axle. Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer, which will provide the engine.

France noted the agreement is yet another indicator of the work various motorsports series are doing to strengthen the sport.

“I don’t think we ever really worked against each other, but there’s definitely, from the motorsports standpoint, the way things are changing, we’re all working together to make sure we keep motorsports in a good healthy spot,” France said. “Nothing’s easy, and that’s not easy, either.”

Associated Press

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