New 2020 FIA rules encourage more road-legal supercarsby Ben Hsu
Design will take center stage, and strengthen the link to road cars.
New regulations for the top-class of Le Mans prototypes promise to made endurance racers more relevant to road cars, and perhaps will usher in a new era of street-legal supercars.
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the sanctioning body that organizes the World Endurance Championships, announced new regulations self-described as "revolutionary" just prior to this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The new, as of yet unnamed top class of race cars will prioritize design and provide more "marque cachet" for the manufacturers.
To show just how far they were willing to go, the announcement emphasized that "aerodynamics cannot take precedence over aesthetics." Presumably, this will result in cars that look less like spaceships and more like the wares of the participating manufacturers. The directive will likely result in more road cars based on the racers as well.
In addition, all cars will have hybrid powertrains mandated, along with a KERS system and all-wheel-drive. However, the internal-combustion engines can be of any layout and have "no restrictions."
So far, Toyota, McLaren, Ford, Ferrari and Aston Martin have signed on and have helped in writing the regulations. Toyota is the only company to have actually provided a hint of what such a car could be, and confirmed that a road-legal homologation supercar is bound for production.
The new class will begin in 2020 through 2024. The first Le Mans race under the new regulations will take place in 2021.