The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship has confirmed that it plans to introduce hybrid powertrains to the top-tier Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class from 2022 onward.
IMSA and a board known as the DPi Steering Committee confirmed to Sportscar365 this weekend that they are currently looking at introducing a hybrid system of some sort when the reformed DPi regulations, known as DPi 2.0, are decided on in a couple years’ time. The DPi 2.0 would retain the LMP2 chassis specs the current DPi cars use.
Sportscar365 also reports that the DPi Steering Committee is giving a serious look at introducing a 48V mild hybrid system in DPi, although it’s also sees higher voltage systems as a possibility. All-wheel drive cars with sophisticated electric front axles are already off the table, however, as systems such as these would make DPi cars far too complex and expensive.
IMSA is instead targeting a standardized hybrid system for the DPi class that would be made by a single supplier. The series is targeting a rental cost of $100,000 per season for the standardized hybrid setup.
While spec parts are against the ethos of the DPi class, manufacturers would still need to figure out the best way to integrate their hybrid system into their chassis. This would help retain the engineering element of competition with regard to the hybrid system.
48V starter-generator systems are expected to become more commonplace in the near future. Systems like this use a 48 volt electric motor in place of a 12 volt alternator, which is connected to the engine via a belt. The system enables very quick start-stop operation, which allows for seamless engine off coasting. It can also recuperate electric energy when coasting and store it in a small battery. Tech like this may allow a DPi to achieve fuel efficiency gains when entering and exiting the pits, for example, or when the driver is using a lift and coast technique to execute their desired fuel strategy.
A 48V mild hybrid system could tempt General Motors to remain in DPi from 2022 onward. Much like Ford, the automaker is ramping up its electrification efforts, so it could potentially want to race a hybrid car to help market the technology. Ford has also given thought to the DPi 20 regulations and has been adamant that hybrid tech be apart of the equation. GM has not yet given official word on the future of the Cadillac DPi-V.R program or its involvement in prototype racing.