World Sports Car 2023
1923 was the first 24 Hours of Le Mans and 100 years later the world of endurance racing is treated to another motorsport evolution: The dawn of Hypercars.
The specifications for this new breed of prototypes begin in 2018 and brought the two powerhouses of FIA/ACO and IMSA together on what they called Convergence. With this framework, the cars of their top classes would need very little change to be compatible with their respective series. After many ups and downs in the process, the WEC Hypercar class (LMH spec - Le Mans Hypercar) premiered in 2021, replacing LMP1. With only two manufactures fielding properly homologated cars, the first two years were mostly a dry run for things to come.
2023, IMSA would see 4 manufacturers emerge to start at Daytona under the GTP class (Grand Touring Prototype with LMDh spec - Le Mans Daytona hybrid). WEC would also expand to 4 makes in LMH spec for a total of 8 new Hypercars for the year. This will be the first time in a century that this many manufacturers will be eligible for top class honors at Le Mans; a fitting tribute to the centennial running of the Greatest Race.
Thanks to the tireless work of Storm Gang Simulation and their many partners, we can now experience this incredibly thrilling occasion in simulation. We'd like to thank our partners (listed below) and especially our patrons who have supported us. This work is all because of you.
Additional credits to:
Optical Dream Soft (Slava Oleksii!)
Element1999 / zxd1997
Brian van Beusekom (BrianB)
Alec King and Blitz0
Acura ARX-06 LMDh
What started in the 90's as Honda's first entry into IMSA's GTP prototype racing, has grown into a dominating force that has fought ferociously for podiums through the decades. The success saw future iterations run in IMSA, FIA events and at Le Mans for over 80 wins. The most recent being the dramatic 2022 Petit Le Mans finish which also clinched the manufacturer's championship ahead of rival, Cadillac.
The ARX-06 leaves behind the DPi regulations for the new LMDh specs, featuring a 40 kW (50 HP) hybrid unit and a screaming, 6-cylinder, 670 HP engine influenced by future IndyCar programs. The custom bodywork by HPD Design takes strong cues from the previous ARX-05, including the slasher headlights and double front wing, sitting on a chassis developed by Oreca. The Acura will likely stay in the States for 2023 but there's strong ambition over a parallel program in WEC and Le Mans for 2024.
BMW M Hybrid V8 LMDh
The Bavarian manufacturer makes a strong return to top level sportscar racing after a 20+ year hiatus. The LM V12 was the first foray into prototype racing back in 1998 and was an initial disaster. The LM was practically abandoned mid-season for its successor. the LMR V12, which would go on to take the 1999 Le Mans race in dominant fashion.
Then, BMW disappeared from prototypes, staying focused on touring and GT motorsport predominantly. But that has changed with the advent of new Hypercar regulations. Surprisingly, the Germans went for the IMSA LMDh instead of WEC's LMH ruleset, likely due to cost savings. So, the thrumming V8 stuffed in a Dallara chassis, and its infamous gaping nostrils will use the US series to develop the program before making a full run at the 2024 WEC and Le Mans, where they would love to have a 25th anniversary win.
General Motors has been a stalwart competitor both regionally in the USA and across the world. The GTE program had a tearful departure where the C8 said its last goodbye at a bitter 2022 Bahrain round, while the upcoming GT3 spec version will take its place. On the prototype side, the very powerful DPi-V.R has waged war in IMSA over the last years. The 2022 season saw an epic struggle between their sole, remaining rival, Acura, who edged them out on the farewell tour for the car and specification.
Cadillac was not modest with the reveal of their Hypercar concept which saw elegant, transparent bodywork on the wing and striking aero design that singled the car out as a serious threat in both design and function. While the aesthetics were trimmed back for the race-ready version, the booming V8 roar and strong presence on track are ever present. GM plans to run IMSA for 2023 as well as a full WEC program and will absolutely be going to Le Mans with multiple cars to take the trophy back to America.
Ferrari 499P LMH
No other manufacturer can say they have a history like Ferrari's. Whether you're a tifoso or you hate the brand, Ferrari demands the respect of motor enthusiasts around the world and it's no surprise that they turned heads when they announced their return to official prototype racing after 50 years.
Using the LMH spec, Ferrari debuted their car (fashionably late) and easily stood out as the most elegant of all recent hypercars. Interestingly, it shares the same twin turbo, V6 engine with its GT3 counterpart. The 499P has a semi-permanent all-wheel drive, with an electric motor situated at the front axle, providing 200 kW (272 PS; 268 hp) above 120 km/h (75 mph) (as stipulated by the regulations), and is connected to a bespoke 900 V battery pack, with the ability to be recharged by Ferrari's own Energy Recovery System (ERS).
With Ferrari back in the game, this is the year for Le Mans.
Glickenhaus SCG 007C LMH
This plucky boutique manufacturer, headed by the sometimes-polarizing, Jim Glickenhaus, has been in Hypercar since day one. Striving to capture the essence of 1970's sportscar thrills with modern technology, the SCG 007 has made a lot of fans and a few naysayers.
While they've only had competition with Toyota and Alpine from 2021-22, they're well ahead of the game developing their program. Despite what you may think of the naturally aspirated, V8 RWD, Scuderia Glickenhaus has a lot of miles and track time to be a serious threat to all the newcomers on the grid in LMH.
Peugeot 9x8 LMH
Another big name to come back to the grid. While Alpine was representing France (and will continue to in 2024), Peugeot will keep the French flag flying. And they made one of the biggest eyebrow-raising decisions of all the new entries: They don't use a rear wing.
In a move akin to Nissan's LM Nismo, the 9x8 does things differently. Instead of using the traditional rear wing for their single adjustable aero element, they opted to derive most of their downforce through ground effects and utilizing other elements at the front to control aero grip.
Such a bold design challenge certainly takes work to develop, which is why their partial 2022 WEC season wasn't exceptional. However, Peugeot took a lot of notes and are very confident for a full-fledged 2023 season and Le Mans run.
Porsche 963 LMDh
Porsche is the peanut butter to Ferrari's jelly. The two are iconic juggernauts in endurance racing and motorsport in general. The rivalry is older and more prominent than Enzo's spat with Ford. And bigger than the arm-wrestling Porsche did with Mercedes in the 90's. When Ferrari said they wanted revenge for the beating they took in the 70's, Porsche dinged the bell for round 2.
Leaning full into the heritage of GTP and Group C racing of the 80's (956 & 962), the 963 was developed on the Multimatic chassis for IMSA's LMDh spec. Its own twin turbo V8 blasts the svelte prototype around and it’s likely to be a very strong competitor in both IMSA and WEC for 2023.
Toyota GR010 LMH
The sole manufacturer to see LMP1 run its course and one of the first to join the LMH club, Toyota has shown that they are a racing brand. While they may not have some of the same, glorious history in world sportscar racing as others in this list, they absolutely know how to win and never quit.
Since the inception of Hypercar rules, Toyota was ready to go toe to toe with everyone from Aston Martin to Glickenhaus and beyond. The GR010 dominated the 2021 and 2022 Le Mans and WEC (winning all but two races). With so much backing and on-track experience, Toyota will be a powerhouse in 2023.
Acura NSX Evo GT3
Honda’s luxury brand has a rich heritage in the NSX line. The first “cheap supercar” of the modern age transformed into something that is not so cheap anymore. The 2022 version of the car will be the last in production through 2024. The chassis will continue to be provided by the Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, while the final assembly is completed by JAS Motorsport in Milan, Italy.
The original NSX GT3 was introduced in 2017 and since then, it has achieved 25 class wins in IMSA GTD and SRO GT competitions. It’s currently defending the titles in both competitions as a manufacturers’ champion. Relying solely on a lightly modified version of the production model’s 3.5-litre twin turbocharged V6 engine to produce 550 HP and 644 Nm of torque.
Ford Mustang GT3
The What? That’s right, The Blue Oval has teased their interest in joining the burgeoning ranks of GT3 with the Mustang for some time. While their last remaining production car (state-side) races as a GT4, Ford has indicated a return to GT3 would be very likely, especially after eyeing an LMDh program (perhaps a Lincoln hypercar?). After some flopped attempts to add the Mustang to the class between 2007-2011 and killing off the Ford GT GTE program in 2019, it’s time the manufacturer came back to racing on the world main stage. Of course, nothing but a throaty V8 will power this stallion.
Lamborghini Huracan Evo 2 GT3
Lamborghini has an incredibly strong showing in GT3 and GTD around the world. The Italian marquee is one of the most visually radical designs, maintaining the age-old wedge shape. The Evo 2 has taken visual cues from the Super Trofeo version of the car, which was the basis for the 2022 car. Historically, The GT3 Evo’s follow the Super Trofeo versions from the previous generation with some other enhancements. While equipped with a 5.2L NA V10, the Huracan is actually on the light side, at around 1230kg and a popular choice for pros and ams alike.
Lexus RC F GT3
The Lexus RC F GT3 made its debut in the GT Daytona (GTD) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. It has taken several class victories and poles through its lifetime, allowing Toyota’s luxury brand to stand shoulder to shoulder with their Japanese rival, Honda/Acura. While support is being pulled in Europe, the US program is still very strong as well as privateer programs. The weight is maxed at 1300kg and the car is powered by a powerful 5.4L V8 pumping out 500 HP.
Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3
Little has changed in the GT-R’s design through the years. Nissan isn’t much for rocking the boat, especially when it comes to a winning formula. Must be cousins with Porsche. The GT-R line comes from a rich lineage of tuner-culture-turned-pro racing. Originally launched in 2012, the car has continued with only minor evo’s and updates to the exterior. Much has been done under the hood and below the running boards, however. The GT-R has won in Japan and crushed the Blancpain Endurance championship. In 2016 it won all 6 races of the Super Endurance Series. It has finished The 24h of Spa 4 years in a row and 24h of Nürburgring 3 years in a row. The smaller 3.8L VR38DETT still cranks out a strong 540 HP at 6500 rpm making this a Godzilla to be feared.