Where are all the Hypercars?

Vanwall Vandervell 680 in rFactor 2.png
Sports car racing is a discipline of golden ages: The Group 4 era of the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512, Group C madness in the 1980s, and, more recently, the LMP1 rocketships of big manufacturers battling out on track. The Hypercar era in IMSA and WEC has reignited interest in these big-scale endurance races, as numerous manufacturers have already entered or announced their plans - but the class is still suspiciously underrepresented in sim racing.

Image Credit: Studio 397

Since its debut in 2021, the Hypercar class is running as LMH in WEC and GTP in IMSA, alongside the LMDh class. The difference: Hypercar manufacturers have to build their prototypes and their hybrid systems from scratch, wheres in LMDh, they have to choose from one of four chassis and use a spec hybrid system.

Legendary Manufacturers Return​

This allows for a wide variety of vehicles, and manufacturer interest has proven high, leading to another golden age of sports car racing that has even brought Ferrari back to top-class sports car racing - the iconic Italian marque had been absent since the 1970s. Alongside them, Toyota, Vanwall Vandervell, Peugeot and Glickenhaus have already taken to the track in the LMH class, while Cadillac, Porsche, BMW, Acura have chosen the LMDh route. Lamborghini, Alpine and Isotta Faschini are due to enter with their own LMDh and LMH cars in the future.

That makes for a dozen examples of the fastest prototypes in sports car racing, all with their own, unique take on their designs. Of course, sim racers cannot wait to get their hands on the virtual wheels of one of these missiles on wheels - but there are not many choices in the virtual garages outside of mods yet.

iRacing took the first step when they announced the addition of the BMW M Hybrid V8 LMDh car in late 2022 - even before the actual car had made its debut in competition, which happened at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2023. It is rumored that Porsche's 963 entry could be the next current prototype to find its way into the service.

BMW-M-Hybrid-V8-7.jpg

Image Credit: iRacing

Shortly after iRacing had announced their plans for the BMW LMDh, rFactor 2 followed suit with their rendition of the Vanwall Vandervell 680. At the time, it was not yet clear if the car would be allowed to race in WEC due to a dispute over homologation, which was resolved in time for the 2023 season, allowing the car onto the grid.

Just Two Out of 12​

Unfortunately, this rather short list exhausts all the LMH/LMDh choices in sim racing when it comes to official content as of May 2023. Of course, developing virtual versions of these cars takes time, and it is possible that Motorsport Games' license for an official WEC game might hold back other developers in this regard, much like their IndyCar license did with iRacing and Automobilista 2.

However, to fully capitalize on the growing popularity of both WEC and IMSA due to renewed manufacturer interest, as many of these cars as possible should find their way into more sims, making them more accessible and creating even more excitement for the real series. The LMP1 vehicles in iRacing are a great example for this - even though the the class was slimmed down considerably after 2016 due to Porsche and Audi dropping out of WEC, the cars were still immensely popular on the service in the following years.

Despite all the different philosophies in car design, a Balance of Performance keeps them all somewhat competitive. This might make the LMH/LMDh vehicles great for esports purposes as well - after all, the amount of choice racers get in GT3 is one of the strengths of that class, and it is seemingly everywhere in sim racing. Should the majority of prototypes eventually find their ways into more titles, this might for an exciting alternative.

Your Thoughts​

What is your favorite current prototype? Which sim would you love to race it in? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

Easy answer: in the belly of the most incompetent developer that paid outrageous and out of proportion money for the exclusive licenses, will prevent anyone else from enjoying the content but is incapable of delivering any sim of significance.
Very sad commercial practices indeed and very bad consequences for the community.
Hopefully some other developers get to snatch some licenses directly from tracks/cars IP owners and we can forget MSG for good and they can go bust with no one dropping a tear.
 
It's a mix of reasons:
- Licensing: Thankfully from what I know, MSG hasn't got exclusive licensing for LMH / LMDH, and manufacturers are willing to get their cars into sims that want them. It's just a matter of cost.
- Creating the cars: This is probably one of the bigger reasons that's holding devs back, if they do get the license. Not only is it going to take time for a dev team to recreate the cars, but as this is a brand new formula which is actively racing, teams and manufacturers are quite secretive as to what resources and information is shared with developers incase competitors get hold of info that could give them an edge in real world competition. This makes accurately recreating the cars more difficult, with less reference images, footage, data, clean sounds, etc, to pull from which again in turn makes things more expensive for the dev team. As teams and manufacturers are focusing on their real world race program, it can also slow down the talks between them and developers and giving them the information they want and need.
- Lack of new titles: Over the last couple of years, that hasn't really been any big sim racing titles that has hit the market that feature prototypes and represent them with a good roster of cars. Sure, you have service titles like iRacing, RF2 and RRRE that release content every few months and have included prototypes, but money made from selling individual pieces of content or DLC isn't anywhere near as good as paying for a whole new title.

The cars will come (hopefully sooner rather than later), it's just a matter of when exactly. Assetto Corsa 2 seems like a good candidate for including a good sized roster. Obviously iRacing has more coming but it's quite slow progress and they're hindered by limitations in their engine for representing the classes well. Hopefully MSG actually get their asses in gear and do ship a good WEC title, but there's so little info about it and with everything else going on with MSG, it's very difficult to get any sort of real hope up there.
 
As much as that company can die and won't be missed, motorsport games is not to blame for the under-representation of hypercars in sim racing, them having the exclusive license for the WEC championship doesn't give them control over the cars' IP, the manufacturers can still license them themselves.
Just look at CodeMasters and EA, they have the exclusive license for Formula 1 and that didn't prevent Kunos from getting Ferrari F1 car licenses for AC and iRacing from getting the W12 and W13.
UnitedRacingDesign also was able to license Glickenhaus' hypercar despite MSG owing the exclusive WEC license for at least a year at that point.
 
I do not like motorsport games at all but they are not to blame for the lack of LMH/LMDh

Unlike the Dallara IR18 the LMH and LMDh are property of the respective trademarked brands, so its up to the devs to reach them out and license the cars.
 
It is true that them having the exclusive isn't preventing separate use of some component of the WEC (like tracks and cars) but their aggressive legal practices (remember the C & D to Niels? and to iracing for Indy500?) will certainly discourage and make it more difficult for others to consider investing in such content.
It is also true that from the technical point they are more difficult to simulate because developers must have a decent hybrid simulation capability which is not widespread.
Iracing has limitation to 8 models in a given race so for every LM(D)H they add they will need to remove one GT3 atm. So probably they will add another model like they had 2x for LMP1 and that will be it.
So we are left currently with RF2 (where we already know we will be drip fed with each model so that in the end the whole content will cost 2x-3x an AAA title) or AMS2 if they can get something to go with their hint at Le Mans coming.
Probably the best horse to bet on for some LMDH content in a relatively short term is AMS2. Possibly some scattered content on RF2
 
I do not like motorsport games at all but they are not to blame for the lack of LMH/LMDh

Unlike the Dallara IR18 the LMH and LMDh are property of the respective trademarked brands, so its up to the devs to reach them out and license the cars.
Yes but LMH "trademark" belongs to ACO which signed the exclusive deal with MSG. Only going to the single car manufacturers you can get the licenses to reproduce their cars "unbundled" out of that exclusive
 
Early days give it time they will come. Plus there is no real hype on hypercars lets be honest. Too much talk about them but I see nothing special. The hype train will die in a few years and it will be just another class of cars. I do not watch WEC/IMSA for LMH/LMDh :O_o:
 
Yes but LMH "trademark" belongs to ACO which signed the exclusive deal with MSG. Only going to the single car manufacturers you can get the licenses to reproduce their cars "unbundled" out of that exclusive
That's only really the class name. Different series' have different rights associated with them, with varying degrees of packaging around a license. They're not all going to be the same.
To use as some hypothetical examples:
- The Indycar license could have the series/championship name, the cars, the teams, the drivers, the race format all under the Indycar license. You sign a deal with them, all that comes with it and you'd just then have to get license agreements for the tracks.
- A series like WEC or IMSA could be slightly different, in that you could have the series/championship name, the teams and the drivers, and the race format and points scoring under a license. But you'd then have to go and separately license the cars in that series with the manufacturers and all the tracks individually.

So in the end, it doesn't really matter that MSG have a license with the LMH trademark. Other developers can still go out and license all the cars in the class if they wanted to, just probably can't call it "LMH" in-game.
 
There are definitely potential creative ways around it, but when a (small?) developer is about to invest money in, say, 3-4 car licenses and the track and then MSG starts attacking you and your community forbidding anyone from streaming a race called "24 Hours of Le Mans" including maybe third party sites like LFM, Racecraft etc, it can be seen as this can be a hurdle in the way of deciding if putting so much money in those licenses.
Add to this that there will be scarce info and additional technical effort (read costs) for the developer to simulate the hybrid properly and you can see where the reluctance comes from.
There will be LMH/LMDH cars in other sims, but probably limited amount and not very soon.
 
for me i can say that these prototypes dont appeal at all, i can't "identify" with them, they are not based on cool sports- or supercars that you can also see on the road.
they are simply exotic cars just like the open wheelers, f1 etc. which also dont appeal to me.
so for me i don't have any desire to race them and there must be a reason why they are not heavily represented in simracing titles. maybe more simracers think like me.
 
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If it is because of Motorsport Games anti-competitively hoovering up licences they had no intention of executing on that is a travesty. They will never deliver a WEC game in a thousand years.
I think the WEC license is different compared to indycar and NASCAR. Let me explain. With all 3 licenses, MG acquired the name rights of the series. This means that all esport events which are officially endorsed by these series or are professional in nature like the iRacing Indy 500 will go through games made by MG, whether this is rFactor2 or an officially licensed game using the name of the series I.g. IndyCar game. However, having this license doesn't include tracks (which still have their own license) and cars which are individual property. To give some examples; the F1 license is owned by EA Codemasters but because the cars are individual property (own design), the licenses are also individual thus iRacing can have the officially licensed Mercedes AMG F1 car. To also give an WEC example, the Glickenhaus is individual property as well thus URD could make an officially licensed Glickenhaus LMH mod. The problem arises when cars are spec. IndyCars are completely spec with the only difference being the engine supplier. Same goes for NASCAR. This means that the cars are also included with the series license. The only thing I don't know is if LMP2 also could count towards this criterion. I think not because multiple series use this class. So even if MG wants to block competition, they can't because the cars of the WEC are not owned by the WEC but rather by their respective brands.
 

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