Le Mans Ultimate: Guide To The Hypercar Class

The definitive guide to the Hypercar class in Le Mans Ultimate.

Have you been longing to get behind the wheel of a Le Mans Hypercar? Well, with the long-awaited release of Le Mans Ultimate, you can finally take LMH cars such as the Ferrari 499P and Toyota GR010 out on track in an official capacity.

As the Hypercar class debuts in the virtual world thanks to Studio 397, you can get behind the wheel of all seven LMH and LMDh cars that contested the 2023 World Endurance Championship (WEC) at iconic venues such as Circuit de la Sarthe and Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

With the Hypercar class growing by the season, it’s become known for its huge variety. There’s a lot to unpack, featuring hybrid powertrains, naturally aspirated engines, vehicles built to two different rulesets, and even wingless competitors that are all pitted against each other through Balance of Performance (BoP). Let’s understand Le Mans Ultimate’s Hypercar class.

What is the Hypercar class?

Hypercar is the premier class in the World Endurance Championship. It was introduced to the series for the 2021 season, taking over from LMP1 which had headed the championship since its inception in 2012. 

As the prestigious Audi and Porsche pulled out of LMP1 in 2016 and 2017 respectively, entries to Le Mans’s top class slowly dwindled, forcing the FIA and ACO to build a more affordable category that aligned closely with manufacturers’ road-going platforms. Thus, Hypercar was born.

The Hypercar class marks a new era of convergence in prototype racing, made up of cars built to either the LMH or LMDh regulations that can run in the American IMSA championship alongside the WEC. 

Sim racers have come to know LMDh cars such as the Porsche 963 and Cadillac V-Series.R from iRacing and Automobilista 2 which feature official IMSA licensing, but the cars currently exclusive to the WEC have yet to be seen in the virtual world – until Le Mans Ultimate’s release.

What is the difference between LMH and LMDh?

When the initial blueprints for the Hypercar class were being drawn up, a golden opportunity for performance unification was presented as IMSA planned to update its premier category, DPi, at a similar time. 

It was announced at the beginning of 2020 that a trans-Atlantic collaboration would allow the informally named DPi 2.0 class, now branded as Le Mans Daytona h (LMDh), to race in the WEC alongside LMH cars with a BoP, signifying a new era of convergence in top-flight endurance racing.

So history lesson out of the way, let’s dive into the key technical differences between the two rulesets:

  • LMDh cars must use spec hybrid systems that deliver power through only the rear axle
  • LMH cars are not mandated to feature electrification (see Glickenhaus and Vanwall). If they do have a hybrid system, electric power must be delivered through the front wheels above a speed set by BoP
  • LMDh monocoques and suspension must be from Oreca, Dallara, Ligier or Multimatic, whilst LMH offers much more freedom, albeit at an increased cost

But what does that actually mean for you? The most notable difference between the two LMDh cars and the five LMH cars in Le Mans Ultimate comes from their powertrains. 

You will need to manage the usage of your electrical power differently when swapping between the two different rulesets as the Cadillac and Porsche LMDhs feature 50KW batteries, whilst the hybrid LMH cars have comparatively huge 200KW systems. 

On the flip side, you will feel the differences in their two-wheel and four-wheel deployment styles, whilst the combustion-only LMH cars will offer a different experience on throttle and in strategy altogether.

The Hypercars in Le Mans Ultimate

All seven Hypercars from the WEC class of 2023 are present in Le Mans Ultimate right now, offering a wide variety of form factors, powertrains and driving experiences. 

LMH cars such as the history-making Ferrari 499P that won the 2023 24 hours of Le Mans and Toyota’s championship-winning GR010 are particular highlights of the class, both of which handle just as good as they look.

These are the Hypercars that feature in Le Mans Ultimate:

  • Toyota GR010 Hybrid LMH
  • Ferrari 499P LMH
  • Porsche 963 LMDh
  • Cadillac V-Series.R LMDh
  • Peugeot 9X8 LMH
  • Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH
  • Vanwall Vandervell 680 LMH

What do Hypercars feel like in Le Mans Ultimate?

When you get out on track, the effect of cold tyres will be a slap around the face, or more likely a firm shove off the track. You’ve probably seen Hypercars squirming around at the beginning of stints in real life and you’re going to be feeling the same thing in Le Mans Ultimate. 

Even with warm ambient temperatures, you’re still going to need a minimum of five laps to fully heat up hard compound tyres and extract their full performance. You will, however, have a choice of three types of Michelin rubber in a Hypercar:

  • The Hard compound offers the best longevity but the worst peak performance
  • The Medium compound offers a middle ground of longevity and grip
  • The Soft compound offers the worst longevity but the best outright pace

Remember that extremely cold tyres means poor braking performance, which is just as pronounced as the general lack of grip you will experience – even LMGTE AM cars outperform Hypercars on the brakes during out laps.

On the whole, you will find that you can hit the brakes relatively hard in one of Le Mans Ultimate’s Hypercars, especially compared to a GTP in iRacing. Weight transfers and the point of losing grip during a slide feel subtly different, owing to Le Mans Ultimate’s rFactor 2-based physics engine.

Additionally, how you manage each car’s hybrid system is complex. You can individually control deployment and regeneration over a lap, adding an extra layer to wheel-to-wheel racing that goes further than three simple modes.

Let’s learn more about each car.

Toyota GR010 Hybrid LMH

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Toyota GR010 HybridLMH3.5-litre twin turbo V6YesYes

Toyota has a recent history of dominance in the WEC, winning the inaugural season of Hypercar in 2021 against Alpine and Glickenhaus before scoring a second successive championship in 2022, all of which followed two years of unstoppable form in LMP1.

After running the GR010 for two WEC campaigns, Toyota made a series of upgrades to their mighty LMH car for the 2023 season, with it winning six of the seven rounds, losing only the 24 hours of Le Mans to Ferrari. With five Le Mans wins under their belts already, though, we’re sure they’ll cope.

In Le Mans Ultimate, the Toyota is predictably fast, featuring a pointy front end and strong overall balance, especially at low and high speeds. 

However, it’s not completely perfect, lacking slightly under traction and with rear-end instability on entry to medium-speed corners – take Campus at Spa-Francorchamps as an example of where you will feel this deficit. 

Here are the Toyota GR010’s key features:

  • No complaints can be made about its overall speed and BoP
  • Has a particularly strong front-end
  • Easy to approach due to its good balance in the majority of cornering scenarios
  • Can struggle with rear grip at medium speed

Ferrari 499P LMH

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Ferrari 499PLMH3.0-litre twin turbo V6YesYes

The 499P is only one year old, but its name is already etched into the history books having taken Ferrari to its first Le Mans win in half a century as the marque returned to top-flight endurance racing. With Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovanazzi taking to the highest step of the Circuit de la Sarthe’s iconic podium last summer, the Scuderia’s Hypercar endeavour with the 499P couldn’t have started any better.

The Ferrari 499P was Toyota’s main competitor throughout the 2023 WEC season and it is therefore similar in pace in Le Mans Ultimate. It feels just like the striking car it proved itself to be when it took pole positions at Sebring and Le Mans in the real world, enjoying a similarly planted front end to the Toyota. 

It feels particularly stable and confidence-inducing in low-speed scenarios, although appears to be slightly on edge in medium- and high-speed corners. As a result, you have to be on your toes when driving the Ferrari 499P, but it can be especially rewarding.

Being a hybrid LMH car, you will notice a certain uniqueness when getting on the power during high-speed corners as the electric power is delivered through the front wheels.

These are its key features:

  • Excellent performance at low speed
  • Aggressive nature
  • Needs to be carefully balanced at high speed

Porsche 963 LMDh

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Porsche 963LMDh4.6-litre twin turbo V8YesNo

The Porsche 963 needs no real introduction to sim racers, but if you’re new to Hypercar, here’s what you need to know.

The 963 is built to the LMDh ruleset, running a Multimatic chassis mated with a twin-turbo V8 taken from the road-going Porsche 918 Sypder. Its debut season was rocky, struggling with tyre wear, occasional instability – made apparent by multiple offs for Porsche Penske Motorsport during the 2023 24 hours of Daytona, its maiden entry – and reliability issues. 

However, as the year continued, Porsche quickly unlocked its full potential, harnessing the flashes of pace it had shown in the first few events of the year and turning it into race-winning speed during the WEC 8 Hours of Fuji and the latter stages of the IMSA season.

In Le Mans Ultimate, the 963 comes into its own at high speed. It is very aerodynamically stable, giving you huge amounts of confidence to really attack corners.

This strength continues into low-speed turns where it appears to soften, becoming much safer and far easier to work with, although this does come at a slight performance loss. Good traction is another notable upside to the 963.

Here are its key features:

  • Fast in high-speed corners
  • Safe at low-speed
  • Stable
  • Lacking slightly in overall pace

Cadillac V-Series.R

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Cadillac V-Series.RLMDh5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8YesNo

Perfectly representing what an American-made prototype should look and sound like, the Cadillac V-Series.R is a striking entry to the Hypercar class. 

It is one of only two LMDh cars on the 2023 WEC grid, although unlike Stuttgart’s 963, it utilises a Dallara-built chassis. However, what really sets it apart is its huge 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, the largest displacement of any Hypercar, that produces a soul-shaking roar that sim racers simply fall in love with. And rightly so.

The V-Series.R is yet to taste victory in the WEC but claimed a podium with Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook at the 2023 24 hours of Le Mans. Across the pond, it won the IMSA title with Wheelen Engineering Racing, proving its potential.

In Le Mans Ultimate, the Cadillac V-Series.R feels stiff and doesn’t suffer from much body roll, which will play to your advantage at tracks such as Monza where you will be running low downforce and need some mechanical support, but to your detriment in some low-speed scenarios. 

It’s noticeably direct as a result and it can be easy to snatch the brakes with, overall putting it slightly behind the Toyota GR010 and Ferrari 499P in all-round favourability.

These are the Cadillac V-Series.R’s key features:

  • Stiff, which can be advantageous in some high- and medium-speed corners
  • Direct
  • Easy to lock up the brakes

Peugeot 9X8 

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Peugeot 9X8LMH2.6-litre twin turbo V6YesYes

The Peugeot 9X8 has had fans talking since it was first revealed in July 2021. Due to the aerodynamic freedom granted to manufacturers by the LMDh and particularly LMH regulations, Peugeot decided to do something different with their Hypercar: remove its rear wing entirely. Focused on producing its downforce via ground effect, the 9X8 is the embodiment of what is possible with an LMH entry.

Despite its eye-catching style, the French manufacturer’s model has had much less to boast about when it comes to results. 

Since its debut in the penultimate round of the 2022 season, the 9X8 has scored only one podium finish, rounding out 2023 with the #93 entry eighth in the championship standings and the #94 an even more distant 11th. 

It showed pace at Le Mans last year and was on course to finish second at the 2024 season-opener in Qatar, only to suffer from a heartbreaking loss of power on lap 334 of 335 in what was the wingless 9X8’s final race.

However, there are more positives to be said about its virtual translation. Whilst it is not the fastest Hypercar in Le Mans Ultimate, it is surprisingly well-balanced in most scenarios and has exemplary low-speed rotation. Yet, understeer plagues its high-speed performance.

These are its key characteristics:

  • Surprisingly good balance
  • Strong front end in low- and medium-speed corners
  • Suffers front understeer at high speed

Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Glickenhaus SCG 007LMH3.5-litre twin turbo V8NoYes

Developed by American high-performance automotive manufacturer Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, the Glickenhaus SCG 007 is one of only two Hypercar entries that don’t feature a hybrid system, taking up the option provided by the LMH regulations to ditch the battery.

Consequently, the Glickenhaus offers a more simplistic driving experience in Le Mans Ultimate, not requiring drivers to balance harvesting and deployment of electrical energy to extract maximum performance. Its power application is arguably smoother than LMDh vehicles in particular, but this advantage is largely hidden by a poor traction control system.

You won’t find yourself struggling to control its rear end aerodynamically, as understeer is one of its most prominent features. The Glickenhaus reacts very well to trail braking though, which helps negate some of its natural weakness at the front end.

In the real world, the SCG 007 competed throughout the Hypercar class’ “lean years” before it attracted the attention of Porsche, Cadillac, Ferrari and Vanwall in 2023, picking up three podium finishes along the way. However, as a privateer entry, a lack of funding left Glickenhaus vacant from entry lists at the end of last year before it confirmed it would not enter the WEC in 2024.

Here are the Glickenhaus SCG 007’s key characteristics in Le Mans Ultimate:

  • Struggles under traction
  • Suffers from innate understeer
  • Reacts well to trail braking

Vanwall Vandervell 680

CarRulesetEngineHybrid?Exclusive to LMU?
Vanwall Vandervell 680LMH4.5-litre naturally aspirated V8NoYes

Vanwall Racing Team’s Vandervell 680 LMH competed in the WEC for only a short period, racing across the 2023 season after it was rejected entry the year prior because it had not completed its homologation process before being rejected entry again for 2024, this time without public explanation.

The privateer’s green machine took a best finish of eighth at the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring and was even driven by Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve for the first three rounds of the year. With Jenson Button joining the Hypercar class with Jota Sport in 2024, you could almost call Villeneuve a trendsetter amongst F1 royalty… 

Powered by a screaming naturally aspirated V8 engine and carrying a bright lime-fronted livery, the Vanwall isn’t the fastest LMH entry, but it appeals to the senses no end.

In Le Mans Ultimate, the Vanwall lacks in overall performance in a similar vane to the Glickenhaus SCG 007. It too struggles in acceleration zones and is extremely lively at the rear end on throttle application and corner entry. 

Understeer at medium and high speed still hurts the final driving experience in the Vanwall compared to other Hypercar entries, but oversteer will be your primary concern behind the wheel. Elsewhere, long gearing aids its straight-line speed.

These are the key features of the Vanwall Vandervell 680:

  • Very difficult to control the rear-end
  • Struggles with some understeer in higher-speed corners
  • Long gearing improves straight-line speed with a default setup

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