There's now been six months' worth of hype - excuse the pun - surrounding the World Endurance Championship's future hypercar concept prototype class. Any number of people, all-important manufacturers included, have stepped forward to talk up the innovative formula that will come into force for the 2020/21 WEC season.
But talk is cheap. What the hypercar concept needs right now is for major car makers to put their hands up and say, 'We're coming, see you in September 2020'.
The category requires such commitments - and in the plural - pretty damn quick. The hypercar concept needs them to maintain the momentum the category has gathered since it was announced during the week of the Le Mans 24 Hours back in June.
More to the point, time is short. The final regulations were only published early in December, yet we are little more than 20 months away from the likely start of the 2020/21 WEC. And any hypercar prototypes on the grid in September 2020 will need to have been homologated by the end of May that year.
The WEC and its promoter, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest at Le Mans, know it's going to be a tall order to have multiple manufacturers ready to go from the start of the hypercar concept's first season. But it appears they are more confident of having a decent roster of car makers participating come the season finale at Le Mans in June 2021.
Or at least they have lofty aspirations for the LMP1 replacement class. It seems they won't be happy if they have just a couple of manufacturers come Le Mans 2021 and they are working hard to ensure there are more than that.
That probably explains why McLaren has admitted that it could be up and running with a hypercar prototype sometime in the first half of 2021. Its understood that the WEC and the ACO are trying to persuade those manufacturers looking hard at the category to commit to being at Le Mans come the end of season one.
McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown's revelation that a season-one entry is possible is probably evidence, however circumstantial, of that. The British supercar manufacturer had previously stated that timeframe wouldn't be possible should it sign up for the hypercar concept. Now it is saying that an early entry is part of its discussions.
"It is definitely something we are evaluating," says Brown. "Although I wouldn't call it a plan."
There can, of course, be no plan at McLaren Automotive, not yet at least. That's some months away, as the sister company of the McLaren Formula 1 team works through the hypercar rules and the viability of an entry into the category.
"We are pleased with the way they [the rules] have ended up, so the ball is now in our court - we're hard on it," explains Brown. "There are lots of things to consider: we have to put it together technically and fiscally, and we have to consider F1 - which will remain our priority."
Brown is suggesting that a yes or no will come in the first half of 2019. That means McLaren isn't going to be a manufacturer the WEC has been promising as an early signee to the new rules.
Toyota as an incumbent marque competing in the WEC and one of the leading proponents of the hypercar concept would appear be the favourite for an early decision. It traditionally makes the annual announcement of its motorsport plans in late January or early February. But it isn't certain that it will make a firm pledge to the hypercar concept in the coming weeks.
Toyota Motorsport technical director Pascal Vasselon has pointed out that company policy is to "announce its participation year by year". That suggests confirmation of the continuation of the LMP1 programme through the 2019/20 season is imminent, but not a commitment to the new rules. It would seem implausible, however, that Toyota's annual motorsport announcement can pass without mention of the hypercar concept.
If Toyota doesn't make an early commitment, it is difficult to see who else will.
Aston Martin was one of the six manufacturers around the table as hypercar concept rules were formulated. It has made all the right noises about a class that might also tick a lot of boxes for the ambitious marque. It wasn't so long ago, remember, that it had its eyes on outright glory at Le Mans, though the innovative AMR-One of 2011 failed to build on the promise of the Lola-based machinery that preceded it.
"Do you see a BMW hypercar right now? We are happy with our M8 campaign and our programme" Jens Marquardt on why BMW won't adopt hypercar rules from the outset
But for the moment, Aston is playing its cards close to its chest.
"Our position on the 2020 LMP1 regulations remains the same, that we are very interested in principle," says Aston Martin Racing president David King. "We are pleased with the direction in which the regulations have gone and we are evaluating our options for the future now that they have been confirmed."
Ferrari, like Aston, appears to have genuine interest in the hypercar concept. And its line at present is very similar to that of the British manufacturer.
"Antonello Coletta [Ferrari's GT racing director] and the other guys from Competizioni GT are looking deeply into the rules to understand if there's room for a project," says a Ferrari spokesman. "What is key for Ferrari is to have a link between production and racing, and that's why the new rules are interesting."
If Toyota and McLaren are probables, and Aston and Ferrari possibles, then Ford and BMW - the other manufacturers known to be around the table in the rule-making working group - are highly unlikely to join the party any time soon.
The German manufacturer is not going to be an early-adopter of the new rules. BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt points out that there isn't a car within the marque's model range on which to style a hypercar.
"Do you see a BMW hypercar right now?" he asks. "We have the 8-series and the M8 being launched next year, a car that is a rival for the Porsche 911 and the Chevrolet Corvette, those kind of cars. At the moment we are happy with our M8 campaign and our programme."
Marquardt suggests that BMW's seat at the working group table was just about "monitoring what is going on for the future". BMW won't be "prime mover" in the hypercar class, he insists.
Ford's interest was more concrete. And that's the correct use of the past tense. Its desired scenario was one where it would have been able to race a hypercar prototype on the global stage in the WEC and in North America in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. It wanted to follow the model it has pursued with the Ford GT, which is competing in both GTE Pro in the WEC and GT Le Mans in IMSA.
The manufacturers currently engaged in IMSA's Daytona Prototype international class appear to have little appetite for the hypercar concept rules. That's because it will still be expensive by DPi standards, despite the efforts of the rulemakers to cut cost out of competing at the sharp end of the WEC.
The top class has been in a state of limbo since the start of the 2018/19 superseason. What the series desperately needs is manufacturers to tell us the WEC has a bright future
IMSA says it is not against what has become dubbed the "common platform", but it insists it will be led by its stakeholders. Those participants are very much against the idea of the hypercar concept rules replacing DPi when its current lifecycle ends with the 2021 season.
"A global set of rules was a big part of what we were aiming and hoping for," explains Mark Rushbrook, global head of Ford Performance Motorsports. "Our programme with the Ford GT works well because we can share the investment and race it in two arenas."
Rushbrook insists that no decisions have been made about Ford's future motorsport plans beyond the present commitment to GTE/GTLM, but it can be taken as read that it won't be joining the hypercar class.
There are other projects out there. Niche manufacturer Glickenhaus (pictured) has made statements of intent about racing in the hypercar category. Long-time WEC participant ByKolles has declared a resolve to continue in the top division of the series with its own car. And ORECA has said it will be involved, either as a constructor of privateer machinery as it now or in partnership with a manufacturer.
That's all very well and good, but what the hypercar concept needs is a major manufacturer to sign on the dotted line soon and start shouting about it. And that doesn't mean Toyota underlining its interest in the category in a month's time. At the very least it needs to say it is beginning development on a car built to the new rules.
But there is another manufacturer out there with a real interest, according to sources inside and outside the WEC. It's a European marque and a major one at that apparently. But whether this mystery marque will prepared to stand up and be counted remains unclear.
The top class of the WEC has been in a state of limbo since the start of the 2018/19 superseason. There's another interim season run to the existing rulebook after that, so the series desperately needs manufacturers to tell us that the WEC does have a bright future after all.
And the way they can do that is by committing to building and racing hypercar concept prototypes.