Porsche have announced their intention to return to top-level sports prototype racing in 2014, with a car to compete in the LMP1 class at the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
Porsche: Most successful manufacturer at Le Mans
The Zuffenhausen-based carmaker has plenty of heritage to draw upon as it enters its LMP1 car development programme. Porsche have won the Le Mans 24hr race 16 times since 1970 with racing models including the 917, 956, 962 and 911GT1. But in recent years Porsche motorsports activity has focused on the GT classes with racing 911s, and a factory-supported customer motorsports programme in the lower LMP2 class with the Porsche RS Spyder racing car. Now that Porsche is joining the VW Group, there has been renewed impetus for Porsche to re-enter top-level motorsports.
Porsche boss Mattias Muller has clear expecations for success: 'Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand. So for us it was only a matter of time before we returned as a factory to the top league of racing. Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.'
So we're going to see a diesel Porsche to challenge Audi and Peugeot?
Not necessarily. Porsche have been developing expertise with flywheel hybrid drivetrains with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid racer, and have already shown a prototype 918 RSR version of their upcoming 918 Spyder hybrid V8 supercar. Porsche Motorsport boss Hartmut Kristen hints that a hybrid LMP1 car may be possible, depending on how LMP1 regulations evolve: 'In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.” But Porsche admits it is at the earliest stages of setting its LMP car concept so no powertrain option is off the table.
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