Porsche has announced that it will be returning to Le Mans in 2014 with a works-run LMP1 sports prototype. The first outing of the completely new developed race car is planned for the year 2014. With 16 overall victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in Le Mans, although sister company Audi is catching up fast, having claimed their 10th victory in last month’s race.
You may wonder what qualifies this announcement as being ‘news’ – there remains a strong contingent of 911 RSRs at Circuit de Sarthe each year and Porsche won the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2008 and 2009 with the RS Spyder.
But a factory Porsche team has not competed at Le Mans in the top prototype class since 1998 when Allan McNish, Stephane Ortelli and Laurent Aiello drove the 911 GT1 to Porsche’s 16th and most recent win – now it’s going for overall victory again.. Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood claimed the first outright victory for Porsche in 1970 with the legendary 917 short-tail, a car which reached legendary status after starring in Steve McQueen’s film, Le Mans.
President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG Matthias Müller said, “Motorsport has always been 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 premier league of endurance racing.”
Research and Development Board member Wolfgang Hatz said, “With the RS Spyder we proved that our motorsport engineers at Weissach are among the industry’s leaders. We were the first to run a high-revving race engine with direct fuel injection and now, with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, we’ve adapted a new drive technology for endurance racing and achieved a considerable reduction in consumption – which means longer between pit stops.”
Porsche Motorsport boss Hartmut Kristen says it will be one of the most challenging development programmes in the company’s history.
“We’re looking forward to developing new technologies and building on the success of the RS Spyder. After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype programme in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances. We’ll start by researching the various concept alternatives for the new car; depending on the exact details of the 2014 regulations, one possible option would be to integrate our hybrid technology.”