Porsche to join Toyota, Audi & Peugeot in WEC. Will Ferrari, Mercedes and more follow?
Porsche has confirmed that it will return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with an LMDh prototype as part of a dual FIA World Endurance Championship and US IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar campaign from in 2023. The Porsche board has approved the development of a new LMP2-based LMDh hybrid machine.
A NEW GOLDEN LE MANS ERA
“Porsche will to run in both championships with a full commitment,” Porsche factory motorsport boss Pascal Zurlinden confirmed. “This is an open ended campaign, starting with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2023. Porsche last raced in the top Le Mans class with the 919 Hybrid LMP1 program in 2017.
Even without any further commitment, the marques already committed to return will spark what promises to be one of endurance racing’s finest eras. Porsche follows Audi and Peugeot back to Le Mans to compete with Toyota. Like Porsche, Audi is also developing an LMDh prototype for Le Mans for 2023 to four, while Toyota and Peugeot will compete with Le Mans Hypercars in he new dual top class WEC format.
Glickenhaus is among the more specialised carmakers to have confirmed a Le Mans hypercar campaign. Ferrari is understood to be considering a return for the furst time since 1965. And while it has not indicated a WC future for its new hypercar, Mercedes’ AMG One is currently in the process of being launched. A factory Mercedes last raced Le Mans in 1955. It is alo understood that McLaren is considering a WEC campaign, while Aston Martin’s plans are on ice.
PORSCHE IS COMMITTED TO THE LMDH CONCEPT
“Porsche is fully convinced of this LMDh concept,” Zurlinden pointed out. “The Daytona Prototype international class in IMSA proves that you can see outstanding racing at a high level but at reasonable cost. “It allows Porsche to continue to showcase the brand’s DNA, which is going endurance racing. We can contest both championships and the biggest endurance races in the world with one car.”
“Motor racing at the moment is definitely guided by maximum cost efficiency, so having some spec parts is an important factor to reduce costs”.
“LMDh entry reflects the brand’s strategy of selling electric, hybrid and pure combustion-engined cars for the road,” Porsche board member in charge of motorspor tMichael Steiner added. “We want to represent this trilogy in both the development of our cutting-edge road cars and in motorsport,” he explained.
“We use the all-electric drive to contest Formula E as part of our works commitment and the highly-efficient and emotional combustion unit in GT racing. Now, the LMDh class closes the gap for us.”
NO DECISION ON POWER UNIT OR CHASSIS. YET.
Porsche is yet to decide on its powertrain. It also still needs to choose which of the next generation of LMP2 chassis manufacturers – Oreca, Ligier, Dallara or Multimatic — will build its chassis. “We have many engines that could fit,” Zurlinden confirmed. “Using an power unit developed out of a road car unit is also probably more cost effective than building a bespoke unit.”
Porsche is also yet to confirm whether it will compete as a full-factory team, as a customer supplier, or both, although Zurlinden compared the project with the Porsche 956 and 962 of the 1980s and early ‘90s, which successfully dovered all aspects. “We think that an LMDh vehicle is very attractive for potential customers in terms of cost,” Zurlinden concludedd. “If you look back at the ’80s, 90s there is a long success story of also having customers in such classes.
“Even if there are works teams, if a customer Porsche wins, it is still a Porsche win.”