Porsche will return to Le Mans with new LMP1 car

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Porsche-RS-SpyderPorsche announced Thursday that it will enter the LMP1 ranks with a factory-run prototype in 2014. The news, confirmed via a news release and video on its official YouTube channel, comes after much speculation that the German manufacturer would step up with an official works program in the near future.

While no further details have been released beyond confirmation of an all-new prototype, destined for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it comes as welcome news to the sportscar racing world, which has seen primarily a two-horse factory race between Peugeot and Audi in recent years.

It’s unclear what implications, if any, today’s announcement could have on Audi, Porsche’s sister brand, which recently notched up its 10th overall victory at Le Mans. An official statement from Audi is expected to be forthcoming.

“Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand,” said Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG. “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 unrivaled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.”

With 16 overall victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at Le Mans. The most recent came in 1998 when Allan McNish, Laurent Aiello and Stephane Ortelli drove a factory Porsche 911 GT1-98 to top honors.

However, Porsche’s most recent venture into prototype racing came with the RS Spyder, which Penske Racing ran as a factory program from 2005-2008 in the American Le Mans Series. The LMP2 contender was also made available to customer teams, racking up two class victories at Le Mans and a total of 13 overall victories, 35 class victories and 12 championships during its five-year run in the ALMS and in Europe.

“We’re looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder,” said Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. “After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype program in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances.

“Now we will begin with detailed research in order to evaluate the various concept alternatives for our new car. These obviously depend on how the regulations for the year 2014 look in detail. In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.”

Porsche’s entry into LMP1 in 2014 will coincide with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s new set of prototype regulations, which is expected have a bigger emphasis on energy consumption.

Watch Porsche video: Porsche will return to Le Mans


[source: auto-racing.speedtv.com]

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