It’s been three years since Porsche has been out of top-flight endurance racing, but it’s coming back in a big way. Zuffenhausen has announced that its executive board has green-lighted the development of a new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) prototype, enabling a return to the premier class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the participation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the first time.
A convergence of the Daytona Prototype International (DPI) and Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) categories, the new regulations will allow Porsche to contest overall victories not just at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but also at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The LMDh category will coexist with the also-new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) rules as a more cost-effective alternative, using upgraded LMP2 chassis and a standardised hybrid system and control electronics. Teams are allowed to design their own bodies and engines according to the specifications, which call for cars weighing around 1,000 kg and a power output of 500 kW (680 PS).
Porsche said it remains committed to Formula E – the series for which it left WEC at the end of 2017 – unlike Audi, which has deserted the electric single-seater championship to build its own LMDh prototype. The car will make its competitive debut when the category comes into force in 2023.
“The new LMDh category allows us to fight for overall victories with a hybrid system at the Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring classics – without breaking the bank. The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA,” said CEO Oliver Blume.
Board member for research and development Michael Steiner added, “We use the all-electric drive to contest the FIA 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.
“There, powerful hybrid drives – like the ones that are mounted in many of our brand’s models – go up against each other. If the regulations eventually allowed the use of synthetic fuels, then that would be an even greater incentive for me in terms of sustainability.”
Porsche has won Le Mans a record 19 times, including three consecutive victories from 2015 to 2017. We were there at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the team’s final French epic – you can read all about it here.
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