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Porsche returning to Le Mans with LMDh prototype

Ford vs. Ferrari? Try Porsche vs. Audi, as both Volkswagen Group brands return to Le Mans with LMDh hybrid prototype racers.

1 month ago
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William Stopford
Journalist

Porsche is returning to Le Mans.

Like fellow Volkswagen Group family member Audi, Porsche is developing a car for the LMDh hybrid category.

From 2023, LMDh cars will participate in a new top class in the FIA World Endurance Championship and North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“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 Porsche CEO Oliver Blume.

Per class regulations, hybrid prototypes have a minimum weight of 1030kg and use a 50kW Bosch hybrid system. Total system output is capped at 500kW.

They’re based on an upgraded LMP2 chassis, of which four are available from a total of four different manufacturers – Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and ORECA.

Though the hybrid system is standardised, participating automakers can select the engine it’s mated to and wrap the whole thing in a design of their choice, provided it meets the regulations.

Porsche has yet to announce the specifications of its racer’s engine.

The company has an enviable reputation for Le Mans success, holding the record for most wins (19) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

They weren’t just glories of the distant past, either, with the 919 Hybrid winning three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017.

Porsche withdrew from the LMP1 program in 2017 to focus its efforts on Formula E, which it joined in the 2019-20 season.

While Audi announced this year it is withdrawing from Formula E, Porsche has committed to the competition.

“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines. We want to represent this trilogy in both the development of our cutting-edge road cars and in motorsport,” said Michael Steiner, board member for research and development.

“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.”

The Le Mans Hypercar class has attracted the likes of Aston Martin, Peugeot and Toyota, while Audi, Porsche and Honda’s luxury brand Acura are thus far the only automakers to announce their plans to participate in the LMDh class.


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