Porsche has announced that it will return to the top class of global endurance racing with an LMDh, set to debut in 2023.
The German manufacturer confirmed in a statement that “the Executive Board at Porsche AG has given the green light to the development of an LMDh prototype.’
It marks Porsche’s return to the top class of endurance racing for the first time since its 919 Hybrid program closed at the end of 2017.
“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,” explains Oliver Blume, CEO at Porsche AG.
Michael Steiner, Porsche board member for Research and Development, explains that the LMDh program allows Porsche to bridge the gap between its all-electric Formula E program and its more traditional GT racing efforts. As part of the LMDh regulations, each manufacturer will race with an off-the-shelf hybrid system.
“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines,” said Steiner. “We want to represent this trilogy in both the development of our cutting-edge road cars and in motorsport.
“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 becomes the second major manufacturer to confirm its commitment to the LMDh category after Audi announced its return earlier this month.
“I’d like to thank our board of directors for the immense confidence they have in the motorsport strategy we’ve developed,” says Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport. “We hold a record with our 19 outright wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and we’ve climbed to the top podium step many times at major races in the USA.
“We can continue this tradition with an LMDh vehicle while at the same time keeping costs reasonable. There has been huge interest from other manufacturers.
“I hope we can pick up where we left off with the famous clashes against many other marques in the 1980s and 90s. That would give the entire motor racing scene a huge boost.”
“This eagerly anticipated announcement is excellent news for Endurance racing,” said Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. “By confirming its commitment to Hypercar, the new top class of Endurance, Porsche will return to Le Mans to take on other major manufacturers in the 24 Hours. These recent announcements prove that our regulations, boosted by a historic agreement with the USA, are an attractive proposition.”
“When the idea of revamping FIA World Endurance Championship’s top class was first discussed, the aim was to attract renowned manufacturers to fight for overall victories in endurance racing around the world and at Le Mans,” added Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission.
“We can now see it happening and having both Le Mans Hypercar as well as LMDh rulesets gives manufacturers the luxury of choosing a concept that best fits their philosophy. The future for endurance racing indeed looks very promising.”