Porsche prototypes are returning to American road and street courses in 2023.
The manufacturer announced on Tuesday a plan to develop a Le Mans Daytona hybrid prototype to race in the top classes of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the World Endurance Championship beginning in 2023.
Porsche is the first manufacturer to commit to LMDh class, which will feature cost-contained cars patterned after the next generation of LMP2 prototypes. Four chassis manufacturers have already been approved, including Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and ORECA. The car manufacturers will be allowed to develop their own engines and stylized bodywork.
“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,” said Oliver Blume, CEO at Porsche AG. “The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA.”
In 2023, cars adhering to LMDh specifications will be able to race the same car in both IMSA and the WEC, which means that IMSA LMDh cars will be able to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The cars will be powered by hybrid powertrains producing about 680 hp. The cars are expected to weigh approximately 2,200 pounds.
The LMDh platform was introduced at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona race in January. Originally scheduled to roll out in the fall of 2021 for the WEC and in 2022 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in IMSA, Tuesday’s press release from Porsche would seem to indicate that the plan has been pushed back to 2023 due to production and development delays caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Porsche Motorsports, 2023 will mark the first time in more than 20 years that Porsche will be racing for overall victories with identical vehicles at endurance races around the world.
High-performance hybrid powertrains have a storied history at Porsche Motorsport. In 2010 and 2011, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid starred at races held on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
Between 2014 and 2017, Porsche raced high-performance hybrid powertrains in the WEC. Its 919 Hybrid won the LMP1 class three times in a row at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2015-17). Porsche also won the WEC manufacturers’ and drivers’ championship titles those three years with hybrid power,
“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines,” said Michael Steiner, board member for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “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.”
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