Kurt Verlin
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Porsche Confirms Return to Le Mans

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Porsche LMHd Prototype teaser - front
Photo: Porsche North America

Porsche, the winningest manufacturer in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is coming back to add to its impressive list of trophies. The company’s executive board gave Porsche the green light to develop an LMDh prototype that will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the North American IMSA SportsCar Championship, starting in 2023.

Porsche will thus join an ever-growing roster of manufacturers intending to participate at the highest level of endurance racing, including Audi, Toyota, Alpine, and Glickenhaus. Thanks to new hybrid powertrain regulations that enable prototypes to compete across several racing championships — in the WEC’s LMH class and the SCC’s LMHd class — Porsche feels it is financially viable to return to prototype racing after it bowed out of the WEC in 2017.

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Porsche LMHd Prototype teaser - back
Photo: Porsche North America

“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, Porsche CEO, “The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA.”

Indeed, with 19 wins at Le Mans, 18 wins at Daytona, and 18 wins at Sebring — the three most challenging and prestigious endurance races in the world — Porsche is by far the most successful manufacturer in endurance racing. And for the first time in over 20 years, it will be possible for Porsche and its rivals to bring a car to Daytona in January, then compete with an identical car at Le Mans in June without having to invest in a completely different prototype program.

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Porsche LMHd Prototype teaser - side
Photo: Porsche North America

The cars will weigh around 1,000 kilograms and use a hybrid powertrain producing around 680 horsepower. The hybrid system and control electronics will be standardized across all cars, though competitors will be able to select the combustion engine concept and body design within specified regulations.

Porsche’s prototype will begin competing in 2023, but the new regulations kick in next year — so if you’re a fan of endurance racing who got tired of watching Toyota compete with no one but itself in LMP1, don’t wait until Porsche comes back to start watching again. Global pandemic willing, the 2021 motorsport season promises to be a good one.