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LMP1 racing in recent years has mostly been an Audi versus Peugeot affair, which is fine, but things are about to get far more interesting in a few short years. Porsche has confirmed it will return to Le Mans’ top class in 2014, which only leads us to ask, “Ferrari, where are you?”
Porsche, of course, isn’t new to the top class of Le Mans racing, having taken the title a record 16 times, with the last in 1998. But now that Audi has just claimed number ten, we have to believe the company is growing concerned about protecting its record. After all, by the time the new Porsche racer takes the track, Audi could possibly be up to 12 wins and looking for a 13th. At the same time, we can’t help but wonder if the Porsche and Audi programs will be connected, considering both brands are now under the VW Group umbrella. Will the Porsche be a gas-powered Audi LMP1 car? Platform sharing at the highest level? Considering the amount of development time between this announcement today and Porsche’s first race in 2014, we honestly doubt that will happen. The bigger question is to whom Allan McNish, who has won with both Audi and Porsche, will be loyal.
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport, is already prepared for one of the most challenging development programs in the company’s history. “We’re looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder. After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype program in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances. Now we will begin with detailed research in order to evaluate the various concept alternatives for our new car. These obviously depend on how the regulations for the year 2014 look in detail. In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.”
A hybrid gas-electric Porsche LMP1 car winning the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans? It seems crazy, but we’re excited to see what happens.