Porsche has confirmed that it will return to prototype racing in 2023 with a program in LMDh.
The German manufacturer has been evaluating the global top-level platform for several months and launched a formal study into a potential program in May this year.
Approval to develop a car has now been granted by the company’s executive board, paving the way for Porsche to compete for overall honors in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
It also enables Porsche to enter the same car into major sports car races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The hybrid-based LMDh formula requires manufacturers to adopt one of four designated LMP2 base chassis, as part of its cost-cutting objective.
While engine choice is free, all cars must carry the same 50 kW electric motor and produce no more than 500 kW of power (around 670 hp) in total.
“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 of Porsche AG.
“The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA.”
Michael Steiner, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG, explained that a hybrid-powered LMDh program accounts for the only pillar of the company’s road car portfolio that is not currently represented in Porsche’s racing activities.
“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines,” he said.
“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 last entered prototype racing with the successful 919 Hybrid LMP1 car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times consecutively between 2015-17 and also delivered three World Endurance drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles.
The LMP1 program ended after the 2017 WEC season as Porsche shifted its factory motorsport focus to developing a fully electric racing powertrain for Formula E.
Its most recent involvement in North American prototype racing came in 2010 with the Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 that achieved outright wins in the American Le Mans Series.
“I’d like to thank our board of directors for the immense confidence they have in the motorsport strategy we’ve developed,” said Porsche Motorsport vice president Fritz Enzinger.
“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 eighties and nineties. That would give the entire motor racing scene a huge boost.”
Porsche becomes the third manufacturer to declare plans to enter LMDh, following sister brand Audi as well as Acura, which has laid out a long-term roadmap for its involvement in the WeatherTech Championship.