After the news broke last week that Porsche would be leaving LMP1 at the end of this years’ World Endurance Championship, the series coordinators have released a statement in response. It is clear that the WEC is not happy with Porsche’s sudden decision to leave WEC for Formula E. Before Porsche withdrew at the end of last week, both LMP1 teams – Porsche and Toyota Gazoo Racing – had confirmed commitment to participating in LMP1 until the end of 2018.
The WEC statement began: “[Porsche] recently confirmed its participation in the FIA LMP1-H World Endurance Championship as a manufacturer up to the end of the 2018 season, and which has been actively involved in the development of the technical regulations that will come into force in 2020.”
Porsche have recently been publically praising the direction of the technical regulations and new rules for the LMP1 series that are due to come into the sport in the next three years, along with track rivals Toyota. With this public support and the promise to remain in LMP1 for, at least, one more year, the abrupt departure of Porsche has come as a shock to the WEC and their statement reflects they are clearly not happy about the decision.
However, as there was rumours at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring that Porsche would not see past the end of the year in LMP1, the WEC and ACO have not been caught napping at the announcement of this news. There is already work underway to make sure the 2018 season is “a season which promises to be quite exceptional thanks to the introduction of new innovations.” WEC’s main concern will be to keep Toyota on board net year, but with no one to race against there needs to be a very good reason for Toyota to stay.
If Toyota were to follow Audi Sport who left last year, and Porsche in departing from the LMP1 class, there would no longer be an hybrid field in the WEC. This could be detrimental to the series as, with automotive vehicles becoming greener, the hybrid technology was the closest to road car technology for the future in the field.
The WEC ended their statement by putting stress on the fact that cost and stability reduction, and inventiveness and audacity held the key to getting more manufacturers into the sport. This backs up Toyota’s claims that if the technical factor of the cars was reduced to save cost they would walk away from the LMP1 class.
Right now, WEC’s priority has to be keeping Toyota in WEC, but the question that remains is how are they going to do that when there are no longer any competitors for Toyota to try and beat:?