Porsche has announced their intention to return to the FIA World Endurance Championship and take on the challenge of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a new LMDh entry, aiming to hit the track in 2023.
The announcement to return back to the front of the endurance field, somewhere they haven’t been since 2017, comes after the manufacturer’s announcement to withdraw from the IMSA GTE class as of 2021. The new WEC/IMSA regulations, coming in for the 2022 season, enables teams to race the same car in both championships, making the investment a much more worthwhile venture. Porsche were one of the brands that were supportive of the integrated regulations when they were first discussed.
“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. The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA.” Oliver Blume, CEO at Porsche AG, explained.
Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG, Michael Steiner, added: “In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines. 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.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of Motorsport at Porsche who helped the manufacturer take three consecutive Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships between 2015 and 2017, as well as the three consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans wins during the same period, said: “I’d like to thank our board of directors for the immense confidence they have in the motorsport strategy we’ve developed. 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 1980s and 90s. That would give the entire motor racing scene a huge boost.”
The return of Porsche to WEC followed the announcement that Audi Sport would also be making their return to endurance racing, also developing an LMDh, meaning they too will be racing in IMSA and WEC (as of 2022). With these marques returning, along with other manufacturers and brands showing interest in the LMh/LMDh cars, the competition that has arguably been lacking at the front of the WEC field may be about to return.