Porsche has confirmed that it will return to top-flight prototype racing in 2023 with a programme in LMDh.
The German powerhouse, who have claimed an unprecedented 19 Le Mans 24 Hour victories, has been absent from prototype racing following the end of the 919 Hybrid LMP1 programme in 2017.
However, today Porsche confirmed they have received approval to develop an LMP2-based car for the LMDh category. The concept will enable them to enter significant endurance races around the world, like Le Mans and the Daytona 24 Hour.
The LMDh platform is designed around a cost-cutting initiative, hence why the formula is circled around designated LMP2 chassis designs.
The category will then be able to run against the Le Mans Hypercar category, which has already enticed the interest of manufacturers such as Toyota and Peugeot, and privateer teams like Glickenhaus.
The news of Porsche’s return follows on from the announcement by sister marque Audi who is also developing an LMDh prototype.
“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.”
Pascal Zurlinden, head of factory motorsport at Porsche, explained that the LMDh concept has long been in the interest of Porsche, and its commitment to the class is “open ended”.
“The best way to look at it is to look at the Daytona Prototype international class in IMSA [from which LMDh takes it principles] — you can see outstanding racing at a high level but at reasonable cost,” he said.
“The LMDh concept allows Porsche to continue to showcase the brand’s DNA, which is going endurance racing.
“We can contest both championships and the biggest endurance races in the world with one car.”
Michael Steiner, the Porsche board member in charge of motorsport, said that the LMDh entry reflects the brand’s push to develop sustainable road-going technology.
“We want to represent this trilogy in both the development of our cutting-edge road cars and in motorsport,” he explained.
“We use the all-electric drive to contest 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.”
Porsche are yet to reveal technical details, including which of the four licenced chassis of LMP2 car they will take on, and its choice of engine.
Engine choice in LMDh is free, but all cars must carry the same 50 kW electric motor and produce no more than 500 kW of power (around 670 hp) in total.
Zurlinden concluded by hinting that Porsche’s LMDh prototype will likely be available for purchase by customer teams.
“We think that an LMDh vehicle is very attractive for potential customers in terms of cost,” Zurlinden said.
“If you look back at the ’80s, 90s there is a long success story of also having customers in such classes.
“Even if there are works teams, if a customer Porsche wins, it is still a Porsche win.”