Porsche’s LMDh entry signals a reignited Le Mans rivalry with Audi
Automakers around the globe have tightened their proverbial belts in response to COVID-19-related slumps. Within the Volkswagen Group, manufacturers have reshuffled their investments in motorsports, like Audi, or withdrawn entirely, like Volkswagen. Porsche Motorsport, however, has successfully pitched a Le Mans hypercar entry to the Stuttgart executive board and has received the green flag to begin development.
The financial case for a Porsche LMDh entry was made more palatable by the structure of this FIA category: LMDh cars will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the North America-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a series headlined by the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Of course, there’s also Porsche’s endurance racing heritage to uphold: The manufacturer boasts 19 overall wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans alone.
“Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA,” says Porsche CEO Oliver Blume.
Porsche’s LMDh entry, like all others in the class, will ride on a revised LMP2 chassis and be powered by a hybrid drivetrain with a power output capped at 680 hp. Peugeot’s glimpse into its 508 racer, however, reveals that the on-track behavior of this powertrain will be immensely complicated, since Balance of Power rules dictate that the 272-hp electric motor can only kick in above 75 mph. Because the front wheels are driven via the electric motor and the rears by the combustion engine, drivers must wrangle a system that switches between rear- and all-wheel-drive in a single lap.
We’re thrilled to see Porsche investing in its motorsports division, and we eagerly await 2023, when Porsche will face off against Audi, another Le Mans titan. Joining the fight will be privateer team ByKolles in addition to Glickenhaus, the aforementioned Peugeot, and Toyota Gazoo Racing. Even more exciting—homologation specials for each of these entries must be available for sale within two years of their race-going versions’ competition debuts. Get pumped.