Porsche rejoins fight for Le Mans victory with 2023 LMDh prototype

Sports Car News

Porsche has announced that it will return to top-level sports car racing with an LMDh prototype that will race in WEC and IMSA championships from 2023

Porsche LMDh front


Porsche is returning to top-level sports car racing in 2023 with a prototype that will fight for overall victory at Le Mans and Daytona.

Three years after shutting down its 919 project, Le Mans’ most successful constructor confirmed rumours of its new programme. It is developing a car built to the new LMDh standards and will enter both the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and IMSA Sportscar Championship.

The announcement adds to a burgeoning list of manufacturers committing to the next generation of sports cars, including sister company Audi, as well as Peugeot and Toyota which are developing Hypercars that will compete for overall WEC honours with the LMDh machines.

Porsche’s 919 raced between 2014 and 2017, and the WEC-only programme is estimated to have cost the manufacturer $200m a year (£146m at today’s prices).

In contrast, the cost of an LMDh car, which has a standard hybrid system, and chassis from four selected manufacturers is around €1m (£900,000) and can be entered in both major series.

“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, Porsche CEO. “The project is extremely attractive for Porsche. Endurance racing is part of our brand’s DNA.”

Porsche LMDh rear

Despite increasing focus on sales of electric cars, Porsche expects to continue to sell large volumes of hybrids for several years, enabling it to justify the new investment. At the same time, it confirmed that it will continue to race in Formula E.

“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines,” said Michael Steiner, Porsche Board Member for Research and Development.

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“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.”

Porsche has released teaser images of the new car. The regulations prevent changes to the floor but manufacturers have more freedom with the bodywork, which can be made to resemble road-going models.

It has not provided details of the petrol engine that will power the car.

Porsche LMDh

By 2023, Toyota and Peugeot plan to be racing their Le Mans Hypercars in WEC (IMSA does not currently recognise the category), which have bespoke chassis and hybrid systems but the same 671bhp power limit as LMDh cars.

Glickenhaus and ByKolles are also working on Hypercars for next year, the first season in which they will be able to race.

Porsche’s fellow Volkswagen Group brand Audi has said that it will be making its own LMDh car, and a number of other manufacturers have been linked to the format too, including Honda.