Audi and Peugeot look to set to face a new rival in the Le Mans 24 Hours after Porsche announced that it is to make a return to the premier class of the La Sarthe classic in 2014.
The German manufacturer, which has more wins in the famous round-the-clock race than any of its rivals, is to develop a new LMP1 machine that will see it chase its 17th outright victory and first since 1998 – when Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli beat the sister 911 GT1 of Jorg Muller, Uwe Alzen and the late Bob Wollek in a 1-2 finish.
“Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand,” Matthias Müller, president of the executive board at Porsche AG. “So for us it was only a matter of time before we returned as a factory to the top league of racing.
“Porsche's successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.”
In recent years, Porsche's success at Le Mans has come in the GT2 and LMP2 classes with the 911 and RS Spyder models – the latter of which took back-to-back class victories in 2008 and 2009 with van Merksteijn Motorsport and Team Essex.
“We're looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder,” head of Porsche Motorsport Hartmut Kristen said. “After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype programme in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances. Now we will begin with detailed research in order to evaluate the various concept alternatives for our new car.
“These obviously depend on how the regulations for the year 2014 look in detail. In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.”
Porsche has made no comment on whether or not its new LMP1 car will be an open-top machine or a coupe – as is the case with the factory efforts from both Audi and Peugeot – but green technology is set to feature greatly thanks to Porsche's recent on-track development of a hybrid version of the 911 GT3, which has won in the German VLN Series this season and competed in the Nurburgring 24 Hours last weekend.