The car that Porsche will use for its return to the top level of sportscar competition has broken cover during a rollout at the German manufacturer's Weissach test track.

Timo Bernhard was given the honour of carrying out the first run in the Porsche LMP1 Hybrid machine, with the initial outing on track taking place 'several weeks ahead of schedule'.

The car is set to compete for the first time next year as Porsche seeks to fight for a first outright win at Le Mans since 1998, when Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli took top honours in the Porsche 911 GT1-98.

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"We are well on schedule," Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1 at Porsche, said. "Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible. This allows us a few additional weeks for more testing and further development.

"From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency. This makes the competition amongst engineers more interesting and presents us with completely new challenges."

Bernhard, who won at the Circuit de la Sarthe with Audi back in 2010, said he was delighted to be the first driver to sample the car.

"I was involved in the development of the new car right from the outset," he said. "I'm very proud that I was the one to take our baby through its first paces today. Already now the car feels great. I look forward to testing the vehicle in the coming weeks and months with my friend and colleague Romain Dumas."

Porsche will join Audi and Toyota in running a factory LMP1 programme when new regulations come into force next year.