The countdown to the 2014 sports car racing season has begun at Porsche as, following its successful launch on the company's test track in Weissach in June, the company's LMP1 sports prototype- which has been completely redesigned - is now working its way through a series of functional tests.

In the most recent test drives, Neel Jani took the wheel for the very first time. The former grand prix test driver has been part of the pool of regular LMP1 drivers since 1 July this year, and supports Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas with the testing duties ahead of Mark Webber's arrival next year.

"The current test drives are enabling us to collect huge amounts of vital data; every single kilometre driven is important," said Fritz Enzinger, vice president of the LMP1 programme, "However, in order to develop the highly complex LMP1 racing car so that it is fit to compete by the start of next year's season, many more kilometres of testing are required. We are pleased with the progress being made with each test."

A new set of rules apply to the WEC for 2014 which are clearly focused on efficiency, and require the use of the latest hybrid drive technology. The aim of the new rules is to significantly reduce fuel consumption of the participating race cars. The new Porsche LMP1 therefore needs to balance optimum efficiency while delivering maximum performance.

Porsche has been pursuing this transfer of technology from the field of motorsport to the road since the launch of the 550 Spyder in 1953. From dual ignition, disc brakes, optimised suspension, aerodynamic spoilers, turbocharged engines, double-clutch transmissions to powerful hybrid drives -- all of these forms of pioneering road car technology were initially tested by Porsche in racing cars.

"After 16 years, we once again want to be a works team in the top category with the LMP1 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014," said Wolfgang Hatz, member of the Porsche AG Executive Board responsible for Research and Development, "It is also our aim to contest the entire WEC season - the Porsche legacy of success in long-distance races really spurs us on, but also increases the level of expectation placed on us. However, we are happy to rise to this challenge."