Porsche has been flirting with a return to the Le Mans series for quite some time now, and now we are finally getting the chance to see the automaker’s LMP1 sports prototype for the 2014 series. The new LMP1 racecar completed its first rollout on the Porsche test track in Weissach with Porsche works driver, Timo Bernhard, behind the wheel.
According to Porsche, this test was completed several weeks earlier than it had originally planned, which means the development of the LMP1 racer is evolving quite well. This test will be followed by a few more in the upcoming weeks.
With the LMP1 racer, Porsche will focus on "achieving the best possible efficiency without compromising performance." In fact, these are the main regulations starting 2014 racing season.
"I was involved in the development of the new car right from the outset," says Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard. "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."
Updated 10/28/2013: Porsche unveiled the first roll-out video for its upcoming LMP1 racecar that will be used to the LMP1-class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24h of Le Mans 2014. Enjoy!
Updated 12/16/2013: Porsche revealed the official name for its 2014 LMP1 prototype: it will be called "919 Hybrid" and will be making its official race debut at the 2014 Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC). The model was called "919" because it pays tribute to the Le Mans-winning 917, but also to the new 918 Spyder. Brendon Hartley (24) and driver Marc Lieb (33) will be the official drivers for Porsche, while Timo Bernhard (DE, 32), Romain Dumas (FR, 36), Neel Jani (CH, 30) and Mark Webber (37) also announced interest in the new 919 Hybrid.
Updated 01/30/2014: After 16 years of absence, Porsche prepares its return to Le Mans. And with every second of a race being important, the company decided to spend some time practicing pit stops with the 919 Hybrid. Check it out in the new video released by Porsche (above).
Click past the jump to read more about Porsche’s history at Le Mans.
Porsche at Le Mans
Porsche made its first appearance in the Le Mans race in 1951 and since then it was the maker with most of the wins. There were more than 600 Porsche vehicles entered in the race and the company has tallied 16 overall wins (1970, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998) and 94 class wins with prototypes and GT vehicles.
The first win was obtained in 1951 with a 356 SL Coupe and the latest one in 2007 with a 911 GT3 RSR entered by French private team IMSA Matmut.
Porsche in Le Mans 1971: The race of records
The new Porsche LMP1 sports prototype, which will compete in the sports car World Endurance Championship (WEC) and in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 2014, successfully completed its first rollout today on the Porsche test track in Weissach. Before the eyes of the entire Board of Porsche AG, Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard took his new ‘wheels’ through its initial function check.
The LMP1 racer turned its first laps on the circuit several weeks earlier than originally planned. “We are well on schedule,” says Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1. “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.”
Since the decision in mid-2011 to return with the LMP1 racer to top motorsport as a works effort, the Motorsport Centre at Weissach has grown significantly. A workshop and an administration building were built and accommodate around 200 employees who are responsible for the design, assembly and deployment of the LMP1 car. From the 2014 season, the racer will be fielded by a Weissach-based works squad.
“I was involved in the development of the new car right from the outset,” says Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard. “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.” Bernhard (32) and Dumas (35) are the first two regular drivers in the LMP1 project and will carry out the majority of testing on various international circuits.
“During the development of our new LMP1 vehicle, we faced the same challenge as in the series production development of our road legal cars,” says Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “Our aim was to achieve the best possible efficiency without compromising performance.”
Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board at Porsche AG, particularly emphasises the benefits customers will enjoy from the development of the high-tech race car. “The engineers were able to start with a blank sheet of paper in the design of the new LMP1 car that was out here today on the Weissach race track for the first time. Hence, they were able to apply many new technologies within the framework of the regulations that will also benefit the customers of our road legal automobiles in the future. After all, there’s a race car in every Porsche.”