Porsche Pledges to Race in LMP1 Until 2018
No manufacturer has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans more times than Porsche. But Porsche’s dominance of top-tier endurance racing through the ’70s and ’80s (as well as a bit in the ’90s) gave way to the company concentrating its efforts on GT3 and GT2 racing, leaving outright wins to Audi. Half of the field in any given GT3-class race is now made up of Porsche 911s, but it seems that Porsche has gotten bored with this, as the company came back to LMP1 racing last year and took a 1-2 win at Le Mans this year.
The question following this win was whether Porsche was making a serious return to LMP1 or if this was just to prove that Porsche still had what it takes to win, sort of like what Bentley did in 2003. Porsche has now given official word that the LMP1 racing program, centered around the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid prototype, will continue until 2018. Porsche is surely pushing for those three more seasons to translate into three more outright wins at Le Mans, but Audi is definitely going to have a thing or two say about that, and we’re likely to see some very close races in the next few years.
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Why it matters
Porsche’s press release didn’t actually put much emphasis on the most recent win, or even on the many wins that came before it, something you can do when your legacy is that secure. Porsche instead took the opportunity to talk about the importance of endurance racing in developing technology for road cars. In this case, it specifically talks about advancements in fuel efficiency. The 919’s engine is the most efficient ever built by Porsche, and the car’s hybrid system is the most efficient at energy recovery of any ever made by any manufacturer. These are important accomplishments, but none of it really means anything to a sports car manufacturer if it can’t win races too. This year’s race proved it can, but wouldn’t hurt to rack up a few more wins to really drive the point home.
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