Porsche Introduces 2014 LMP1 Le Mans Racer
Porsche rolled out its 2014 LMP1 Le Mans endurance racer on June 12 at its test track in Weissach, Germany. Porsche factory driver Timo Bernhard put the first laps on the new cart while the entireborad fo directors looked on.
The car was ready for rollout several weeks ahead of schedule. “Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible, said project leader Fritz Enzinger in a Porsche press release.
“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.”
Details are hard to see as the new car is painted in swirls opf black and white to camouflage its most intricate aerodynamic features. From what can be seen from photos, the design is unremarkable; the venting holes are atop the fenders, the nose is not as narrow as on the new Dome or the old Peugeot 908, and the fenders seem blunter than on the Dome or the HPD ARX 03c.
Rumors say the car will be a gasoline/electric hybrid, but no word has leaked yet as to whether the car will use batteries, a flywheel, or super-capacitors for energy storage.
A Serious Undertaking
Porsche is not re-entering the top class of global endurance racing casually. An entire new factory complex was built, and new division created within the company. A factory team, including Porsche prototype veterans Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, will race the car in 2014. The company has not yet said if the car will be available to customer teams after that.
“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.”
Berhard and Dumas were drivers of the last Porsche LMP entry, the Porsche RS Spyder, which competed in the American Le Mans Series and at Le Mans between 2005 and 2010, and at Le Mans and in the Le Mans Series, earning several overall and class wins including an overall win at Sebring in 2008. Dumas won the ALMS drivers’ title twice and Bernhard once in the RS Spyder.
Porsche is no stranger to the podium at Le Mans, having won the event outright sixteen times since 1970.
According to Executive Board Chairman Matthias Müller, the LMP1 project will impact Porsche road cars as well.
“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,” Muller said in the press release.
The 2013 Le Mans 24-hour race takes the green flag at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 22. Porsche will be represented in the GT ranks. Not until 2014 will the factory return to the top class and contest again for an overall win.