Is Porsche even Porsche without a top-flight 911 race car? I guess we’ll find out soon, because the current mid-engine 911 RSR will be the last of its kind for the foreseeable future. Because Porsche is shifting its focus to the LMDh prototype program, which will make its debut in 2023, it won’t be developing another version of such a car. As the current GTE specification begins to die, there is no longer going to be anywhere for the RSR to continue to live. The 911 GT3 R will continue to play on as Porsche’s customer race car, but will carry on without its big brother.
Obviously with GTE being phased out of the IMSA series at the end of the season, and with the class leaving the WEC grid after 2023, there’s not much time for a new chassis to be developed, let alone raced. Porsche will continue to offer 911 RSRs to GTE customer teams through 2023, despite the 991 generation having been over for a few years by that point. “There are only two years to go, so for us, it wouldn’t really make sense to develop a new car,” Thomas Laudenbach, the new head of Porsche Motorsport, said in a media roundtable.
A new 992 GT3 R will bow next season, hopefully in time for the 2022 Daytona 24 race, to race in the GTD Pro category, which replaces GTE/GTLM from 2022 onward. GT3 continues to make sense for Porsche, as the style of racer will continue to play in the IMSA pool, and will replace GTE in WEC shortly. If customer teams want to go faster than GT3 in a Porsche, they’ll be able to buy a LMDh to fight for overall honors against the factory-backed efforts. “If you have a really professional, well-funded team, they’ll be happy to fight against the factory teams in LMDh,” Laudenbach continued. “And because of the rules, I think there’s a good chance for them to make our life difficult.”
That the hybrid LMDh prototypes won’t cost much more than a current-spec GTE is a testament to how expensive that class has become in recent years. That price aspect is likely a big part of why the class has experienced waning interest in recent years. There was a time just a few years ago when Ford, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Ferrari, BMW, and Porsche all had factory efforts at Le Mans, and the class was exploding with talent. Now Porsche is basically only fighting Ferrari in WEC.
Porsche’s LMDh will be testing before the end of 2021 despite it not launching until early 2023. The chassis, a Multimatic-developed car, has been racing for a few seasons already, Porsche just has to put their engine in it and bolt a small electric motor to the front axle. In typical Porsche and Penske fashion, the new car will be overbuilt for the class and should be motor sport viable as soon as it debuts.