Porsche's announced today that they will once again be competing in the LMP1 category at Le Mans starting in 2014. This is significant for a number of reason.
1. More Competition
It's probably not fair to call the LMP1 category of Le Mans "boring", but for Porsche fans (at least this particular one) that's what it's been for the last few years. The Peugeot vs. Audi battles are interesting, but a three way battle is simply more exciting. While the Porsche RS Spyder won the LMP2 title in 2008 and 2009, there last overall win was back in 1998 in the 911 GT1 piloted by Allan McNish, Laurent Aiello, and Stephane Ortelli.
2. A World Stage
ALMS and Grand-Am are fantastic racing series, but they don't have the same following or cache as the "top league" of racing. A return to Le Mans puts Porsche, their cars and their technology back on the racing world stage.
“Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand,” emphasized Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG. “So for us it was only a matter of time before we returned as a factory to the top league of racing. Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.”
3. Commitment to Their Core Audience
It's no secret that the majority of technological innovations we see in production Porsches come via the race track. As participants in the sports prototype class (LMP1) of Le Mans, Porsche is putting a stake in the ground. It doesn't matter how many Cayennes or Panameras they sell, first and foremost they are a company that builds sports cars. Sports cars that can win on the track!
“We’re looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder. “After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype program in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances. Now we will begin with detailed research in order to evaluate the various concept alternatives for our new car. These obviously depend on how the regulations for the year 2014 look in detail. In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.”
For even more info on Porsche's Return to Le Mans be sure to visit their new microsite for images, history and videos.