LM24: Porsche announces Le Mans return for 2014.

The 917K sports 5000 prototype of KG Salzburg; Porsche's first outright Le Mans winner. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

The 917K sports 5000 prototype of KG Salzburg; Porsche's first outright Le Mans winner. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

After years of intense speculation, Porsche AG today confirmed its long-rumoured intentions for a return to the top-tier of sports prototype racing via the release of a promotional video (see below), signaling its plans to enter the currently factory-diesel dominated LMP1 ranks as of 2014.

Porsche Motorsport revealed preliminary details of the marque’s historic return by announcing the undertaking of its LMP1 development programme, with a planned factory assault for outright honours at the the 2014 edition of the Le Mans 24 hour event.

Technical information has not yet been provided. Further details regarding the nature of the chassis, engine, or programme are yet to be confirmed.

Porsche's most recent outright Le Mans winner, the 911 GT1. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

Porsche's most recent outright Le Mans winner, the 911 GT1. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

“Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.” – Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG.

Given Porsche’s already clear desire for the development, demonstration, and motorsport application of energy recovery technologies (as evidenced by the GT3R Hybrid), the manufacturer’s new LMP is expected to be bear a petrol-hybrid powertrain. This is yet to be confirmed by official sources, and likely dependent on allowances afforded by (not-yet published) ACO technical regulations.

Porsche last raced for outright honours in 1998, when the marque’s factory lineup of McNish, Ortelli and Aiello secured the German manufacturer’s sixteenth and most recent outright victory at Le Mans.

What effect (if any) the announcement may have on the motorsport future of VAG sister company, Audi is yet to be confirmed.

Edit:

AudiSport official response:

“This is the decision of Porsche company, a decision in which Audi is not involved. Audi relishes the prospect of every strong new opponent at Le Mans and in the new FIA World Endurance Championship. Porsche’s entry into the LMP1 class is evidence of the high level of attraction of sport prototypes.”

Video:

Comments: 

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport:

“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 programme 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.”

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LMS: Pescarolo; The Triumphant Return.

 

Pescarolo, Nicolet, and Rivière at yesterdays liquidation sale.

Pescarolo, Nicolet, and Rivière celebrate the rebirth of the Pescarolo squad. - Image Courtesy lemans.org

In an era where war, famine, financial downturns, and crippling misfortune are all part of the average person’s daily news intake, occasionally ‘something has to give’. Having never been a firm believer in karma, this writer can only label the events covered in this article as poetic justice.

After months of public misfortune at the hands of investors, and the eventual loss of the team that not only bore his name but, in many ways epitomised the very spirit of Le Mans, one would have forgiven Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo for adopting a pessimistic mindset. Having been placed under Administration earlier during the year and, subsequently heading into receivership, the assets of PescaroloSport were due to be auctioned yesterday in the Le Mans TechnoPark.

What was expected to be the depressing final chapter of a motorsport legacy, turned out to be (to the surprise of all) the blossoming of a new and uplifting chapter in the Pescarolo story. During yesterday’s liquidation sale, OAK Motorsport team owner Jacques Nicolet and Joel Rivière, owner of Prestige Racing, secured the purchase of vital PescaroloSport assets. The joint venture saw the pair acquire both Pescarolo P01 chassis, in addition to an array of assorted technical support equipment (valued at over US $550,000) crucial to team operations.

What happened next, is nothing short of remarkable. To the surprise of all in attendance, Nicolet and Rivière revealed their intention to return the purchased assets to their prior owner. By the close of the auction, Henri had already received the keys to the workshop. As a testament to the spirit of Le Mans, Nicolet has also vowed to ensure Pescarolo is supplied with all necessary equipment upon his return to competition. This includes required aerodynamic chassis development in order to allow the P01 to comply with 2011 ACO technical regulations. The reborn Pescarolo squad will now run under the name ‘Pescarolo Team.’

Pescarolo later made the following comments to Endurance-info:

“I’m amazed and somewhat reconciled. We’ll have to get back to work to allow the restart of the team. It’s a big responsibility but we cannot disappoint the trust that has been placed upon us.”