Porsche will enter the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship with two LMP1 racing cars. This comes after months of development with Le Mans 2014 being their major concern. Next year’s FIAWEC calendar has eight races and Porsche has planned for three drivers per car.
Currently Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Neel Jani (Switzerland) are already in the testing and development programme with Australian Mark Webber expected to join the team by 2014. Meanwhile, German driver Marc Lieb of the Porsche works from the GT programme and young New Zealander Brendon Hartley are set to take part in the testing programme.
During a Porsche Press event dubbed “Meet the heroes of Le Mans” that was held in Hockenheim on October 7–8, Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of LMP1 at Porsche, introduced his senior management team for the new LMP1 programme:
“Above all, long-distance racing is a team effort. The highly complex technical regulations for 2014 also require the use of the latest hybrid technology. When forming the entire team, we therefore draw on an efficient combination of long-standing Porsche employees and specialists from various international motor racing classes.”
Alexander Hitzinger (41) was chosen as the Technical Director LMP1, he has been developing Porsche LMP1 racing car since the end of 2011. His experience ranges from being the Head of F1 Development for Cosworth and Head of Advanced Technologies at Red Bull.
Andreas Seidl (37) the Director Race Operations LMP1 for the Weissach based works team is currently working on putting together a team of drivers from the ongoing tests. The Bavarian Seidl headed test and race operations at the BMW Sauber Formula 1 Team and was Head of Race Operations when BMW returned to DTM.
Porsche is not new to Le Mans; they had their first overall win in 1970 and 1971 with the Porsche 917 race car. The Porsche Austria team of Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood gave it their all. In 1996 Porsche had their 14th win at Le Mans with the WSC race car powered by a 3-litre flat-six engine with 2 turbochargers and a power output of around 550 hp. At only 22 years of age, Alexander Wurz became the youngest winner in the history of Le Mans.
Porsche have not competed at Le Mans since their overall win in 1998 with the 911 GT1-98. Attempts were made after failing to return in 1999 where a Porsche LMP car was created to race in the 2000 season. Porsche cancelled it citing that it would rather use the funds for the Cayenne SUV. However, despite missing Le Mans for over a decade, Porsche has been active in the GT3 and GT2 classes with the 911s.
The big question that lingers on people’s mind is; does Porsche have what it takes to end Audi’s winning streak in FIAWEC? Toyota has tried its best with the ferocious TS030 Hybrids but Audi is still extending its number of wins!