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Porsche’s new hybrid Le Mans car breaks cover as testing begins


The LMDh regulations cap the cars' downforce:drag ratio, so designers don't have to spend as much time worrying about aerodynamics and can use more road car styling cues. Not that you can really make that out on this wrapped prototype.
Enlarge / The LMDh regulations cap the cars’ downforce:drag ratio, so designers don’t have to spend as much time worrying about aerodynamics and can use more road car styling cues. Not that you can really make that out on this wrapped prototype.

Porsche

If there were any doubts about Porsche taking its return to prototype racing seriously, they’re now gone.

The company’s new car is not due to race in earnest until this time next year; in fact, it’s so early in the car’s development that it hasn’t been officially named. But that hasn’t stopped the automaker, together with Penske Racing, from starting the new car’s track testing program ahead of competing in two championship series in 2023, beginning with next year’s 24-hour race at Daytona in Florida.

“The rollout of the LMDh racing car was also the first track outing for Porsche Penske Motorsport,” said Urs Kuratle, project manager for Porsche’s LMDh program. “The squad worked well together right from the start. This shows a high level of professionalism in all areas. After all, the operational requirements for the safe running of a hybrid vehicle are very high. In the next outings, we will focus on going deeper into the required processes and procedures. During these first test days at Weissach, the V8-biturbo impressed us in every respect. We’re convinced that we’ve chosen precisely the right unit.”

It helps that Porsche has its own test track at Weissach, where it develops its motorsport machines.
Enlarge / It helps that Porsche has its own test track at Weissach, where it develops its motorsport machines.

Porsche

As Kuratle notes, Porsche might not have a name for the LMDh car yet, but it does have an engine—a racing variant of the 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that you’ll find under the hood of some Porsche Panameras and Cayennes.

“We were spoiled for choice with the engine for our LMDh prototype because the product range offers several promising baseline units,” said Thomas Laudenbach, vice president of Porsche Motorsport. “We decided on the V8-biturbo, which we feel offers the best combination of performance characteristics, weight, and costs. The kick-off to the active test program was an important step for the project.”

Porsche and Penske will compete in the WeatherTech championship in the US and the World Endurance Championship. Audi will also race (and sell) a closely related LMDh car.
Enlarge / Porsche and Penske will compete in the WeatherTech championship in the US and the World Endurance Championship. Audi will also race (and sell) a closely related LMDh car.

In road car trim, the twin-turbo V8 revs to about 6,200 rpm and generates 550 hp (410 kW); I expect the racing variant to be a bit spicier, as the regulations allow for up to 10,000 rpm. But like the Turbo S E-Hybrid Cayenne and Panamera, the V8 is not the whole story.

For the LMDh car, the engine will work in concert with a standard hybrid system developed by Bosch Motorsport, with batteries supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering and an Xtrac transmission, with total system output capped at 680 hp (500 kW).



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