Porsche has been a strong name in endurance races in past years and starting with the 2023 season, the German sportscar maker will enter a new LMDh prototype to again fight for overall victory in the world’s greatest endurance races – Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring.
The racing car to be fielded in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be entered as the Porsche Penske Motorsport team. With a year to go before the first race at the 24 Hours of Daytona, an intensive test programme is now underway.
In selecting the combustion engine to complement the standard hybrid elements, as stipulated by the regulations, Porsche opted for a large-capacity twin-turbo V8 unit. The powerful engine is designed to run on renewable fuels(also a regulatory requirement), which means a significant reduction in CO2 in the exhaust emissions. During the race, the system output of the hybrid drive will be able to reach around 500 kW (680 ps).
“We were spoiled for choice with the engine for our LMDh prototype, because the product range offers several promising baseline units,” explained Thomas Laudenbach, Vice-President 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 programme was an important step for the project.”
Added Urs Kuratle, Overall Project Manager LMDh at Porsche Motorsport: “The rollout of the LMDh racing car was also the first track outing for Porsche Penske Motorsport. 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.”
The engine regulations for the LMDh vehicle class allow a great deal of freedom in terms of displacement, design and number of cylinders. Maximum engine speed is 10,000 rpm, with the pass-by noise measurement capped at 110 decibels. The engine must weigh a minimum of 180 kgs, including the air supply and exhaust system as well as the peripheral cooling components. If used, this weight also incorporates the turbocharger/s including the charge air cooling.
In line with the regulations, the maximum output lies between 480 and 520 kW (653 to 707 ps). This range also allows adjustments to be made within the Balance of Performance (BoP) parameters, which are intended to ensure parity between all competing LMDh racing cars. The torque curve is also clearly defined; under racing conditions, the combined power output of the combustion engine and hybrid drive totals 500 kW (680 ps) at the half-shafts.
The standard components for the recuperation, storage and delivery of electrical energy are supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering (battery), Bosch (motor-generator unit and control electronics) and Xtrac (transmission).
Porsche and Penske are old partners in motorsport, with a proven track record of success. This partnership had a lasting impact from 2006 to 2008 on what was then the American Le Mans Series. Team Penske has made a name for itself with an almost unparalleled success story in motorsport. In the long list of victories to-date, however, the name Le Mans has been missing.
“I hope that we will finally be able to chalk up this success as of 2023 with Porsche Penske Motorsport. This would then mark Porsche’s 20th overall victory at La Sarthe – a dream come true,” said Fritz Enzinger, Head of Porsche Motorsport. The contract between Porsche and the American racing team, which was founded in 1966, will run for a number of years.
The prototypes will also be entered by Porsche customer teams in both championships as early as 2023. The partner teams will be given full support from the factory and whatever insights gained from efforts of the works team will also be shared with them.
“In the medium term, Porsche focuses on three different drive concepts: fully electric vehicles, efficient plug-in hybrids and emotional combustion engines. We want to represent this trilogy in both the development of our cutting-edge road cars and in motorsport. We use the all-electric drive to contest the FIA Formula E as part of our works commitment, and the highly efficient and emotional combustion unit in GT racing. Now, the LMDh class closes the gap for us. There, powerful hybrid drives – like the ones that are mounted in many of our brand’s models – go up against each other. If the regulations eventually allowed the use of synthetic fuels, then that would be an even greater incentive for me in terms of sustainability,” said Michael Steiner, Board Member for Research & Development at Porsche.