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Porsche: Long-term aim should be Le Mans Hypercar and LMDh unification

Porsche’s motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach says the next big step for global sportscar racing would be to unify its prototype classes into one set of rules in the longer term.

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport, Porsche 963, GTP: Mathieu Jaminet, Michael Christensen, Nick Tandy

The upcoming season will be the first where IMSA’s new-for-2023 LMDh regulations for its premier GTP class will race in the Hypercar category of the FIA World Endurance Championship, allowing Porsche’s 963 to race on both sides of the Atlantic.

There, it will race against Le Mans Hypercar machinery from fellow automotive giants Ferrari, Peugeot and Toyota that are built to a different rule set that allows for bespoke hybrid systems, which are also allowed to power the front axle.

The LMDh system is a common electrical hybrid that harvests and deploys on the rear axle only.

Laudenbach believes a further convergence in years to come would avoid the need for the performance balancing of two sets of rules, which is how IMSA, the FIA and Le Mans organiser the ACO will manage the immediate future.

“Long term, we should think about unifying these two classes again,” he told Autosport.

“It’s great we have had convergence that leads to the point where we can race our car in IMSA and WEC.

“Nevertheless, in WEC at least it means they have to balance the two categories. That makes it much more difficult than if you’d have the same set of rules for everybody. It’s how it is.

“The convergence came after these two classes were born, so nobody is to blame. It’s positive that they came together. Long term, I’d like to get rid of two different approaches.”

Peugeot and Toyota are WEC rivals running to Le Mans Hypercar rules

Peugeot and Toyota are WEC rivals running to Le Mans Hypercar rules

Photo by: Morgese / Gandolfi

When asked how he would suggest the rules move together, Laudenbach thinks increasing the potential of the LMDh cars’ hybrid system would be a sensible direction of travel – while realising that the automotive world might demand full electrification at some point in the future.

“If you take LMDh as a starting point, I think you can always climb up the ladder of increasing the electrical part of the powertrain,” he said.

“Next step might be to give more freedom, so extend the power and the storage system to put more importance on the electric part of the powertrain.

“One day, and it’s not tomorrow, we might come to a situation where we have to decide if we go to battery electric vehicles or not.

"Of course, the most crucial point of that is range, so probably long-distance racing is not the first one to completely electrify. But we have hybrids for now, and from that we can clearly extend in future.

“Then, in the long-term future, maybe we need that big step – you never know. Let’s see how far we go with this system.”

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