Audi's days on top of Le Mans' LMP1 sports prototype-class may be numbered as Porsche has announced plans to return to the famed 24-hour endurance race in France in 2014.
"Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand," said Matthias Müller, president of the executive board at Porsche AG. "So for us it was only a matter of time before we returned as a factory to the top league of racing. Porsche's successes in Le Mans are unrivaled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory."
With 16 overall victories, Porsche is the most successful car manufacturer to compete in Le Mans.
Despite the fact that its projected return to Le Mans is still three years away, the German carmaker is already busy preparing for one of the most challenging development programs in its history.
"We’re looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder," said Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Motorsport's chief. "After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype program 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."
Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood claimed the first overall victory for Porsche in 1970 with the 917 short-tail. The 16th and currently last overall win was secured by Laurent Aiello, Stéphane Ortelli and Allan McNish in 1998 with the 911 GT1.
Check out Porsche's promotional video of its return to Le Mans below.