Porsche to chase top honours with Le Mans return

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Porsche is to return to Le Mans in 2014 with a full factory LMP1 prototype car, ending a 16-year absence from the 24 Hours race.

The move, announced by the Stuttgart-based company today, means that Porsche will field a factory-based team at the endurance classic for the first time since 1998 when it claimed the last of its 16 outright victories through Allan McNish, Stephane Ortelli and Laurent Aiello.

"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. The success of Porsche at Le Mans is unrivalled.We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory."

Porsche is the most successful manufacturer to have raced at Le Mans, notching up 16 outright wins between 1970, when Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood claimed the first overall victory with the legendary 917 short-tail, and 1998 with the afore-mentioned 911 GT1 win.

Since then, the marque has been well represented in the GT category and recently in the LMP2 section with two class victories in 2008 and 2009 with the RS Spyder sports prototype.

It looks as though Porsche will focus on a car using hybrid technology, a technology already seen with its 911 GT3 R Hybrid, although few details have been forthcoming.

"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, Head of Porsche Motorsport.

"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."