In 2023, with the Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) program, Porsche is returning to the highest tier of endurance sports. The Porsche 963 is a hybrid race car with a high level of complexity, and its customers are top international teams with the necessary qualifications. Companies having their technical directors, engineers, mechanics, sponsorship and marketing departments, top drivers, and simulators are considered to be established. A 963 costs approximately €2.5 million, with annual operating expenses of €8 to €10 million. These investments must be profitable, and success is the only currency.
Anyone who purchases a Porsche receives an abundance of documentation, user manuals, and catalogues, and they must be able to acquire spare parts.
Jota (UK) and JDC-Miller MotorSports (USA) were the first customer teams to purchase a new prototype for IMSA and WEC events months before homologation, which refers to the formal competition permission for the Porsche 963. For the 2024 season, Porsche intends to raise the number of customer cars in both racing series from two to four.
In January 2023, the outstanding V8 racing car with a system output of about 500 kW (680 PS) will make its premiere at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Acura, BMW, and Cadillac have also produced LMDh race cars for the newest prototype class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, creating a heated rivalry. The LMHs, which include Peugeot, Ferrari, Glickenhaus and Toyota, are also competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Due to a previous agreement, Porsche is able to compete in both the IMSA and WEC series with the same car. Le Mans organiser Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and the US American International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced a new set of rules on January 24, 2020. The objective is to maximise power density by utilising as many prototypes as possible and a sophisticated set of restrictions to prevent prices from soaring.
They implemented the first-ever dynamic regulations in this sport’s premier division. This type of balance of performance (BoP), which allows the organisers to adopt technological measures when a single vehicle maintains superiority for an extended period of time, has only ever existed in GT classes that are nearly identical to one another. As a direct consequence of this BoP, making substantial investments in the improvement of performance may no longer be financially beneficial. If additional weight or other constraints were imposed, the results of several hours of testing in a wind tunnel or the use of sophisticated electronics would be rendered meaningless.
The second important step in keeping costs low is excluding base components from development from the outset. Consequently, all LMDh vehicles are equipped with the identical Xtrac seven-speed motorsport transmission and hybrid system, which includes the Bosch electronic control unit and the Williams Advanced Engineering battery. Michelin manufactures standard tyres. The associations accepted Dallara, Ligier, ORECA, and Multimatic as chassis manufacturers for the monocoque and chassis. Porsche is the first and only partner of Multimatic, as well as the first automaker to test the hybrid system and tyres. Porsche is the first and only partner of Multimatic, as well as the first automaker to test the hybrid system and tyres.
The LMDh standards do not restrict the internal combustion engine’s displacement, design, or number of cylinders. As the foundation for Porsche’s return to the top class, the company chose an old, familiar engine. The 918 Spyder was based on the LMP2 RS Spyder race vehicle, as stated by the manufacturer. The dry sump lubrication of the 918 was already optimised for high lateral acceleration. For minimum weight and performance, the 4.6-litre engine provides an exceptional foundation for an LMDh drive. The engine was tuned for the 963.
In a few weeks, when Porsche competes again for overall victories, these will all be significant aspects of the competition.
Engine: Twin turbo V8 combustion engine
Displacement: 4.6 litres
Performance: 500 kW (680 PS) at 10.000 1/min
Gears: Single specification hybrid system, 7-speed racing transmission, pneumatically: actuated
Weight: ca. 1000 kg (2204.62 lbs)