Come four o’clock on Saturday it will be exactly one week until the French flag drops to begin the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Audi and Toyota will both contend for top spot on the podium for overall victory in the infamous French enduro. And while Audi has done just about everything there is to do at Le Mans since the beginning of the century, there’s another German company that is just a bit fed up with the quadruple-ring car manufacturer winning everything.
Yes, Porsche’s back, and by the looks of it they’re preparing to start a civil war with Audi on the La Sarthe circuit in 2014.
After a long and tantalizing wait, Porsche has finally pulled the wraps off of the car it will campaign in the 2014 WEC season. Well, sort of. The car is still covered in camouflage, but the important bit is that the shape of the car no longer needs to be speculated by armchair enthusiasts with a broad imagination. The car was put through its paces by Timo Bernhard on Porsche’s own test track in Weissach, Germany, and if the name Timo Bernahrd sounds familiar it may be because he won at Le Mans in 2010. With an Audi.
Porsche claims that the shakedown for the car was “several weeks ahead of schedule” as they had originally planned for the car to first touch the track’s surface in July. Bernhard told AUTOSPORT that “the car feels great” and that he is looking forward to further testing along with the only other teammate who is confirmed to be driving the car next year, Romain Dumas.
And, in the words of James May, there’s good news! While Porsche has yet to release information about the technical specifications of the car, they have said that the car will be powered by a petrol engine. From the sounds of that, you won’t need to worry to much about a silent Audi R18 flying by without you knowing it.
Porsche fans are not the only ones who should be excited by this news, however. Racing fans in general should be genuinely excited of Porsche’s long awaited return to motorsport, and there is great chance that with this we may be well on our way to the best era of Le Mans racing in decades.
Before Porsche left the top category at Le Mans, the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer was the racing equivalent to Zeus on the La Sarthe circuit. Or, in more understandable terms, they were the equivalent to what Audi is today. In the 1970s, Porsche won practically everything in their all-conquering 917, and the same was the case in the 1980s with their lightning-quick Group C racers the 956 and 962.
With Porsche making their return to Le Mans next year, however, they are entering into a much more competitive racing world. Audi has learned how to absolutely dominate at Le Mans through their eleven wins, and Toyota, although they have yet to win a race in this 2013 WEC season, is learning extraordinarily quickly about how to perform well.
Although the 2013 Le Mans race has yet to begin, what can we expect to see at Le Mans next year? Personally, I think Audi will win yet again, however, Toyota should be approaching the height of its competitiveness next year and should put up an exceptionally strong fight that will hopefully last the entire twenty-four hours.
And Porsche? It may take a bit before the truly get on par with the other German team, but they should certainly put up a strong fight based on their knowledge of how to get things done at Le Mans. They did win sixteen times, mind you.
It should be a good fight, however, and a fight that will hopefully last the entirety of the race. All the more reason to grab some energy drinks and tape to make sure that you stay awake for the whole race.