Porsche hasn't raced at Le Mans since 2017, but on Friday Porsche showed the car that will mark the brand's return to big-time road racing, the Porsche 963.
The 963 prototype race car was shown for the first time at England's Goodwood Festival of Speed. The 963 will compete not only in the FIA World Endurance Championship's LMDh (hypercar) class, but also in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's new GTP class.
The hybrid powertrain starts with a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 based on the engine from the 918 Spyder hypercar. Porsche says the engine's DNA dates all the way back to the RS Spyder race car campaigned from 2005 to 2008. It uses hybrid components from Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering, and Xtrac, and it makes 680 hp.
To comply with LMDh regulations, the car is based on the chassis from the current WEC LMP2 class. Canada's Multimatic, which builds the Ford GT supercar, developed the chassis.
The car's design was influenced by the 956 and 962 racers from the 1980s, but it also features a continuous lighting strip at the rear like the current 911.
Porsche Penske Motorsport will build four cars and field them as factory racers, and customer cars will be available some time during the 963's first year of competition. The factory cars will wear the white, red, and black paint scheme of current Porsche race cars. Factory works drivers and experienced sports car drivers will team up to pilot the cars in the WEC and IMSA series. The roster will consist of Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre, Mathieu Jaminet, André Lotterer, Felipe Nasr, and Laurens Vanthoor. Additional drivers will be added for endurance events, including Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The 963 has undergone 4,900 miles of testing, including at the Porsche Motorsport headquarters in Weissach, Germany. However, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport Thomas Laudenbach says more work needs to be done. Porsche Penske Motorsport plans for an on-track debut in November in the WEC season finale at Bahrain, where the 963 will test in a non-competitive class. Porsche says the car will be homologated by this autumn.
The official first race will come next January at the 24 Hours of Daytona in IMSA's GTP class.
The 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed runs June 23-26. For more coverage, check out our dedicated hub.