• credit: Frits van Eldik
Porsche RS Spyder at Le Mans – Click above for high-res image gallery

No automaker has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans as many times as Porsche. Not Audi, with its ten wins to Porsche's sixteen, or Ferrari's nine. But those were all a long time ago. In fact, Porsche's most recent was with the 911 GT1 back in 1998.

Since then, Porsche has been pussyfooting around at the iconic round-the-clock race. The successor to the GT1 was aborted and turned into the Carrera GT road car. Sure, the RS Spyder (pictured above) has performed admirably in the LMP2 class, and 911s fielded by privateers have dominated the GT classes for years. But it's been over a decade since Porsche has competed for an overall win.

That's about to change, however, as Porsche has announced, through the video and press release after the jump, its intent to return to Le Mans to challenge for the win in 2014. To get there, Porsche plans a new LMP1 car, although it has released little in the way of details on what form that car will take.

If you're wondering where this leaves Audi, which falls under the same corporate umbrella as Porsche, the Ingolstadt-based automaker's team posted on Facebook that the decision was made independently by its Stuttgart-based sister company and that it looks forward to the competition. So we won't expect Audi to be dropping out any time soon for lack of anything to prove, even after ten victories out of twelve years, nor supporting the Porsche entry like it did with Bentley's in 2003.

Watching Porsche take on the likes of Audi, Peugeot, Aston Martin and the other automakers anticipated to be joining the field in the coming years ought to produce some nail-biting race action. But in the meantime, you can scope out the video and press release after the jump and the gallery of high-resolution images showcasing Porsche's rich Le Mans heritage.

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Porsche returns to Le Mans in 2014

Stuttgart. Porsche returns to Le Mans with a works-run LMP1 sports prototype. The first outing of the completely new developed race car is planned for the year 2014. With 16 overall victories, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in Le Mans. The most recent win was in 1998 with the Porsche 911 GT1.

"Motorsport was always an essential part of the Porsche brand," emphasises 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 unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory."

With the RS Spyder sports prototype that was run with great success from 2006 to 2008 by the factory-backed Penske Racing team in the USA and to 2010 by several customer teams worldwide, Porsche has set the benchmark recently in the LMP2 category. "With the RS Spyder we proved that our motorsport engineers in Weissach are at the forefront," says Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG. "For instance, we were the first to run a high-revving race engine with direct fuel injection, DFI, setting new standards in performance and efficiency. Recently, with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, we adopted a completely new drive technology for racing purposes and achieved a considerable reduction in consumption."

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport, is already prepared for one of the most challenging development programmes in the company's history. "We're looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder. After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype programme 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 legendary 917 short-tail. The 16th and by now last overall win was secured by Laurent Aiello, Stéphane Ortelli and Allan McNish in 1998 with the 911 GT1. In the years 2008 and 2009, the Porsche RS Spyder sports prototype won the title in the LMP2 category.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wouldn't bet against them. If there is one thing Porsche knows, it's racing.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is so exciting. Its my first comment since autoblog's new commenting system. Hopefully Porsche will build a car capable of keeping up with Audi and Peugeot. Should make for some of the most exciting racing ever.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Porsche vs Audi vs Peugeot in 2014. I'm looking forward to it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Back to the glory days! Time to teach a lesson or two to brother Audi and put him in his place.
      • 3 Years Ago
      When Porsche returns the party will be over for Audi, Peugeot or anyone else. Porsche will not let anyone get close to their record.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is about time Porsche looked to get back into the mix for the overall win. Unfortunately, it will have more to do with what way the rulebook goes. LeMans has lost it's luster for me. No more machines like the Porsche 917 and no more Mulsanne Straight.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great news for Le Mans fans. I love seeing more manufacturers in the series. Toyota also gearing up for LMP1 and Viper back in GT. Reminds me of the old days.
        • 3 Years Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      sounds like Porsche is afraid of their 16 overall wins. i mean Audi won 10 of the last 11 races and no end in sight. nonetheless, great news!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Um Audi hasn't won the last 10. Far from it. 2009 - Peugeot 2003 - Bentley They've had 10 victories, not the last 10 victories.
          • 3 Years Ago
          Of course, the Bentley was pretty much a reincarnation of the R8C, and VAG owns Bentley (and did at the time)... so it kinda sorta counts as Audi?
          • 3 Years Ago
          yup, even the drivers were from Audi ( Mc Nish etc.)
      Joshua Ratz
      • 2 Years Ago
      No more Peugeot - no, no, no - they're through for a while - it will be Porsche vs. Audi vs. Toyota in 2014 and I believe the only one with a vowel begin to begin its name will win. They just get it year in year out, with the exception of '09, but every other year Audi brought something to the table. In fact, you could practically say they made it to the podium every year since 1999. That's a hell of a feat. This is just second nature with Audi. Unless there's another manufacturer out there that can go toe to toe with Audi for anything more than 3 years, they'll never beat them. Toyota may do it in 2013, but highly unlikely since they still haven't proved they can go longer than 9 hours yet. Porsche if well prepared might do that on debut or suffer like everyone else.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The RS Spyders didn't have trouble keeping up with the Audis in the turns at Petit Le Mans a few years ago. The only problem they had was keeping up with them on Road Atlanta's long straights. Now just imagine them with more power and a much more capable engine than the V8 that was used in the RS Spyders. I have a feeling they're going to use the V8 and hybrid system from the 918 Concept. The engine has capable power and the hybrid system has been proven to be incredible (See: Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid).
        Mike B
        • 3 Years Ago
        That was because of the super LMP2s that IMSA created, they put around 110lbs of ballasts to LMP1s and dropped the weight of LMP2s by 200lbs compared to what the ACO aspecified and to top it all, most of the tracks favor the smaller LMP2s by being narrow and twisty. On the LMS and Le Mans such thing never happened and the LMP1s were clearly faster.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That would be kind of epic if Martini & Rossi suddenly decided to pick up the sponsorship.
      enri Ortsa
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would rather see Mazda back, along with the Rotary engine.
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