Porsche has confirmed that it will withdraw from the World Endurance Championship (WEC) LMP1 class at the end of the current season and enter the Formula E championship from season six of the series in 2019/20. The brand, however, will continue its GT effort in WEC, with the Porsche 911 RSR now the focus of its combustion-engined racing efforts.
The carmaker has seen great success in the LMP1 class, with three Le Mans 24 Hour victories in a row. It has announced that its LMP1 team would remain intact; this includes drivers Nick Tandy, Neel Jani, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and André Lotterer, although it's not clear which championships they will race in.
Like almost all of the other road car manufacturers who have entered the Formula E championship, Porsche will enter the pure electric race series with the interest of furthering its electric car development. Development of the Stuttgart-based firm's first Formula E race car is already under way.
"Entering Formula E and achieving success in this category are the logical outcomes of our Mission E. The growing freedom for in-house technology developments makes Formula E attractive to us,” said Michael Steiner, board member for R&D at Porsche.
Porsche’s decision to quit LMP1 leaves Toyota as the only manufacturer committed for 2018, thereby bringing the future of the class in doubt. Its Volkswagen Group stablemate Audi withdrew from WEC last year as Volkswagen looked to cut costs amid ever growing Dieselgate levies.
The announcement also raises the possibility that Audi will enter the Formula 1, pending approval from the Volkswagen Group board, from the 2021 season when engine regulations are tweaked. This, however, is yet to be confirmed.
Earlier this week, Mercedes withdrew from the German touring car championship DTM and announced its entry into the Formula E from 2019/20 – the same year that Porsche is set to enter the championship.