After 15 years away from the top class at the 24 Hours of LeMans, Porsche says it will return in 2014 to the race its won 16 times with a factory-built prototype. Will Porsche go wheel-to-wheel with corporate cousin Audi? UPDATED
While dozens of Porsches compete at LeMans every year, the automaker hasn't fielded its own competitor in the top LMP1 class since 1998, although its stillborn competitor for the 2000 season later evolved into the Porsche Carrera GT. Porsche did sponsor a LMP2 car in 2005-08. Given the power Porsche has coaxed from its 911 GT3 R Hybrid test car, it doesn't appear Porsche has lost any steps in modern racecar technology.
While the rules haven't been set for the 2014 season, what's not clear just yet is how Porsche's move affects Audi's triumphant diesel-powered LeMans program. With both now sharing a home under the Volkswagen garage, there were already rumors of bumpiness as each sorted where it wanted to set up race programs. Having two arms of the same company compete against each other seems like overkill, but stranger things have come from Germany.
UPDATE: Audi has this to say: "This is the decision of Porsche company, a decision in which Audi is not involved. Audi relishes the prospect of every strong new opponent at Le Mans and in the new FIA World Endurance Championship"
Translation: Bring it, Weissach.