- Porsche revealed its 2014 Le Mans Prototype 1 car on Wednesday, but did not detail any specifications.
- Factory driver Timo Bernhard shook down the new car at the Porsche test track.
- The car will compete in next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
WEISSACH, Germany — Its competition debut is almost a year away, but the Porsche Le Mans Prototype 1 racing car made its shakedown run ahead of schedule on Wednesday at the carmaker's test facility near its Stuttgart headquarters. Porsche still is not talking about the LMP1's specifications, however.
Factory driver Timo Bernhard put the new machine through its paces Wednesday, several weeks ahead of schedule, according to Porsche.
Announcement of the company's plan to return to the top tier of endurance sports-car racing with a factory entry and bid for another overall championship in the 24 Hours of Le Mans came on June 30, 2011. The new LMP1 machine has been under development ever since.
"We are well on schedule," said Fritz Enzinger, head of the LMP1 program. "Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible."
Porsche is far ahead of all competitors with overall victories at Le Mans, but hasn't had an overall Le Mans win since 1998, when the company claimed its 16th title.
It faces a daunting task to outperform its corporate cousin Audi, which has won three in a row, eight of the last nine and 11 of 13 at Circuit de la Sarthe. Both brands are part of Volkswagen Group.
Audi has prevailed against the challenges of Peugeot, which mounted a program to compete with Audi's R10 TDI turbodiesel, and Toyota, which is challenging Audi's R18 e-tron quattro diesel-electric hybrid, the overall winner from last year. Peugeot managed one Le Mans victory in 2009.
All manufacturers will be competing under new rules announced a year ago. The rules will go into effect in the 2014 running of the Le Mans classic. Primary among the changes is a limit on fuel, aimed at reducing consumption by 30 percent compared to the 2012 models.
"From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency," Enzinger said. "This makes the competition amongst engineers more interesting and presents us with completely new challenges."
Edmunds says: Will Audi's amazing run continue against new rules and a challenge from Porsche? Almost makes this month's 2013 Le Mans race seem like a prelude.