BBC Autos

Porsche Le Mans racer: First test

  • Porsche LMP1 sports prototype
    Company works driver Timo Bernhard gives the 2014 Le Mans car its first shakedown at the German automaker's test track in Weissach. (Porsche)
  • Porsche LMP1 sports prototype
    Company works driver Timo Bernhard gives the 2014 Le Mans car its first shakedown at the German automaker's test track in Weissach. (Porsche)
  • Porsche LMP1 sports prototype
    Company works driver Timo Bernhard gives the 2014 Le Mans car its first shakedown at the German automaker's test track in Weissach. (Porsche)
  • Porsche LMP1 sports prototype
    Company works driver Timo Bernhard gives the 2014 Le Mans car its first shakedown at the German automaker's test track in Weissach. (Porsche)
  • Porsche LMP1 sports prototype
    At the Weissach test track (from left): Fritz Enzinger, head of LMP1; Wolfgang Hatz, board member for research and development; and Matthias Müller, president and CEO. (Porsche)

HIDE CAPTION

Last month we told you about Hans Hermann. This 85-year-old once raced alongside Juan Manuel Fangio and was nailing European mountain passes in a privately owned Porsche 356 before many of you out there could even sit up straight on your own.

He's also an important man over at Weissach, because it was he, in a Porsche 917, who capped off an astonishing racing career by taking overall victory at Le Mans for Porsche in 1970 for the first time. We're pretty sure he's paying attention today.

Because today we see the first pictures of Porsche's LMP1 contender for 2014, 15 years since Porsche last competed for overall victory in the top tier of Le Mans. That's right, the one Audi has dominated for a very long time.

Porsche is amped up about its high-profile return, too. It has expanded its workshop building and office complex to build next year's car, seen above in rather fetching camouflage. And works driver Timo Bernhard was the gentleman responsible for taking it out for a test spin. In front of the entire Board of Porsche AG. No pressure then, Timo.

"I'm very proud that I was the one to take our baby through its first paces today," Timo beams. "Already the car feels great." Did you catch that, Audi?

There's no word on the spec of the new LMP1 racer, but 2014's regulations are concerned primarily with efficiency, so take that as you will. Fritz Enzinger, head of the LMP1 programme, noted how the new regulations make "the competition amongst engineers more interesting". As long as we see LMP1 cars going toe-to-toe, consider us interested.

Of course, Porsche has a little bit of breathing space, should it fail in its efforts next year. While Audi has won at Le Mans 11 times – and Ferrari nine – Porsche has recorded 16 overall victories at La Sarthe. Will 2014 make it 17? Only time will tell.

This story originally appeared on TopGear.com.