Porsche's first challenger for outright honors at the Le Mans 24 Hours for 16 years has run for the first time ahead of schedule. The new Porsche LMP1 hybrid was given a rollout on Wednesday on the German manufacturer's Weissach test track at its research and development facility by factory driver Timo Bernhard.
The shakedown for the coupe, which has been built to the 2014 energy-based LMP1 rulebook for next year's World Endurance Championship, was described as "several weeks" ahead of schedule. It had been indicated by Porsche that the car would hit the track in July.
"We are well on schedule," Fritz Enzinger, head of LMP1 at Porsche, said. "Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible. This allows us a few additional weeks for more testing and further development. From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency and present us with completely new challenges."
Bernhard, who won Le Mans in 2011 while on loan to Porsche sister marque Audi, said that he was "very proud that I was the one to take our baby through its paces today.
"Already the car feels great," he continued. "I look forward to testing the vehicle in the coming weeks and months with my friend and colleague Romain Dumas [the only other driver confirmed for Porsche's 2014 WEC lineup]."
Porsche has yet to reveal technical details or a name or type number for its new LMP1 coupe. It has only stated that it will be powered by a gasoline engine.