The 24 Hours of Daytona 2022 officially marked the start of the international endurance season, at the same time marking the last edition of the Florida marathon with the DPi prototypes. There is great anticipation for 2023, the year in which the new GTP class will debut at Daytona, including the LMDhs announced by Porsche, Audi, BMW, Acura and Cadillacas well as potentially the Hypercars of Toyota, Peugeot and Ferrari, waiting for IMSA to dissolve its reservations on the admission of Glickenhaus. Porsche has recently released the first images of the latest creation from Zuffenhausen, which has already received the baptism of the track on the historic Weissach track, where other legendary cars have taken their first steps, starting from 917. The German manufacturer will field its own. cars on the track in synergy with the Penske team, another evocative name in the memories of Porsche enthusiasts and motorsport in general. Together Porsche and Penske will storm the IMSA championship and the FIA World Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the Stuttgart-based manufacturer holds the record for overall victories.
The new car complies with the LMDh regulations, equivalent in performance to the Hypercar prototypes, at least in theory, but different in the possible powertrain architectures. The hybrid part is in fact subject to standard supply for the LMDh, with the battery made by Williams Advanced Engineering, the transmission by Xtrac, while the electric motor generator and inverter are by Bosch. The Hypercars can also enjoy four-wheel drive thanks to the electric power that can be delivered to the front wheels, while the LMDhs are linked to rear-wheel drive while also having an electric motor. Finally, the heat engine is limited to 500 kW, the equivalent of 680 horseswith the power delivery curve defined directly by the organizers to balance the performance of the different power unit architectures.
However, there is great freedom in the fractionation and displacement of the heat engine. Thomas Laudenbachvice president of Porsche Motorsport, commented on the decision-making process that led to the decision on the engine installed on the prototype: “We were spoiled for choice for the engine for our LMDh, because our product offering includes numerous promising starting points.” The choice fell on a V8 biturbo, with the double turbocharger which thus turns out to be a common choice with the other hybrid prototypes already known, such as the Peugeot and Toyota Hypercars. On the other hand, the split philosophy is different, since the two Hypercars both have a V6, while Porsche opted for a V8, thus distributing power and consequently the stresses on a greater number of cylinders. The displacement remains to be revealed. The editorial staff of Sportscar365 reports that the power unit may derive from the engine used on the Panamera and Cayenne models, as it is the only twin-turbo V8 unit currently available in the Porsche offering. If everything were confirmed, the LMDh engine would be characterized by a displacement of 4 liters, higher than the 2.6 liters of Peugeot and the 3.5 liters. Since all the cars will run with the same thermal power, the higher displacement would result in a lower pressure in the combustion chamber and therefore also a lower supercharging for the turbochargers.
The image published by Porsche depicting the two turbines also reveals the arrangement of the internal components of the rear suspension. How widespread it is suggests that the engineers from Zuffenhausen have opted for the third anti-pitch element arranged longitudinally, with the anti-roll bar potentially oriented vertically, with an architecture that if confirmed would allow better separate control of the two aspects of vehicle dynamics.
The backbone of the car consists of the chassis made by Multimatic, one of the four companies involved in the production of LMDh bodies together with Oreca, Ligier and Dallara. As for Peugeot, Toyota and Glickenhaus, even in the Porsche prototype the driver finds a place in a decentralized position. The nose, on the other hand, houses large channels to convey the air to the sides of the passenger compartment, a feature shared with the Hypercars already presented, but which could have been exploited more thanks to the larger space freed up by the absence of the electric motor generator at the front. Also in the upper part, the wheel arch and the body are modeled with a design that delineates two channels to further accelerate the flow of air laterally to the central body. On the sides of the passenger compartment there are the two main air intakes for the cooling system, with a different shape than those seen so far. The radiator outlets are in fact lowered in comparison with the Peugeot 9X8, while longitudinally they are in an intermediate position with respect to the particularly advanced ones of the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and the rearward ones of Glickenhaus. At least in the initial configuration, the rearview mirrors are not incorporated into the wheel arches, but are detached from them with a body of their own. At the rear, the striking stabilizer fin stands out, which flows into the rear wing with two elements.
Overall, the first LMDh to take to the track recalls the previous LMP1 and DPi prototypes. The main features of the project are jealously guarded by Porsche technicians and it is reasonable to expect several changes on the car during the tests in the coming months. However, in a technical regulation in which aerodynamic and engine performance are strongly constrained, the solutions of the suspension group will make the most difference, on which the use of the tires and the overall balance will depend. Even more decisive will be all the part connected to the procedural aspect on the track, from the accessibility to the vehicle for trim adjustments to the speed of repairs, obviously without neglecting reliability. Equally decisive will be the understanding of the car and the ability to decide upon arrangements to exploit its maximum potential. With this in mind, the great advance with which Porsche has begun testing compared to its race debut at Daytona in 2023 places the historic German manufacturer in a promising position in view of his return to the premier class.
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