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Porsche Returns to the Top Division of the Le Mans in 2014

Black-Porsche-Le-Mans-1024x640           The first 24-hour long Le Mans race took place in 1923, on the public roads around the city of Le Mans in France. Today it takes place on as modern a racetrack as any other and is known as the Grand Prix of endurance racing. The winner gets bragging rights to claim superiority over all other drivers and automakers. The last American to win was Davy Jones in 1996, he drove the Joest Porsche WSC95 to victory for the Porsche race team. After winning the race he said a victory at Le Mans to a racecar driver and automaker was the same as winning the World Series to a baseball player and team. Porsche currently holds the record for most victories at Le Mans with 16. Claiming its first win in 1970 with the Porsche 917K and its most recent in 1998 with the iconic 911 GT-1 98. Porsche’s involvement in top tier racing is stuff of legends. One could expect to see the pictures of the winning cars in racing museums and Porsche dealerships alike.

Dynasties have dominated the Le Mans from the start. Bentley won 5 of the first 8 races at Le Mans until 1931 when Alfa Romeo took the crown by winning four straight races with the 8C-2300. The Bugatti T57C looked to take over and form its own dynasty by winning 2 of the 4 races leading up to 1940. However, in 1940 the race was postponed until 1948 due to WWII. Ferrari, Ford and Jaguar dominated the post-war era up until 1970 winning 9,5 and 4 races respectively.

In 1970 Porsche won its first Le Mans title and began its reign as king of the 24-hours of the Le Mans and the endurance-racing world. From 1970 to 1998 a team driving a Porsche won the prestigious and grueling race 16 different times including seven consecutive wins from 1981 to 1987. The most recent winning Porsche is the 911 GT-1. Porsche of Tucson carries the modern, street legal version of this iconic vehicle: the 2013 911 Carrera and Carrera 4S. They also have one of the largest selections of new and used Porsches of all the Porsche dealers in Tucson.

Recently, Audi (Porsche and Audi are both owned by the parent company, Volkswagen) has dominated the Le Mans. Audi has won every Le Mans since 2000 with the exception of Bentley’s win in 2003 and Peugot’s in 2009.  That is in part because of Porsches hiatus from top tier Le Mans racing. Porsche has been testing hybrids and other cars in lower divisions of the Le Mans race but has not raced in the Le Mans Prototype 1 (the fastest, top tier) division since Audi before began its reign. Due to Porsches temporary exit from the LMP1 division, Audi and Porsche have never gone toe-to-toe at Le Mans.

Porsche announced that their absence from the premier race will end in 2014. They plan to enter in the Le Mans Prototype 1 race and are reportedly spending eight-figures to build the best vehicle ever to ever compete in the race. Porsche plans to take on Audi’s best car and come out a winner. While it is not known for sure which car Porsche will enter, it is reported that Porsche will not make it available to the public and it will probably have some form of hybrid technology.

The 2014 Le Mans will be one for the history books and will surely provided a glimpse of what the next decade of racing will look like. This is like Phil Jackson coming out of retirement and taking a team to the NBA finals to challenge a team that had won 8 of the last 9 championships. It is a daunting task but if anything can end Audi’s domination of the Le Mans… it’s a Porsche.

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