Porsche may have just come back to Le Mans and the WEC championship in 2014, but it looks like the German automaker will pull out of the series at the end of the 2017 WEC season. According to Sportscar365, Porsche will shift focus from the successful 919 Hybrid program to focus on developing an entrant to the burgeoning Formula E series.
Looking at the current top-tier LMP1 class, it starts to make sense. The departure of Audi last year left just Porsche and Toyota as full manufacturer teams, and it's looking unlikely that any privateer entrant is willing to step up thanks to the massive cost of entry. Even Porsche is reportedly having a hard time swallowing the estimated $200 million lump each full season, according to the report.
When Porsche withdraws, just Toyota will remain in the hybrid LMP1 class, competing against the non-hybridized ByKolles Racing LMP1. It's not looking good for Toyota fans who are hoping for a Toyota-only field. The World Championship requires at least three registered manufacturers.
Despite the winning record of the 919 Hybrid program, whichearned three consecutive victories at Le Mans, it looks like Porsche is settling its sights on Formula E. The electric open-wheeled series is massively cheaper than a full-bore LMP1 WEC program and may align closer to what automakers see is the future of their respective road cars.
Porsche confirmed the news in a statement today. "This realignment of motorsport activities for Porsche stems from the direction set out for the company in Porsche Strategy 2025, which will see Porsche develop a combination of pure GT vehicles and fully electric sports cars," the automaker said.
Following Audi's departure from WEC for Formula E last year, high-end automakers have dipped their foot in the Formula E pool, including Jaguar and BMW. Mercedes-Benz just announced its surprise departure from DTM for the eco-friendly series, now running in-tandem with its Formula 1 efforts.