The top class at Le Mans and the broader FIA World Endurance Championship could be left without competitors if the latest reports are any indication.
According to Autosport, Porsche is currently debating internally whether it will extend its LMP1 program beyond 2018. It reportedly expects to arrive at a conclusion, one way or another, by the end of this month.
The German manufacturer returned to Le Mans with the 919 Hybrid in 2014, and has since racked up some impressive results. It’s won the 24-hour race in Western France three times over the past four seasons, and taken the championship twice. It’s been so successful, you might argue, that it effectively pushed its sister company Audi out of the sport. And now it could be preparing to follow suit.
If it does pull out, that would leave Toyota to compete only against itself, which could prompt the Japanese automaker to pull out as well. That is, at least, until the new rules take effect in 2020, which could bring more manufacturers into the LMP1 class. In the meantime, though, we could see privateer teams in conventionally powered LMP1 prototypes battling the few approved LMP2 chassis for outright victory in both the championship and its headline race.
Just what Porsche would do instead is another question entirely. It could follow Audi (not to mention Mercedes and BMW) into Formula E, or embark on a works F1 entry. Or it could simply close up shop for the time being and focus on selling road and race cars to private customers.