It is a hybrid, but it sure sounds fantastic.
We'll be honest, the 24 Hours of Le Mans hasn't been as exciting since so many brands pulled out of the top prototype class, leaving Toyota to dominate five years in a row. But 2023 marks the 100th running of Le Mans, and it will be different with the new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) regulations kicking in. These FIA regulations leave a lot open to interpretation, meaning various automakers can take wildly different approaches to generate 680 horsepower (so long as they use a hybrid system). It also means that for the first time in years, there's going to be fierce competition for first place in class and overall.
Porsche unveiled its entrant to the series, the 963 LMDh, at the Goodwood Hill Climb in the UK. The car wasn't trying to set any records on its public debut, but it still looked blisteringly fast. With testing now underway to prepare for the IMSA GTP and WEC Hypercar classes, a new video has emerged of the 963 testing at the Sebring Raceway in Florida.
The prototype car shown here is wearing a simple all-black paint with a few white Porsche and Penske logos on the body and windshield. Obviously, the final race car will wear a more interesting livery. We kind of like the blacked-out version though, as it makes the 963 looks like a shadow streaking across the screen. This car laps Sebring like a missile (even with a broken door hanging open), thanks to its 4.6-liter twin-turbo 918 Spyder-derived V8 paired with a hybrid system.
With no road-legal noise regulations to follow, Porsche felt free to make the 963 deafeningly loud. We can tell the suspension is extremely stiff as it bounces over Sebring's famously bumpy tarmac, still keeping its composure thanks to the tremendous downforce.
Though there won't be a street legal version, race teams can purchase a 963 for $2.9 million. In other words, you could buy 28 examples of the 2022 Porsche 911 Carrera for the price of one 963. Porsche's LMDh looks like a serious competitor, but it's too soon to tell how it still stack up against the competition from Acura, Cadillac, Glickenhaus, Ferrari, Peugeot, and Toyota. For the first time in a long time, we are genuinely excited to watch Le Mans centenary celebrations and racing action.