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Porsche Motorsport Still Considering LMDh Class for Le Mans After Saying No to Hypercar Class

The postponement of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is just one motorsports institution affected by the pandemic.

Todd LassaWriterGetty ImagesPhotographer

Porsche Motorsport is fine with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's cancellation of Test Day when the 24 Hours of Le Mans finally is held in September, but it's not ready to commit to racing in the new LMDh class for the 2021-22 season. Those minor revelations come courtesy of Porsche Motorsport chief Pascal Zurlinden, who on March 30 gave the first of what he promised will be frequent over-the-phone press conferences in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the automotive world to a halt, along with most of the rest of the world's businesses.

When asked whether the 2020 FIA World Endurance Championship season should be reduced, Zurlinden replied; "It depends on where we will be able to get back to racing, or when."

In the meantime, the Porsche Motorsport boss said, "our e-sports racing drivers are competing with our works drivers," he said, referring to the virtual races that are filling air time on sports networks, such as last weekend's Le Mans e-sport Series virtual race at Sebring. Formula 1, NASCAR, and IndyCar drivers have also been racing virtually in a bid to fill the void left by the cancelation of real on-track action.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, typically scheduled for mid-June every year, is presently delayed to September 19-20, with practice and qualifying to begin on September 16. The challenge is that competitors will have to react quickly to different weather and track-temperature conditions in September versus June.

"But we are looking forward to this challenge," Zurlinden said.

The new LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) class would compete with the Le Mans Hypercar class for the overall win in the WEC series. Porsche last year evaluated the new Hypercar class but found it too expensive, according to the Porsche Motorsport honcho. The LMDh class, however, is the ACO's adoption of the International Motor Sport Association's (IMSA) Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class now campaigned by three brands, Cadillac, Acura, and Mazda.

Asked about the fate of the Porsche Supercup support series, "We are completely dependent on the Formula 1 schedule," Zurlinden said. The first scheduled race, yet to be delayed, is the Canadian Grand Prix set for June 12-14, followed by France on June 26-28.

Along with various other series and their own races, F1 Grands Prix in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, The Netherlands, and Spain have been postponed, while the Grand Prix of Monaco has already been canceled outright this year.