As was sadly expected, on Friday Porsche confirmed its plans to end the all-conquering 919 Hybrid LMP1 racing program at the end of 2017. Like Audi before it, the German brand is going to refocus its energy on Formula E, entering the fray in season six, which starts in 2019. That’s a boost for the all-electric racing series, which is also adding Mercedes-Benz to the grid for season six, but it’s a huge blow for the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Just two years ago, the uppermost echelon of endurance racing was at a zenith with the 1,000-hp hybrids from Audi, Toyota, and Porsche duking it out in thrilling races around the world. But Audi ended its Le Mans participation at the end of 2016, no thanks to dieselgate. With Porsche gone from the end of this year, one has to question whether Toyota will stand by an earlier commitment to keep its own hybrid prototype program running until 2019. (Porsche will still keep racing the 911 RSR in WEC’s GTE-Pro and IMSA’s GTLM classes.)