SPORT

Porsche Reveals New 919 Hybrid Car For Le Mans And WEC (PHOTOS)

04/03/2014 16:17 GMT | Updated 05/03/2014 12:59 GMT

Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber has helped Porsche unveil its first top-flight endurance car in 16 years which they hope will lead to Le Mans and World Endurance Championship success.

As well as presenting the 919 Hybrid car in its full livery, the German manufacturer used the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show to announce its biggest ever factory motorsport programme.

mark webber porsche

Mark Webber (r) will race for the first time with Porsche at Silverstone in April

Describing the 919 as "the most complex race car that Porsche has ever built," Porsche's chairman, Matthias Müller, said: "Crucial in the development of the Le Mans prototype were the newly created and revolutionary racing rules for this class as they relate to energy efficiency.

"In 2014, it will not be the fastest car that wins the World Endurance Championship series and the 24 hours of Le Mans, rather it will be the car that goes the furthest with a defined amount of energy. And it is precisely this challenge that carmakers must overcome."

Webber will be joined in the #20 car by Le Mans winner, Timo Bernhard, and Brendon Hartley while another Le Mans winner Romain Dumas, will compete in the #14 car alongside Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Webber, who joined Porsche this year after more than a decade in F1, returns to endurance racing for the first time since 1999.

"Porsche is kicking off 2014 with the most extensive motorsport programme in the company's history," said Head of motorsport Hartmut Kristen.

Porsche reveal 919 hybrid

"We have a total of 20 factory drivers now. Along with the factory teams in the WEC, there are two more factory 911 race cars that are being used by the Porsche Cars North America team in the new Tudor United Sports Car Championship series."

More than 200 employees at Porsche developed the Le Mans prototypes at the development centre in Weissach, led by Friedrich Enzinger, who stressed the first year of competition was all about finishing rather than winning.

"Within two and one half years we built the infrastructure, assembled our team and put this highly complex race car on wheels," Enzinger said.

"We have the greatest respect for the lead our competitors have in racing experience. Our objective in the first year is simple: to finish races and be competitive."

Many observers will be expecting to see more than that from one of endurance racing's most famous marques.

The first race in the WEC is the Silverstone 6 Hours on 20 April.