As you’re well aware, Porsche no longer contests the Le Mans Prototype 1 class in the World Endurance Championship. The LMP1 will be replaced by the Le Mans Hypercar class for the 2020-2021 superseason, and Toyota is one of the works teams that plans to dominate on the racetrack with the GR Super Sport Concept-based racecar.
Aston Martin, Peugeot, and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus also need to be mentioned, and also worthy of highlighting, the 2020-2021 superseason has been delayed over the worldwide crisis that turned social distancing and self-isolation into routines.
But what about Porsche? The German automaker hasn’t announced any plans of returning to the FIA World Endurance Championship, nor does it have a hypercar-class model in the lineup. Given this information, take a look at the car in the photo gallery.
Porsche has filed two design patents with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, one showcasing the car with the rear wing raised and the other with the rear wing down. The proportions and styling are obviously inspired by the 917 Concept and Le Mans Hypercar class regulations, but there’s another detail that boggles the mind.
A fuel filler cap on the left-hand side and a charging port on the right indicate a plug-in hybrid powertrain inspired by the 918 Spyder, and that’s not allowed by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile and Automobile Club de l’Ouest. The design patents also reveal a one-seat cabin as well as a fire extinguisher at the driver’s knee, leading us to believe that Porsche works on some kind on the race-ready specification of a homologation special.
This gets us to the 918 Spyder’s successor, and chances are we’re not looking at it. From a visual standpoint, this fellow here has more things in common with the 917 Concept than the 918 Spyder. The more likely outcome for these design patents is the 960 mid-engined land missile that we’ve been hearing for ages now, confirmed by Porsche’s former CEO way back in 2012.
Porsche was granted the 960 trademark in September 2015, and thus far, the rumor mill has been more active than the German automaker in terms of details. Some say it’s going to pack a boxer-eight engine though such an arrangement seems unlikely. Having electrified the Taycan and with the imminent hybridization of the 911 sports car, the 960 – if it will ever happen – should be either hybrid of plug-in hybrid as the design patents suggest.
Initially rumored to premiere by the end of 2020, the 960 has been delayed by heaven knows how many years over the Dieselgate scandal and the crisis we’re currently facing. Having said that, what else is there to know?
The design patents – namely 001472120-0001 and 001472120-0002 as the’re called by the EUIPO – were both filed on May 5th, 2019 and registered on April 14th, 2020. The timing leads to believe that Porsche is preparing to offer a little more information into the mystery model by the end of the year.
Here’s hope the real deal will hit dealers – and the track – as soon as 2021.