Roger Penske not worried as Porsche Penske Motorsport tries to recover at Sebring

Sebring a key step towards Le Mans for Penske, PorscheIMSA Photo

  • Porsche Penske Motorsport is looking to gain speed with its Porsche 963 while solving technical issues encountered during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

  • Dane Cameron, who drove at Daytona and will be a regular at the WEC, is confident the team will be able to find the speed they need.

  • One man who isn’t worried is ‘The Captain’, Roger Penske, who said Sebring would be another opportunity to build momentum.

Sebring is tough enough for teams competing on the old, rough concrete tracks of the former Air Force base. For Porsche Penske Motorsport, the upcoming World Endurance Championship 1,000-mile race and IMSA’s Twelve Hours of Sebring will be an inflection point.

The team is looking to gain speed with their Porsche 963 while solving technical problems suffered during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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Roger Penske is looking. win at Le Mans in 2023.IMSA Photo

If that wasn’t enough, delivery of new chassis to three privateer teams is scheduled for late April ahead of Le Mans in June, where Porsche Penske Motorsport intends to enter three Porsche 963s for the centenary of the 24-hour race.

One man who isn’t worried is ‘The Captain’, Roger Penske, who said Sebring would be another opportunity to build momentum. Although he is the busiest man in motor racing, including his ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and teams at NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and WEC, in addition to the 70,000 employees of Penske Corporation, Penske is regularly in contact with his lieutenants at Porsche Penske Motorsport. .

“While the results (at Daytona) weren’t what we were hoping for,” Penske told Autoweek. “Our cars had good pace throughout and we learned some valuable lessons.

Penske’s team won the overall Sebring 12 Hours in 2008 with the LMP2 class Porsche RS Spyder. Then he started talking about a long-time goal of going to Le Mans with Porsche. A decade and a half later, it has become a reality.

Penske said the division of labor will be an important factor for success at Le Mans.

“As Porsche continues to build the customer program, our teams will work hard to ensure we are prepared and ready to compete on the biggest sports car racing stage,” Penske said.

Although rarely present, Penske’s unflappable optimism is palpable within the sports car team. Dane Cameron, who drove at Daytona and will be a regular at the WEC, is confident the team will be able to find the speed they need.

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Dane Cameron is doing double duty at Sebring this weekend.IMSA Photo

“It just takes a bit of time to get these things through,” said Cameron, who will drive both races at Sebring. “We have a clear direction and we’re making progress with the car all the time. Were we where we wanted to be at Daytona? Probably not. But I think with the partners we have, the path forward is clear. We we’re all pretty confident.

The official WEC Prologue test at Sebring before the season opener was the first opportunity to see how well the LMDh cars built by Porsche and Cadillac for competition in the IMSA GTP class would perform against Hypercars. of the WEC. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cadillac V-Series.R topped the lap with its LMDh chassis in the second session (1:48.429). Porsche was fifth behind the revised Cadillac and Toyota GR010 hybrids and one of the new Ferrari 499P Hypercars.

On day two, the two Porsche 963s climbed in order in the cooler morning temperatures, when the #5 car broke through the 1:48 second mark while running half a second behind the two Toyotas. All teams race according to the first balance of performance published by the WEC for the Sebring round, which will remain in place during the 1,000 mile race. These rules mainly focus on the combined weight and power of electric motors and conventional motors to achieve parity.

“Toyotas are obviously the benchmark,” said Jonathan Diuguid, managing director of the Porsche Penske team. “They’ve been on the show for the past two years. They’ve made a few updates, but have been relatively consistent over the past two years. It’s a competitive group and they had good pace and consistency on the long runs. The Ferrari Hypercar was also quite strong. But we had good pace and I feel like we’re in the game.

Given the 1,000 mile distance in Friday’s WEC race and Saturday’s 12 Hours, fixing the battery issue suffered at Daytona was a priority for the Porsche team. The team focused on the vibration issues and engine harmonics that are part of the 963’s architecture, but couldn’t find the root of what was wrong.

“It’s going to be the devil on our shoulders,” Diuguid said. “Let’s hope he doesn’t show his face (at Sebring).”

The gearbox issue that sidelined the No. 6 car late in the race at Daytona was replicated in partnership with supplier Xtrac and resolved, Diugiud said.

To date, Porsche is the only entrant in LMDh or Hypercar to offer customer cars. “It’s a steep hill to climb,” acknowledged LMDh motorsport director Urs Kuratle, who cited partnerships with Penske, automaker Multimatic and customer teams as important factors in meeting obligations. Getting customer cars into service is part of Porsche’s business plan, he said, and was “a premise” for Porsche’s participation in the new prototype program. “It just had to be done.”

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The #6 Porsche Penske finished eighth in class at the 24 Rolex.Sportswire Icon – Getty Images

In addition to supplying 963s to JDC-Miller Motorsports IMSA and WEC competitors Hertz Team JOTA and Proton Competition with 963s by the end of April, Porsche has entered three works cars for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June to improve his chances of winning. general victory.

Three cars at Le Mans plus a possible fourth JOTA entry will be a logistical challenge, Keratle said.

“We need to build an additional team and ship one of the IMSA cars to France and vice versa,” Keratle said. “On top of that, due to continued supply bottlenecks for some assemblies, parts supply might not be perfect. We want to do our best and shine on the brand’s 75th anniversary. Porsche and the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It’s never too late to dream big, as Penske, 86, can tell you.

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