Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Daniel Armbruster says Daytona will see “all hands on deck” in the debuts of two different Porsche-built race cars on the same weekend.
The German manufacturer gives the all-new Porsche 911 GT3 R its first formal race outing in the 57th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona, while the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport makes its competition debut in Friday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
It presents a unique challenge for Porsche, which has allocated additional resources to its customer teams in both paddocks this weekend.
A total of four GT3-spec Porsches are set to do battle in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, with entries from Park Place Motorsports, Pfaff Motorsports, Black Swan Racing and NGT Racing in the GT Daytona class.
Park Place, as well as TRG, BGB Motorsports, RS1, AWA, Bodymotion and nolasport, meanwhile, will field 2019-spec models of the Porsche GT4, was launched at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 earlier this month.
According to Armbruster, Daytona has been circled as a key event for Porsche globally, as the manufacturer rolls out its latest offerings for the customer racing market.
“It was one of our targets because last year we didn’t really have any new products,” Armbruster told Sportscar365. “That was really tough.
“Right now we’re in a really lucky situation with the [new] GT3 R and GT4.”
With Park Place being the only team with prior on-track experience with the GT3 car, the Roar provided the first opportunity for the majority of Porsche’s customer teams to come to grips with the new-for-2019 models.
The Roar also saw a large presence of Porsche personnel, with support from Porsche Motorsport, PMNA as well as from the production side for its first large-scale customer rollout.
A similar presence is expected this weekend to support the 12 new cars competing.
“Daytona is the first race of the year and we had lots of colleagues from Germany, from the R&D department, the project manager in Wolfsburg was there,” Armbruster said.
“We’ve had all hands on deck for the Roar test and also for the 24-hour race.
“The support from Germany and PMNA also has engineers and support guys at the race track so we can support the teams with the new car.”
Armbruster said the customer support programs, headed up by Sebastian Golz (GT3) and Matthias Scholz (GT4) are running independent of each other, with no cross-over.
A minimum of five engineers per project will be present.
“My guys [at PMNA] also had a very intensive training program in Germany so we are also up to speed with the new technologies,” Armbruster said.
With the GT3 car having already completed multiple endurance races in Europe during the second half of 2018 as part of its development process, Armbruster is confident in the car’s reliability.
It was the first race car to go through Porsche’s new extensive test procedure, which Armbruster, in his former role as quality manager of motorsport, had implemented.
“We did our homework and everything that could be done,” he said. “So we’re really perfectly prepared with the cars, but also with our teams.
“But especially for a 24-hour race, you need a tiny piece of luck.
“Of course we want to win; everyone who is starting a race wants to win. That’s the goal for sure.”
Porsche Courting Additional GT3 Customers
While its initial allocation of new GT4 cars are believed to have been already accounted for, Armbruster said he’s hopeful that a strong result in the Rolex 24 could help sell additional 911 GT3 Rs for the North American market.
It’s understood at least three teams will campaign the car in the newly named Blancpain GT World Challenge America this year, while Porsche is also in talks for potential efforts in the new WeatherTech Sprint Cup.
“We are working on additional programs,” Armbruster said. “There is a demand. The Rolex 24 is for sure also important for us to sell cars in the [U.S.] sprint series.
“The best sales point is being competitive in the race, showing good performance, good quality and reliability.
“We want to prove that so we can hopefully find a lot of [Porsches] at the race track for the next years.”