Felipe Nasr says that his GT3 debut with Porsche in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup is “all part of the project” with the manufacturer ahead of his 2023 LMDh drive.
Nasr has been assigned to Pfaff Motorsports in the GTD Pro class for the long-distance WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
The reigning DPi champion will share the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R with full-season drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, forming an all-factory lineup.
Nasr explained that his GT3 debut forms an important element of his integration within the Porsche Motorsport structure after four years with Action Express Racing in DPi.
The Endurance Cup campaign is the Brazilian’s only confirmed Porsche race drive for 2022, with his other role being a ride in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 class with Porsche LMDh factory program operator Team Penske.
“First of all, I think it’s a great opportunity to be joining the Porsche Motorsport family, looking at the bigger picture,” Nasr told Sportscar365.
“This is all part of the project, getting to know Matt and Jaminet, who are two very experienced guys.
“Having the time to build up within the environment, this is all part of the deal. I feel the GT3 is going to be a new challenge for me. It’s all new. There is a learning phase there that I’ve got to take.
“[Daytona] is my first experience of the car, but I’m very much looking forward to it, especially being on board with the Pfaff team who have been the GTD champions last year.
“They’ve got a lot of experience and things to pass on. It’s going to be completely new. It’s a great opportunity and I’m very excited about this whole project, that is all leading towards LMDh in the years to come. It’s all pretty exciting.”
Nasr will have the rare opportunity to be a category rookie when he tackles the Daytona season-opener, and he suggested that he is approaching GTD Pro with “an open mind.”
His first miles in the Porsche came during Friday’s second Roar session, during which he logged 15 laps and posted a best time of 1:47.501.
Nasr has technically raced a GT car before, making a handful of single-make Porsche GT3 Cup Brazil appearances in 2017 straight after his final season in Formula 1.
“Looking back and having accomplished the goals in DPi, being able to win two championships, that makes me very happy,” he said.
“Taking on this new challenge in GTD Pro is going to be completely new, but I’m here for the challenge: the new experience, new learning phase, new driving style, new tires. It’s all going to be new to me.
“I’m coming in with an open mind. The good thing is that I have two guys who are very experienced in the car and can help me a lot on this learning phase.
“Jumping in a car, if it’s not fighting for a win, I wouldn’t do it. All of the ingredients are there and I’m ready to take it on.”
Asked if he envisages doing any other major GT3 races outside his four-race IMSA program, Nasr responded: “That I don’t know.
“I can say I will be very busy this year with the LMDh development, and the WEC program with Team Penske, plus the four endurance races here already. I’ll have my plate full!
“The good thing is that I’m keeping myself sharp. I’m driving a race car here with Pfaff, and with Team Penske in WEC. It’s not like I’m missing being at the racetrack.
“It’s all part of the package and I’m very keen on being successful in those as well.”
Penske LMP2 Effort “Super Important” for LMDh
Nasr will team up with fellow LMDh driver Dane Cameron and Le Mans veteran Emmanuel Collard for Penske’s maiden WEC effort with an Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car.
The project is a precursor to Penske’s entry into the Hypercar class next year with the Porsche LMDh prototype that has been developed in collaboration with Multimatic.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” said Nasr. “Team Penske: what a great organization. I had my first chance to work with them a few days ago [at Sebring], preparing for the WEC season and understanding the LMP2 car with them.
“All that experience is going to be super important, getting the crew and the team used to the rules and sporting regulations, understanding the tracks. This is all part of the bigger picture.
“I’ve done Le Mans a few times and the WEC series is also something that is in my mind for the years to come, since the project will be taking on both.
“At this stage I don’t know what’s going to happen [next year], whichever [series] I’m going to be driving.
“But I like both. I’ve always been a huge fan of the IMSA stuff; the dynamics of the races and the tracks we go to. It’s a super fun series and for sure I want to spend more time here.”