While still in the initial phase with the car, Park Place Motorsports director of operations Mike Johnson says they’ve been pleased with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, admitting it’s a “big step” forward from its predecessor.
Park Place became the first U.S.-based team to take delivery of the 2019-spec Porsche, just days prior to Tuesday’s Michelin On-Track Opportunity at Daytona International Speedway, which resulted in a late scramble to get the car fully prepped and on track.
“We got the car probably two days too early but it’s been good,” Johnson told Sportscar365.
“When you have two days to get a car together for a test, it’s a lot to do, especially when you don’t know it. If it was our old car, we’d be pushing it out of the truck [and onto the track].”
While completing only a limited number of laps in the evening session with Porsche factory driver Dirk Werner behind the wheel, Johnson said progress was made in a number of key areas.
Despite carrying the same nameplate as the previous-generation model, the new Porsche features a number of significant updates, with an extreme level of attention to detail taken, according to the veteran race strategist and team manager.
“Every car is a big step forward it’s just you’ve gotta figure it out,” Johnson said.
“When you look at it, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m used to this kind of suspension and now it has that kind of suspension.’ How you bump steer the car previously is different than how you do this one. The fueling system is also different in the side fill.
“There’s just so much more detail. They even built a place for the number panel to go in the rear window, which nobody else does.”
Werner and the team’s newly announced Michelin Endurance Cup driver Nick Boulle were present at the track day, with full-season drivers Patrick Lindsey and factory ace Patrick Long expected to turn laps in next month’s Roar Before the Rolex 24.
Its fourth driver for the Rolex 24 has yet to be announced.
Johnson, who has taken an increased role with the team including spearheading its new customer program, is bullish on the season ahead in the GT Daytona class, which is expected to feature more than a dozen full-season entries.
In addition to changes behind the wheel, the team has undergone a shakeup on the pit box as well, with Jim Kasperzak now engineering the car following the departure of John Horton to Moorespeed.
“I think we have as good a shot as anybody else to win races and the championship,” Johnson said. “We’ve got all the right pieces. This new car is going to be super fast. We’ve got the two Patrick’s, where I think that’s a super-strong lineup.
“We’ve got a lot of great Porsche experience with our crew. At this point, we’ve got all the right pieces, we just have to go out and execute on game day.”