Porsche Penske Motorsport feels “prepared” for the competition debut of the Porsche 963 despite some “variables” that remain out of its control heading into the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The German manufacturer is embarking on the start of a new era of top-level prototype racing alongside fellow LMDh brands Acura, BMW and Cadillac in the first race for the new global prototype platform.
While not having been the fastest of the GTP class entries at the Roar or in official practice this week, drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell are quietly confident in their race potential.
“We haven’t had many issues on the cars, which is positive going into the race,” Jaminet told Sportscar365.
“Nobody was really sure coming into the weekend how the car is going to be running.
“We’ve seen pretty much every session everybody is out there testing things. We want to see all cars racing for the win.
“But it’s a long race. I’d be surprised if the nine cars arrive into the last two hours and everybody is on the lead lap. From our side, we feel prepared. I believe we should be alright.”
Campbell added: “The feeling going into the Rolex hasn’t really evolved, but the focus has changed a lot.
“There are a lot more in-depth meetings on systems and ways we can improve the car.
“For sure, a lot of changes in that sense is a big difference. I’ve enjoyed that, because you’re working with engineers and finding ways to get around systems and adapt.”
The No. 7 Porsche of Campbell, Felipe Nasr and Michael Christensen will start from the outside front row, while the No. 6 entry set to bring up the rear of the nine-car field after Nick Tandy suffered a crash in qualifying.
Porsche Penske managing director Jonathan Diuguid confirmed the team has received additional spares from Germany since the accident so they are “not negatively impacted” for the race.
“We’ve got the 7 car starting up in the front of the field and the 6 car starting in the back,” Diuguid told Sportscar365.
“I don’t think we’re going to be in any hurry to get up to the front but we want to be running on the lead lap with the lead cars there.
“We’ll take a methodical approach with the 6 car to get up there but I don’t think the approach is going to be drastically different between the two.”
Diuguid said the ‘unknown’ going into the twice-around-the-clock enduro is reliability for all GTP entrants.
“I think we’re in the same spot with reliability and where we’re going to be,” he said. “I think everyone’s going in with the same unknowns that we have as well. We’ll just see where it ends up.
“Our confidence is only what we know. Every time we run the cars we experience something different and each track has different characteristics. We’re all learning together.
“I’d be surprised if you asked any GTP manufacturer if they’re confident and they said, ‘Yep, we don’t have zero concerns.’ We’re not there yet either.”
Laudenbach: “Nobody” Wants Race Decided by Durability of Spec Parts
While hopeful of having a trouble-free run, Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach admitted the reliability of some components are out of their hands, such as the spec hybrid system.
“To be fair, it would be great if we were a bit more mature,” he told Sportscar365. “On the other side we’ve proven that the parts can stand the whole distance with our endurance runs and also other brands.
“Yes there are still, from time to time, some issues. But that’s a situation on how we go into the 24 hours.
“I think there’s still some room for improvement for the future.
“But I hope it will be trouble-free because the worst thing that can happen is that such an important race is decided by the durability of a spec part. That’s something that nobody wants.”
Laudenbach noted a difference in spec parts and components from third-party companies, which would be produced and developed directly with the OEM.
“It’s a bit different if you have parts, even if you buy them from a manufacturer, but you develop them together with them, where basically you are in the lead of the development,” he explained.
“Even if you work with partners, it would be in your hands.
“This is a bit different with spec parts. It’s a different situation.
“Right now the only thing we can do is really look precisely at the data, working closely with the manufacturers of the parts and hopefully having the right parts on the car.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report