Porsche Penske Motorsport “learned a lot of lessons” following a challenging debut race for the program according to Porsche LMDh factory motorsport director Urs Kuratle.
The German-American factory squad encountered issues for both of its Porsche 963s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, with the No. 6 entry of Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet and Dane Cameron ultimately retiring due to gearbox failure.
Porsche Penske’s No. 7 car, driven by Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell and Michael Christensen, meanwhile, finished 14th overall and seventh in the GTP class after losing time due to a battery change and a broken water pipe.
Speaking to reporters immediately following the race, Kuratle said they were still investigating the “root cause” of the gearbox issue that befell the No. 6 car, which was in contention for the win until losing three laps in the 16th hour after a spin by Tandy that damaged the car’s front splitter and rear diffuser.
“We definitely learned a lot of lessons here,” Kuratle said of the race as a whole. “There were a lot of firsts, issues we never had before and saw for the first time on the car even though we did 30,000 kilometers before the actual race. There is a lot to analyze.”
While Acura scored a 1-2 result with its factory Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport squads, Kuratle said it would have been “interesting” to have seen the Porsches potentially take the fight to the ARX-06s in the end had they not run into issues.
“The Acura was a tick faster than we were but we sure had quite competitive pace at the end,” he said. “It would have been an interesting race.
“Acura was probably the fastest one and then it [was] us, Cadillac and BMW but again, that’s something that we have to analyze in detail, how the tire usage [was], who was on which tires, how many laps were they on, did they changed two or four tires before that and so on.
“It’s a lot to analyze.. [Acura] did a tremendous job, they won the race with two cars, not having big problems.”
Kuratle said there will be “a lot of debriefs” as the cars arrive back at the Porsche Penske North American headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., and indicated that even its test plan could be altered based on last weekend’s results.
Porsche Penske managing director Jonathan Diuguid confirmed to Sportscar365 pre-race that both cars are due to take part in the IMSA-sanctioned test at Sebring International Raceway in mid-February.
Additional testing opportunities are understood to now being explored.
“The test plan is always moving,” Kuratle said. “That’s one thing we also have to think about carefully, how we maybe reschedule our test plan after this event.
“It was also something that was kept in consideration already, that we’d finalize the test plan once we know the race result, not that we expected it to be a bad race result.
But it’s always nice to keep your doors open.
“There will be a couple of days testing anyways. But whether it’s four or six, I don’t know.”
When asked how Porsche will recover at the next round at Sebring, which will also mark the debut of its FIA World Endurance Championship program, Kuratle said he’s hopeful of improved fortunes.
“We will learn quick and we will have answers and results from all the issues we had,” he said.
“Whether the race result will look different or not? I hope so. We’ll do everything [so] it looks different, I can promise you.”