It’s been quite a start to Porsche’s first factory North American GT program, as its new 911 RSR claimed a debut victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Nearly six weeks later, the CORE autosport-run operation embarks on the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, while Porsche also debuts its first-ever customer 911 RSR for Team Falken Tire, while rolling out with updates to its 911 GT America in GTD.
Sportscar365 caught up with Porsche Motorsport North America President Jens Walther to gain insight into all three levels of the manufacturer’s involvement in the TUDOR Championship, heading into today’s race.
Having won the Rolex 24 and now winning the GTLM pole on Friday, is there a lot of momentum heading into the race?
“We had a very strong start. with a lot of luck. We also know that we still have a lot to do on single things.
“We do continuous improvement as a team. We’re young. We just joined the series and the team growing together.
“There’s still some way to go but we try to take this challenge every single weekend. Daytona was good but we start new here.”
Was it a big challenge in launching the GTLM team at Daytona?
“I think it was a massive undertaking to get the team up and running. There’s different cultures. There’s the German culture in Weissach, there’s an American culture, then you try to manage from the west coast, which is nine hours away from Germany and three hours away from where the team is based.
“It is a logistical challenge but it was one we had a lot of fun with. Owen Hayes our director of operations, who was head of the Penske team, RS Spyder, times, move to grow the different cultures and corporate cultures together.”
Does the CORE-run Porsche North America team work or interact with Team Falken Tire in any way?
“I think what we do with Falken… it’s hard to share data with different tires and completely different car. Whatever we learn in terms of improving the car, small nuances, we share.
“PNA supports Falken with a full-time engineer sitting with the team during the sessions. We want to make sure they can excel to their best.”
What are your thoughts on the recent Balance of Performance changes in GTD?
“The GT Daytona category is still a bit of uncertainty for us. From Daytona and looked at the times, the balance within the group has not really been there.
“We’re very happy IMSA took this on board and diligently looked at all the data to come up with the performance adjustment and see for different areas.
“We’ll see where we are but with our partners in industry, able to get all our parts in last-minute, get them into go out.”
You announced on Thursday an expanded partnership with Hertz, which will now include sponsorship in the factory GTLM cars. How important is this for the brand?
“Hertz has been a partner of Porsche teams and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge for two years already. So there was a partnership.
“Also on the rental side, we have had a partnership for two years where Hertz was buying cars to rent in dream car collection.
“It’s a progression of the partnership; we talked about it long before Daytona. But we were only able to announce it here because it takes a while for big companies to get it into a contract and get into the synergies of a partnership.”