Porsche customers competing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will be among the first teams to take delivery of the new-for-2016 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which is set to make its race debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“Everybody in Weissach is working towards that goal,” Porsche Motorsport North America President Jens Walther told Sportscar365 during the car’s launch last weekend at the Nürburgring.
“The entire development process has had to be in a shorter span of time because the European season doesn’t start until March and we have to deliver the cars to the customers in early December to make sure they can prepare everything and go to Daytona and test.”
The new GT3 contender, featuring many elements carried over from Porsche’s race-winning 911 RSR GTE car, not only replaces the 997-based GT3 R on a global scale but also the IMSA-specific 911 GT America, which was built to the original GT Daytona class regulations.
With the TUDOR Championship fully embracing GT3 cars beginning next year, it allows Porsche to offer the same car for both major North American championships, something that Walther has praised.
“It helps all of us,” he said. “It helps the development. It helps the logistics behind it, for spare parts and homologation of parts. It also helps our customers because they can use the same equipment and go to different race series.
“Also if they want to sell a car after a year and upgrade into a new one, there’s a market for the car in a different series. The platform is now used in more series internationally.
“Back a couple of years ago, we saw a lot of European and Asian teams come to Daytona and Sebring. This car allows us something like this. We have the world coming to the U.S. and joining us to race.”
Walther said he expects full-season TUDOR Championship teams to have priority in taking delivery of the new 911 GT3 R, which has already seen a good amount of early interest from both new and existing customers.
“Traditionally, we’re one of the stronger manufacturers on the Daytona grid,” Walther said. “We have quite a lot of interest from U.S. teams in the car.
“We had a customer presentation [last weekend] where we had some U.S. customers who joined us. We’re all pretty excited about it and hopefully we’ll have a good number of cars in Daytona.”
As for the prospects of an IMSA-sanctioned GT3 sprint race championship being launched for next year, Walther admitted he’s not sure there’s a large enough market for two similar GT3-based series in North America.
“I think IMSA has a long tradition in endurance racing and all of the teams featuring cars in IMSA have built endurance programs,” he said. “Their entire team is built around endurance racing.
“With Pirelli World Challenge, we already have sprint series. We have both products already established and I don’t know what the benefit would be for another sprint series, to be honest.”