The initial batch of type 992-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars have all already been pre-sold to customers intending to compete in the new Porsche Carrera Cup North America, in what has been considered an “incredible” amount of interest according to Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Dr. Daniel Armbruster.
Launched last month at Mid-Ohio, Porsche’s first-ever premier single-make series in North America will be featured on a number of IMSA weekends next year as part of an addition to the German manufacturer’s pyramid for driver and team development.
A total of 15 new cars have been allocated to the new-for-2021 series, which is scheduled to kick off at Sebring International Raceway in March.
Armbruster explained they didn’t know what to initially expect considering it’s ‘less than ideal’ timing of launching a new championship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The feedback has really been overwhelming for us,” he told Sportscar365. “We were really conservative based on the COVID situation. We don’t even know the impact on the economy right now.
“It’s still open for me. We have to wait until the winter time, if there is a second or third wave [of COVID-19 cases] and whether it will affect the economy. We are still really conservative just to be able execute next year.
“Even if the economy is a total disaster, we are expecting entries in the low 20s next year. But if everything remains the same — as everyone is back racing — then we are expecting high 20s.”
The additional target numbers take into account previous-generation 991.2-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, which will be eligible in both the Pro-Am and Rookie classes, with Pro reserved exclusively for the new model.
Series manager Brian Blocker explained that a possibility exists to have additional 992s for the launch season although is looking to also take a measured approach to its long-term growth.
“We’re focused on getting those initial 15 units into the series but with the demand being so high so early I think that’s given us an opportunity to work with our colleagues and see if we could come up with a couple of additional cars,” said Blocker.
“For sure we also want to make sure that the demand is still high going into 2022 when we have our next batch.”
When asked on the makeup of the grid, Blocker said there will be “new faces, new drivers and new teams” next year.
Longtime Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Carrera Cup Deutschland entrant MRS-GT Racing has already revealed intentions of fielding two cars in what will be the team’s U.S. debut.
“We’ve done a lot of prospecting throughout the entire motorsport market,” said Blocker. “The interest level has been really good on that side.”
Carrera Cup North America Two Years in the Making
Armbruster said PMNA has been working behind the scenes on the launch of the region’s first-ever Carrera Cup for the last two years, with extensive research and travel involved to determine the permitted deviation allowed for each market.
“We started very early,” he said. “The first thing was to analyze how the other markets were doing it.
“So we traveled to Australia, Europe, Germany, Great Britain. It was quite a lot just to look how the other series are adapting the ruleset to their individual markets.
“Since then we brought all of the topics together and for the last year we’ve really dug down, checked the sporting regulations, the technical regulations and figured out a plan of how it could work out.
“Especially with the launch of the 992, I think this increases the momentum. If we are launching the Carrera Cup with the new car, we have a double effect and larger momentum.
“The interest is incredible right now so we’re really happy about this.”
Blocker explained that Carrera Cup North America will feature several key changes to the current IMSA-sanctioned GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, including the implementation of Porsche’s global technical and sporting regulations, Porsche-controlled marketing and communications and a dedicated season-long Junior Program.
“We can also now send someone to compete in the Supercup, which is the pinnacle of what Porsche one-make has to offer,” said Blocker. “It also creates synergies for our gentlemen drivers as now they’re driving under the same ruleset as other markets and expands their window of opportunity.”
For the first time, the entire Rookie class will be part of the North America Junior Program, following on from Porsche’s Young Driver Academy event, which has typically been held annually at Barber Motorsports Park.
“It’s more the full setup,” Armbruster said. “We are looking at the entire picture of a driver. It’s not just someone who has won the championship and we send him to Germany.
“Normally it pays out if you have technical knowledge, good communication with engineers, and not having accidents or penalties. Normally it leads to winning a championship.
“The championship can be the summary of all these things but at the end of the day we’re evaluating with who we will send.”