Porsche Motorsport North America President and CEO Dr. Daniel Armbruster believes 2018 is a “transition year” for its GT3 and GT4 customer programs, as the German manufacturer ramps up for the debut of new machinery next year.
New versions of the Porsche 911 GT3 R and Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR are due in 2019, which is expected to lead to increased car counts in both IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge competition.
Porsche has seen a drop in customer teams in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with Wright Motorsports so far the only GT Daytona team committed for the full-season, along with fewer GT4-spec Caymans on the grid in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge as well.
Armbruster, who took over from Jens Walther as PMNA’s new boss last September, said a concerted effort is now underway to grow its customer base around the upcoming two new models.
“For us it’s a transition year,” Armbruster told Sportscar365. “We’re still waiting for the new cars; it will be launched pretty soon.
“A lot of GT4 customers changed to other brands and entered the market with downsized GT3s. You can see that with the car counts at the track; they’ve dropped down.
“But we’ve already started to talk with teams for next year.
“The feedback we’ve gotten is that if a customer moves to a different brand, they realize the benefits of Porsche and the customer support and what we can deliver at the race tracks.”
A timeline for the rollout of the new GT3 and GT4-spec models is still being determined, although both are expected to debut next January at Daytona, following end-of-year test races in Europe.
“Right now, it isn’t published yet when we will launch the car, but we are still planning for it to be this year,” Armbruster said. “If you want to run in Daytona, you have to [be ready].
“We are still in planning but starting to discuss with teams about the concept.
“My intention is to use this year to define more precisely our ecosystem so it’s more visible and understandable for our customers.”
Porsche’s Customer Ladder System
Armbruster said he’s also looking to reinforce Porsche’s customer ladder system, which begins at the club racing level and goes up to the GTD class in the WeatherTech Championship, which he considers as the pinnacle of privateer GT racing in North America.
“IMSA is very attractive, also with the races like Daytona and Sebring,” he said. “When I speak with the customers everyone wants to go to IMSA but some of them can’t afford it.
“I think it’s part of the customer’s journey.
“A team, for example, runs Cup Challenge, the next step is driving a GT3, normally, I would propose to start with PWC.
“It’s affordable; you can do Sprint and SprintX and adjust it to your needs and your personal performance level.
“For me, out of the one-makes, the next step is PWC and after that IMSA.”