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Zurlinden: Porsche “Won’t Have Less to Do” During Pandemic

Porsche’s factory motorsport boss offers update on COVID-19 situation at Weissach…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche’s head of factory motorsport Pascal Zurlinden says the manufacturer “won’t have less to do” despite the worldwide slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Porsche has encouraged some of its employees to work from home to minimize social contact, although the marque’s racing HQ in Weissach, Germany remains operational.

Zurlinden recently told reporters that the company’s motorsport division is aiming to continue working in an adapted way through the current period of uncertainty.

Porsche has stopped track testing at its Weissach facility, although Zurlinden said that the development of the 911 GT3 Cup car’s successor for its 2021 rollout is ongoing.

“At the moment we just see that we are three or four weeks into this crisis in Europe,” he said. “It’s difficult to foresee what is happening in the future. Everything is unknown.

“We are in close contact with all the series organizers and track owners around the world to see what is happening. It is changing day by day, to be honest.

“I think in 2020 we are passengers of government decisions about big events not happening and travel limitations. We can only react.

“But we have already implemented compromises now and this will continue as long we have no racing.

“We will not have less to do. There is still a lot of homework and development to do and this will continue.

“Porsche Motorsport is also developing road cars, and this is completely independent from the race cars. They are now concentrating more on road cars, so we are now adapting to the situation.”

Zurlinden explained that the pandemic will likely affect Porsche’s customer racing program, which covers GT3, GT2, GT4 and GTE cars, more than the factory GTE project.

“At works racing, even when we are not racing, there is a lot of development going on,” he said.

“We are still working flat out to be ready when we come back. On the customer racing department, it’s a bit different because when the customers are not racing, you have not so much support at the racetrack.

“You have fewer parts to sell because parts don’t break when you’re not driving. Many of our customer racing department are not working full-time but get support from the state.

“Most of the guys are working in home office. Every second day we call the team to explain how everything is and how it’s going.

“Keeping in touch as a family is really important for us and seeing that everyone is fine with the situation.”

Zurlinden suggested that the impact will be felt to a greater degree on the Formula E side because of Porsche’s relative inexperience in the electric racing series.

Formula E has canceled five of its 2019-20 season races because of the pandemic, which has limited Porsche’s ability to gather data on its powertrain in race conditions.

“That is one championship that will suffer the most from this break,” said Zurlinden.

“Our target was to learn all the characteristics of the different tracks, because mid-season testing is not possible.

“This will test our goals a bit, but we are pushing in simulations and so on to come back stronger than we were before.”

Zurlinden added that Porsche has not copied the trend set by some major soccer clubs to reduce the salaries of its factory drivers and high-level motorsport staff.  

“We do not [plan to do this] at the moment,” he said.

“Looking at the calendars which are already published, our drivers will be really busy in the second half of the year, if everything happens.

“Then we will have as many races as the last [few] years. We are just looking at what’s happening.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

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