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Cameron: Penske “Getting Our Heads Around” WEC LMP2

Dane Cameron says Penske “has a lot to learn” with its WEC LMP2 package…

Photo: MPS Agency

Dane Cameron says Team Penske has been trying to ‘get its head around’ the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 package and “has a lot to learn” about the class after qualifying ninth for the team’s series debut.

Cameron, who is teamed up with Felipe Nasr and Emmanuel Collard for the 1000 Miles of Sebring, felt “a little disappointed” in the result and indicated that there is room for improvement from the experienced open-wheel and sports car racing organization.

The American driver explained that Penske used the build-up to today’s WEC season-opener to identify a suitable balance for its Oreca 07 Gibson using the WEC’s medium-plus Goodyear tire and the mandatory low-downforce aero kit.

The team’s LMP2 effort is a precursor to Penske’s factory entry in the Hypercar class next year with Porsche’s in-development LMDh car.

“I was a little disappointed at the gap, but I felt we made some decent progress in terms of the balance,” Cameron told Sportscar365.

“It’s only really the second time we’ve run the car as a crew, so there’s still quite a lot for us to learn a lot about the tire and the aero config.

“We’re still getting our heads around it a little bit. We’re kind of thereabouts, maybe a little further back than we would have hoped. We were just lacking a little bit to get up at the sharper end.

“We were realistically thinking we would be somewhere between 5th and 8th and we were 9th. So just a bit further away.

“Balance-wise it was a little bit better. We just need a bit more to keep moving forward.

“But it’s a lot to take in at this stage, just learning all the intricacies of a championship the first time out.”

Expanding on the pursuit of improvements to the Oreca’s balance, Cameron said: “We haven’t been super happy in the official tests.

“We’ve just not been able to get what we want. We were good in the morning of the Prologue when it was a little cool and we were pretty reasonable in terms of the gap, but for whatever reason we just haven’t got back there.

“Still a lot to learn about what makes these tires happy. The aero package is very low [downforce].

“To be fair, I think we’re a little bit behind, but we’re doing our best to learn and catch up as quick as we can.

“We want to learn. This is a learning program. But we’re certainly not happy to be where we’re at, at the moment.”

Penske shook down its LMP2 car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last October but no members of the current lineup got behind the wheel, with Cameron and Nasr at the time focusing on their IMSA programs with Meyer Shank Racing and Action Express Racing.

“We came [to Sebring] for two days [at the Prologue] but that was the first time out with everybody,” Cameron said.

“I’ve never driven the LMP2 car in this spec and on these tires. Felipe had a little bit of exposure to it last year, and Emmanuel hasn’t driven a prototype for a few years.

“So as a group, it was the first time everybody was together. Everyone has been going around the world being busy.

“We’ve got great people and it’s a lot of familiar faces for me.”

Some of the crew have come from the Acura Team Penske DPi program with which Cameron won the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title.

“There is a number of people from that program, mechanic and crew-wise,” he noted.

“There are some new faces as well. Some guys that went to IndyCar and some that have joined the team after coming back from IndyCar.

“These rules are very different, but certainly we had some small growing pains at the beginning of the IMSA program as well. This team is very good at learning quickly from mistakes.

“We haven’t made massive ones, but we just haven’t got everything in the right order that we want. It’s a new championship, so we expected that.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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