Porsche Penske Motorsport is unlikely to bring four LMDh cars to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans according to Roger Penske, who says the team needs to avoid ‘overloading’ itself during the first year of the program.
Porsche is set to make its return to top-level prototype racing with an LMDh effort in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Thomas Laudenbach, the manufacturer’s motorsport boss, hinted to Sportscar365 in May that Porsche was hoping to have its pair of IMSA cars make the journey across the Atlantic to join the two WEC entries, thus forming a four-car effort in the Hypercar class.
However, Penske downplayed suggestions that all four cars would be present in the French endurance classic next year, stating that the team needed to be careful not to go too fast too soon.
“I certainly would not say that’s the fact,” Penske said of the potential of a four-car entry.
“Everything will be determined on where we are and the last thing we need to do is overload ourselves especially as we’re trying to get components [delivered].
“Next year’s Le Mans is right around the corner, we don’t even have cars to run as we’re sitting here today, three months from now we’re going to be almost racing.”
Penske indicated that an expansion of the number of cars could be considered for 2024, but stressed that the priority is to get the program in good shape before more cars are brought in.
“I would say that [in] 2024, we might look at that or run a third car,” he said. “We’ve not committed and I think there’s always discussions, but we need to run two cars and who will be driving at that point.
“The nice thing is if you go like this with the cars, it will be seamless. I don’t see four cars next year. When you’ll see Lamborghini coming in, there’s going to be a lot more people coming in.
“So we want to make sure that we’ve got ourselves honed before we start coming in with more than what we need.”
Two Factory Cars for 2023 Daytona Debut
Similarly, figures within Porsche are expecting to only run its two full-season WeatherTech Championship cars in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Team Penske’s press release on the discontinuation of its LMP2 effort made reference to a potential greater number of cars, as the team wrote it was working “to ensure the four-car effort is ready to compete at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January of 2023.”
However, Laudenbach has indicated this will not be the case.
“We clearly have the plan to run two cars in IMSA and two cars in WEC,” Laudenbach told Sportscar365.
“If we come to Daytona, the plan – if everything is OK – we will be there with two cars. I wouldn’t say also more.
“We have our program with Penske, and there is a possibility for customers. But that is up to them. We are prepared to sell cars for the first year, which is a tough goal that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“It is quite tough to prepare customer cars for the first year, but looking at our history it was always part of our DNA. So we are happy to provide. I cannot speak for them. The goal for our partner team with Penske is two cars on the grid.”
Penske also rejected the idea of four factory GTP entries at Daytona, saying the team is doing “anything it can to get ready” but that such a level of factory presence at the event would be ‘backbreaking.’
A Porsche spokesperson indicated that the line in the press release could be interpreted as a pair of factory cars plus two cars from customer teams, bringing the total of Porsches on the grid to four.
Similarly, Laudenbach said that there was no incentive for Porsche to ship its European cars to Daytona for the 24-hour Florida enduro.
“The question is, why should we do it?” said Laudenbach. “If we already have two cars in the U.S. why should we take the [WEC] cars? It’s also about costs.
“This would be an opportunity for someone who wants to race in WEC and Daytona; I’m not sure they would allow it, but we have planned to do two and two.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report