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JOTA Planning to Test Porsche LMDh Before Taking Delivery

JOTA eager to start work on Porsche 963 ahead of Hypercar program in next year’s WEC…

Photo: MPS Agency

JOTA is planning to test a manufacturer-provided Porsche 963 before taking delivery of its own car, as part of its preparations for next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship.

The British team announced last month that it has joined forces with car rental giant Hertz and special vehicle design company Singer for an entry into the top Hypercar class with Porsche’s new LMDh prototype.

It marks the first confirmed customer LMDh in the WEC’s Hypercar class, with JOTA stepping up from LMP2 where it has won 15 world championship races including this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

JOTA has not yet received its Porsche 963, but it plans to conduct testing with a factory model until then so that it can get acquainted with the different systems.

Co-owner David Clark explained that Porsche invited JOTA to some of its earlier tests and has been willing to accommodate its crew at sessions later this year before the customer car arrives.

It is unclear precisely when JOTA will test the Porsche 963 for the first time.

“The reason we didn’t go was because we hadn’t signed the deal, but they still invited us,” said Clark. “We didn’t think it was the right thing to do in case we didn’t sign the deal.

“We’re not going to Sebring [for this week’s LMDh test]. It’s just too far for us at the moment. We will be at Monza for three days probably with a full team of personnel.

“People have been fantastic: another manufacturer has invited us to do all the safety training on the hybrid so we can get up to speed with everything.

Clark added: “We want our engineers to learn about the car, and Porsche are totally open to that.

“They just welcome you with it. There’s no secret with it. When you’re in with Porsche, you’re in. If you commit to them, they commit to you. It’s quite inspirational, to be honest.”

Clark noted that JOTA is “not pushing” for a hasty delivery of its 963 because it wants Porsche to be satisfied with its own development before releasing a customer model.

“We’ll probably know in a couple of months,” he said. “They’re going to end up with a fully sorted car.

“And then we will get that car, do our own testing and development, make it our own car, and see how we go.”

The JOTA Porsche program originated around six months ago according to Clark, who described it as a “partnership-type deal” between the main commercial parties.

Two key architects of the program are Greg O’Hara and Tom Wagner, who sit on the Hertz board of directors and are also closely involved in the activities of Singer Vehicle Design.

Singer, which was founded by musician Robert Dickinson, is a California-based creator of modified Porsche 911s.

“How the deal actually happened was I dreamt up that Singer want to get closer to Porsche,” said Clark.

“Tom and Greg, and Singer, thought it might be a good idea if they did LMDh. Six months later of stress and heartache, that happened.

“These guys think outside the box. They’re serious guys. Apart from being a global business, Hertz are a historic team. So that’s really how it started.

He added: “For us, it’s a really big thing. But I think that also for motorsport, it’s quite a big thing because it’s a fully-funded private team.

“The privateer like us should always be part of endurance racing.”

Clark praised Porsche for its support of JOTA, Hertz and Singer’s collective plans.

The Porsche 963 is currently the only LMDh car available for private teams to race next year, with the manufacturer having allocated four chassis for customer use.

“Porsche are amazing,” Clark said. “It’s just what they give you and the way they go about things. They’re just ahead of the game. We were really keen to get in for 2023.

“I’m not saying this to be bullish, but we don’t have any fear of the factories. Between myself, Sam [Hignett, JOTA co-owner], Tom and Greg, we can make a decision like that.

“You don’t have to go through boardrooms or anything. That was our ultimate goal. And hopefully, in our plans, we want to run two cars in 2024.”

LMP2 Involvement Remains to Be Seen

One key question surrounding JOTA’s Hypercar program is whether it will continue to operate in LMP2, where it has competed successfully for several years.

Clark effectively ruled out being able to run two LMP2 cars next year but suggested that the team would be open to fielding a single Oreca 07 Gibson if it can do so without negatively impacting the new project.

It is unclear what will happen to JOTA’s GT3 program with McLaren.

“Don’t know yet,” Clark said when asked if Hypercar will come at the expense of LMP2.

“We definitely wouldn’t run two [LMP2] cars. And nothing would impeach or interfere on the LMDh program.

“So if there is something there which Greg, Tom and us agree on, we would do it. If it’s something they don’t want to do, we won’t do it.

“Having got to the stage it is, it would be sheer madness to be greedy. In our heart, we always want to run LMP2. The 101 percent focus is on LMDh.

“If we did end up running one [LMP2] car, it would only be at the level we want to run. It wouldn’t be for any other reason.”

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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