Connect with us

24H Le Mans

Kuratle: Porsche 963s Were “Missing” Top Speed

Porsche LMDh factory director on being unable to take fight to Ferrari, Toyota…

Photo: Porsche

The Porsche 963 struggled in top speed compared to its rivals according to the manufacturer’s LMDh factory director Urs Kuratle, who has lamented the results of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Porsche Penske Motorsport finished fourth and sixth with two of its factory LMDh cars, while Hertz Team JOTA got its privateer 963s home in eighth and ninth in this weekend’s French endurance classic.

It failed to reach the overall podium for the second consecutive year, although came significantly closer than the maiden outing for the package at Le Mans in 2023, which was marred with various mechanical and operational issues.

“It was close,” Kuratle told reporters post-race. “It was 40 seconds to the winner.

“What can I say? You could say we had four cars in the top-ten but nobody [would care]. That’s the way it is.”

When asked what the Porsches were lacking in the race, Kuratle was quick to note the top speed deficit to the competition in Hypercar.

While the No. 4 Penske Porsche had recorded the fastest top speed of 344.5 km/h (214 mph) that equaled the Toyota GR010 Hybrids, the two other works Porsches struggled in straight line pace compared to the Toyotas and race-winning Ferrari 499Ps.

The No. 6 Porsche was considerably slower at 337 km/h (209 mph), with the No. 5 entry clocked at a best top speed of 336 km/h (208 mph) in the speed traps, suggesting the two full-season FIA World Endurance Championship cars could have been on a different aero strategy.

“We were missing top speed,” Kuratle said. “Somehow the others were faster.

“Even though the thing was way closer than everybody was shouting and screaming before the weekend, but Porsche was missing top speed.

“If you have no top speed in Le Mans, you’re [screwed]. That’s the way it is. That’s one factor.

“The second factor is that we also made some tire calls that were probably not OK at the time. You can argue it was not easy today but anyways, it’s a 24-hour sprint race.

“It was full speed. Ferrari was fast and Toyota was also fast.

Kuratle added: “Congratulations to Ferrari. They were simply better than us. We were not good enough today.

“We made too many mistakes but still I’m somehow proud for the team… seriously.’

Kuratle pointed out several times where he felt the works cars didn’t make the right calls on tires, amid a challenging, mixed-condition race.

One instance came where Porsche Penske elected to keep Laurens Vanthoor out on slicks for an additional lap during a rain shower, that ultimately backfired.

“During lunchtime or early in the morning when the rain came there were some which we thought we would do different,” he explained.

“We had some safety cars. But also you hear that ten times up and down [the paddock] that you had bad luck with the Slow Zones, etc. But I guess everybody did.

“It’s not because we had back luck or because of the BoP. We [screwed] up.”

Jamie Klein contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

Click to comment

More in 24H Le Mans