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Porsche: PPM Fighting Customer 963s is ‘What We Wanted’

No hard feelings towards JOTA for beating factory Penske Porsches at Spa, says Urs Kuratle…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche LMDh factory director Urs Kuratle says the fight between the works and customer 963s in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is a situation the German marque “wanted to have”, adding Hertz Team JOTA’s victory was “great to see”.

The No. 12 JOTA car shared by Will Stevens and Callum Ilott beat the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport entry of Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor in a straight duel at the end of the extended, red-flagged third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

It marked the first win for a Porsche LMDh customer globally, as well as the first time that a privateer team has taken outright victory in the WEC’s Hypercar era.

Looking back on the Spa event, Kuratle was keen to highlight the good-natured rivalry between PPM and the Porsche customer teams, saying there was no ill feeling towards JOTA for beating the No. 6 car to victory.

“We have a very good relationship with not only JOTA but all the customer teams, and it definitely helps [the factory team],” said Kuratle.

“Just to give you one example, there’s one open parts list, and if anything breaks or fails on any of the cars, that information goes to all of the teams.

“We struggled a bit last year to set this up while we were racing, it was one of the big things to organize. But when it comes to reliability, we have way more data points, having all those cars running.

“When it comes to performance data, to real racing, then the teams work on their own. After the red flag at Spa, there was not much conversation going on between Porsche Penske Motorsport and JOTA because obviously both teams were racing against each other for the win.

“But that’s a situation Porsche wanted to have, it’s one of the reasons to show that we can also do it with customer cars. It was great to see, and there was no bitter taste or anything for the Porsche Penske Motorsport team towards JOTA.

“Roger [Penske] was the first to congratulate these guys [JOTA] at Spa, which was really nice to see.”

After the decision to resume the race following a delay of nearly two hours after the crash involving Earl Bamber’s Cadillac and Sean Gelael’s BMW, Ilott was able to keep Estre at arm’s length as both cars cycled to the front of the field having made their last pit stops just before the red flags.

Porsche elected to give Estre four fresh tires at the last round of stops, while JOTA gave Ilott only left-side tires, with the faster stop for the No. 12 car allowing Ilott a relatively comfortable run to the flag.

Kuratle said there was no concern for the factory team about the speed shown by the No. 12 car in the closing stages.

“From what we see, they are about the same pace at the end of the day,” Kuratle said.

“We don’t see that the JOTA car was particularly faster at that stage at the race. However, the tires were slightly different.

“We do not know the exact set-up [of the JOTA car] but we do have a good exchange with our customer teams, so we know a bit about what they did with the tires. Taking that into consideration, I don’t see a massive difference between the two cars.”

Porsche Celebrates “One Of The Best Weekends Ever” Amid Global Success

Hertz Team JOTA’s win at Spa was followed up the next day by the Porsche Penske Motorsport car of Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet taking victory in the Laguna Seca round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championhip, marking the first time 963s have won in both WEC and IMSA on the same weekend.

Additionally, Porsche GT3 teams celebrated success in both WEC and IMSA, with Manthey Racing scoring a 1-2 in the LMGT3 class at Spa and AO Racing taking GTD Pro honors at Laguna Seca.

To cap off what Kuratle described as one of the best weekends in Porsche Motorsport history, Antonio Felix da Costa came out on top in the second Formula E race of the weekend at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport.

“It was an extremely good weekend for the LMDh program, but we also had the Formula E win in Berlin on Sunday, and we had some good results for GT cars, not forgetting the class wins in both IMSA and WEC,” said Kuratle.

“For Porsche Motorsport, it was probably one of the best weekends ever. I don’t know if it was statistically the best ever, but [Porsche motorsport boss] Thomas Laudenbach and the board members were very happy, I can tell you that much!”

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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