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Laudenbach: Having “Robust” Car Key to Success in LMDh Era

Porsche Motorsport boss on keys to success in LMDh platform amid spec parts, BoP…

Photo: Marc Urbano/Porsche

Porsche has focused on building a “robust” LMDh car that not only has speed but good drivability, an area that its motorsports boss Thomas Laudenbach says is a key for success amid the spec nature and governance of the platform.

The German manufacturer is one of four brands that have built LMDh cars for the launch season of the GTP class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the formula’s integration into the Hypercar ranks of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Unlike LMH cars that have open rules on chassis and hybrid development, all LMDh cars must run a single-specification hybrid system, along with aligning with one of the four licensed chassis constructors.

Coupled with a revised Balance of Performance process in both championships, Porsche’s Laudenbach says that building a fast car is no longer the only objective for manufacturers in the new world of LMDh racing.

“On the one side we’ve got restrictions from the technical basis by the rules,” he explained. “We’ve got spec parts that we all have to fit.

“All in all, it’s not like the old LMP1 times. None of us will gain a big advantage just through technology; that’s not possible.

“Of course we want to differ from each other. So what can you do?

“I think the keys are that you need a fast car, [there’s] no question about that. But if I look into [the LMDh] group, everybody knows how to build a fast car.

“Now the question is: [is it] easy handling? Easy handling helps you to do a perfect job at the race track and not making mistakes.

“A car that feels good, no matter if you have the tank full of gasoline or it’s empty.

“At the end of a 24-hour race we all know what a car looks like with some damage, a lot of rubber on the wing… whatever.

“If you make it possible, the car can still work at the optimal level and is still being as fast as the first half-an-hour of the race. It’s like making it robust.

“These are the core points to winning races, of course, on the basis that your car has performance.”

All four LMDh brands will kick off the new prototype era from a near identical starting point in terms of BoP, thanks to new performance windows outlined by the FIA, ACO and IMSA that has put each car at the same minimum weight, peak power outputs and maximum stint energy.

While the BoP is likely to evolve throughout the WeatherTech Championship season and could be different in the WEC, Laudenbach said that the car’s drivability will play a bigger factor due to the nature of the rules.

“The single lap time performance will be balanced,” he said. “If you try to win it just through a ‘peaky,’ very fast car, I don’t think this is the key to success, especially not a ‘peaky’ car.

“We all know that the biggest gain in lap time over the long distance is if the driver feels confident and if the driver has a good feeling of the car; that’s one of the most important things.

“This will be, at least some of the factors that we consider that are keys to success.”

Laudenbach added: “It’s much easier to say I’m developing 10 horsepower more because that’s a clear goal that you can measure and achieve.

“I think it’s a lot more difficult to set the targets for a car that needs to handle good and to feel well in a wide range of operation.

“The challenge that all four of us are facing is a very high demand.”

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

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