Team Penske will not complete the FIA World Endurance Championship season with its LMP2 entry as it moves to focus fully on the development of Porsche’s LMDh car.
The American organization announced on Friday that its program with the No. 5 Oreca 07 Gibson will end after round three at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.
It means that Penske will not be on the WEC grid for the 6 Hours of Monza, the 6 Hours of Fuji and the 8 Hours of Bahrain later in the year.
The team entered LMP2 to gather experience in the world championship before it joins the top Hypercar class next season as the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad.
It finished eighth in class at the 1000 Miles of Sebring season-opener with Felipe Nasr, Dane Cameron and Emmanuel Collard, who then improved to fourth at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa earlier this month.
A Team Penske statement said that the team has elected to miss the second half of the WEC season as it turns its attention to “putting maximum effort into testing and preparation of its Porsche Penske Motorsport LMDh program”.
Porsche and Penske are running two factory cars in both the WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, with separate team bases established in Mannheim and Mooresville respectively.
The Porsche LMDh has been testing at European race tracks in recent months but a second test car is due to start running at American circuits during the summer.
The statement went on to say that an intensive cross-Atlantic testing program is necessary to “ensure the four-car effort is ready to compete at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January of 2023”.
Team Penske President Tim Cindric commented: “We are very appreciative of our time in WEC this year and we have been able to make the most of our time on track this season.
“As an organization, we didn’t have a lot of experience within WEC, so running the races in 2022 has allowed us to learn the tracks, the rules and understand how a race weekend operates.
“We were able to gather a lot of feedback and information over the first two races and we expect to learn even more at Le Mans.
“Fortunately, our LMDh program is progressing quickly, so we need to focus that to ensure we are prepared for the start of the 2023 season.”
Porsche has previously expressed interest in entering its LMDh car into a WEC round this season after the FIA opened the possibility for pre-homologation cars from the new formula to join the grid, as part of a data-gathering exercise.
No such race outing has been confirmed by the German manufacturer, however the withdrawal of the Penske LMP2 entry leaves a gap in the field.
During a recent LMDh test at Spa, Porsche’s Head of Motorsport Thomas Laudenbach said that the Bahrain season finale in mid-November would be the only feasible option for a 2022 race appearance.
“We are happy that this opportunity exists,” he told Sportscar365.
“But it needs to be beneficial for the program. Looking at the schedule, the only thing that really might be interesting is Bahrain.
“For sure, one of the best things you can do is racing. But it only makes sense if we consider ourselves in a shape that is mature enough to go racing.”