Roger Penske says that he doesn’t think there’s “any question” why they wouldn’t look at its crop of NTT IndyCar Series drivers to help make up the endurance lineup in Porsche Penske Motorsport’s LMDh program.
The legendary motorsports operation will compete in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Multimatic-built factory Porsche LMDh cars beginning in 2023.
With at least 12 seats needing to be filled factoring in the team’s expected four-car effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Penske said he’s hopeful that some of his team’s IndyCar stars could fit into the mix at the long-distance events.
Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin currently drive for Team Penske in IndyCar.
“I certainly would hope that based on what requirements we have to have based on some of the rules — I don’t know all of them yet [for WEC] — we would certainly look to those guys,” said Penske.
“I think they would qualify under our joint leadership at Porsche and would be good candidates.
“When you look at what [Ryan] Hunter-Reay and [Alexander] Rossi has done, they’ve been terrific in the long distance races.
“I don’t think there’s any question we wouldn’t be looking at our own home team for those long distance races for sure.”
Penske said he “can’t really comment” on the extent of the driver lineup discussions but indicted that former American Le Mans Series champion Pagenaud, who was part of Acura Team Penske’s endurance lineup, would be considered based on his previous level of sports car racing experience and success.
The Frenchman is currently competing in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races with Action Express Racing.
“If you think of the number of drivers we’re going to have to engage in 2023… [Simon] certainly is an experienced in that field and has done a great job for us on the Acura side,” Penske said.
“Along with him, every guy sitting here this weekend [in Detroit] would love to have a chance to drive in either series at this point.”
When asked what kind of influence Penske will have on the driver lineups with Porsche, he said it “isn’t a card game where one guy puts a card down.”
The majority of the full-season driver lineup is expected to come from Porsche’s existing roster of factory pilots.
“This is strictly sitting down and we’ll look at every driver amongst all of them and try to have the best available,” Penske said.
Single Team Approach for Global Program
Penske has reaffirmed they will operate as a single global team with “people going back and forth” between its bases in North Carolina and Germany for its full-season WEC and WeatherTech Championship campaigns.
When asked by Sportscar365 if the team will utilize a similar approach to Chip Ganassi Racing, which had Multimatic operate its Ford WEC program, Penske indicated this will not be the case.
“Porsche Penske Motorsport is one organization. It won’t be two,” he said.
“We’ll utilize whatever support, either individuals or tools we can have that we need to be successful like we do here [in the U.S.].
“That’s one of the things we wanted to be sure. A cross pollination of information, when you have two different organizations it’s always tough.
“When they’re the same people that can work on both different series — not always at the same time — but we have that availability and flexibility will make a big difference.”
Penske said they’re currently in the process of looking at the personnel structure and how they’ll establish a base in Germany.
One person is expected to oversee the entire global program with dedicated general managers for the WEC and IMSA operations.
All of its crew from the Acura DPi program, which concluded last year, have been retained and will serve as the “backbone” of the effort according to Penske.
“We’ll also have some real good input and support from Porsche themselves where they have some very good people they’ve offered [us] to talk to and hopefully put on the team,” said Penske.
“We’ll have people in Germany working in the U.S. and vice-versa. We have to.”
2022 Sports Car Outings Not Ruled Out
Penske hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking part in one or several endurance races next year as a warmup for 2023.
Team Penske campaigned an Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car in the 2017 Petit Le Mans as a warmup to its Acura DPi program the following year.
“We’ve got to look at what the options are there,” Penske said.
“What we’re able to do next year, putting a team together, if we can run somewhere, whether it’s Sebring or a Daytona or something like that you have to have the right equipment to do that with.
“We really haven’t gotten there yet… Anything is a possibility.”