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Porsche GTLM Axe “Completely Independent” to LMDh Prospects

Porsche Motorsport factory director Pascal Zurlinden on IMSA GTLM withdrawal, LMDh prospects…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche’s decision to end its factory IMSA GT Le Mans class involvement has been made “completely independent” of its ongoing talks to enter the LMDh platform according to its director of factory motorsports.

The German manufacturer announced Thursday its withdrawal from the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s factory GT ranks at the end of the 2020 season, citing the financial crisis surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It comes amid Porsche’s continued evaluation of IMSA and the ACO’s new global prototype platform that’s scheduled to debut in 2022.

Speaking with Sportscar365, Porsche’s Pascal Zurlinden reaffirmed that that its LMDh prospects had no factor in the decision to end the GTLM program one year early from its contract with North American operator CORE autosport.

“It is completely independent from LMDh,” Zurlinden said. “The decision was no way related to Porsche’s involvement in the newly conceived LMDh category.

“We are still working in the concept of LMDh, on what we were asked from our board to evaluate what the situation is.

“This is still ongoing. There is no link between both.”

Zurlinden said the decision between Porsche and CORE was an “open discussion” and that “everyone [understood] the actual situation” in regards to the financial crisis facing nearly all industries worldwide. 

He declined to comment about the status of CORE’s contract with Porsche, which was announced in October 2018 as a three-year extension that would have put the program through at least the end of the 2021 WeatherTech Championship season.

“That would be speculation but before the crisis came we didn’t plan to stop the program,” Zurlinden said.

When asked about potential future projects involving the Jon Bennett and Morgan Brady-led CORE operation, Zurlinden said it’s “a bit too early” to say.

“We need to sit down with them, to be honest,” he said. “We need a few more weeks to sort everything out.”

Porsche Planning on 2021 WEC Program

Zurlinden confirmed that the current plan entails for it to continue in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year with its factory Porsche 911 RSRs, which are currently operated by Manthey Racing.

“As it looks like [today], that’s the plan,” he said.

A potential LMDh program, however, would likely be for both championships although Zurlinden said it’s “too early to say” if the two programs would receive the same level of factory involvement should the green light be given on a return to prototype racing.

“Looking at LMDh, the biggest positive as we said in the past is that you can work with one car in IMSA and WEC,” he said.

“It’s still speculation as there’s no decision but it would make sense to run in both championships.”

Zurlinden said he doesn’t expect a decision on LMDh to come before the end of the year at the earliest.

“At the moment we’re gathering all of the information together,” he said. “This can be an evolving process. Let’s see when it comes but I don’t think it will be in the next two or three months.”

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

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