Porsche is still on schedule for the rollout of its LMDh car by the end of the year according to its new head of motorsport Thomas Laudenbach.
The German manufacturer, which will re-enter top-level prototype competition in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023, is targeting a shakedown of its yet-to-be-named LMDh car before Christmas.
“That is still the plan,” Laudenbach told journalists Tuesday in a video call. “The schedule is tight but we’re still heading for that.”
Laudenbach said the car, built in cooperation with Multimatic, has been on an “extremely tight” schedule but are in “good shape” to meet its internal deadlines.
“LMDh, it’s a complex structure because we need a manufacturer for the car, we have single-supplier parts, we have our own parts and a partner with Penske,” he explained.
“From the structured setup, it’s not the easiest way to go. This is challenging but I would say we are still on a good path and we will make it on time.”
He said a decision on the location of the shakedown has not been finalized but has ruled it out occurring at a race track.
“I think with a brand-new car you should always do a proper shakedown, a proper rollout and not for the first time directly go to a race track,” he said.
“If we set up the car, the first step is always a proper rollout. If we do that in Weissach or somewhere else, it isn’t decided yet.
“It will be some kind of rollout to see if all of the systems are working right, to do the setup, to do the calibration and these kind of things.
“This would not be a first proper performance test. It’s really to get all of the systems working.”
Laudenbach, who took over from Fritz Enzinger as the Vice President of Porsche Motorsport last month, said he expects to offer customer cars to teams in both the WEC and WeatherTech Championship in its launch year.
However, he indicated that they will unlikely be able to meet the current demand at least for the first year.
A price for the car has also not yet been set.
“We clearly plan to make it possible for at least a certain amount of customers to start in 2023,” Laudenbach said.
“This is for us a challenge because we are still developing the car and it doesn’t make our life easier to start with a factory program at the same time as customers.
“They will get 100 percent the same car and the same possibilities as the factory; that is clear.
“Our goal is to clearly make it possible in 2023 and that should be possible, and probably then some more customers if they want to buy our car in 2024.”
Confirmation on Driver Lineups to “Still Take a Bit of Time”
Laudenbach wouldn’t provide any details on the timeframe for its driver lineup announcements, admitting it will “still take a bit of time.”
“We’re working on the driver lineup,” he said. “It’s a bit too early to say who it will be.
“We always try to make a mixture of drivers that are already with us, young drivers who we want to bring up and also probably to get somebody from outside.
“I think a good mixture is very important.”
When asked about newly-signed Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected driver Yifei Ye, who won this year’s European and Asian Le Mans Series championships in LMP2, Laudenbach indicated the Chinese rising star could be part of the discussions.
“The fact that he was chosen as a Selected Porsche driver shows that we think he’s got potential,” he said. “To me, it’s far too early to say what this will lead to.
“We have a big history and wide range of bringing up young drivers.
“If you look at drivers who start in the one-make series and goes to GT3 R and end up in an RSR or LMP, I could imagine, yes.
“But to say yeah he will be definitely in a LMDh is far too early to say. I would love to see that because I think it would be good to have a Chinese driver.
“It’s always good to be international. I’d like to see it but in the end the driver has to be fast. We’ll have to see how he performs. I personally hope he develops well and then I could imagine this would happen. There’s no guarantee. It’s always about performance.”