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Porsche Penske WEC, IMSA Teams to Run “Autonomously”

Porsche Penske Motorsport building up two sets of crew for global sports car effort…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche Penske Motorsport is in the process of building up two teams that will have the capability of operating “autonomously” according to the group’s managing director Jonathan Diuguid.

The legendary American organization led by Roger Penske is set to take on a dual FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program next year with factory Porsche 963 LMDh cars.

While running under the same banner, PPM’s WEC operations will work out of an extension of a Penske dealership in Mannheim, Germany, with Team Penske’s Mooresvile, N.C. motorsports headquarters to serve as the base for its WeatherTech Championship program.

“We’re building a team not only here in the U.S. but also in Mannheim,” said Penske. “On top of that we’re finishing our race shop in Mannheim, which should be finished in the next four to six weeks.

“We’re operating out of there; we have a separate building we’ve been operating with the LMP2 car.

“Weissach is only an hour away from Mannheim, so it’s made it quite a good interface there. The commitment and support from Porsche has been terrific.”

Diuguid, who oversees the entire global operation, said they’ve so far utilized a mix of its future WEC and IMSA crew in its extensive testing program both in Europe and the U.S.

Francis Schammo has been named team manager for the WEC effort with Joel Svensson in the WeatherTech Championship.

“The main approach to the team is that we know we’re going to have to operate a WEC program in Europe and an IMSA program in the United States,” said Diuguid.

“As you’ve seen [at the Daytona test], we have a lot of personnel — probably more than we need — but the goal is to have people that are going to be in both championships here from the start of the program so they have the intrinsic knowledge of when things fail or when things break, they’re part of the solutions.

“When those two groups split up, hopefully we’ll have people that were part of the program from the start.

“Right now we have a two-car team of personnel but half of that group are WEC destined and the other half are IMSA destined. We’re going to continue to build up both those programs over the next three or four months with adding additional personnel.”

While not expecting any direct date clashes next year, other than both teams being on-site at the ‘Super Sebring’ event for its respective races, Diuguid said the two organizations will have the capability of operating on its own.

“The planning and the structure is going to be to where the teams can operate autonomously, so they’re not going to be reliant on personnel coming from one place to another,” he said.

“But we will be doing that on purpose, in the testing phases, to make sure people get exposed to what’s happening on the other team and vice-versa.

“The engineering group coordination is going to be quite tight. We’re operating off the same file structure, server… Everything’s in the same place.

“There’s weekly engineering meetings so there’s going to be a lot of communication, mostly though [Microsoft] Teams and everything else we’ve been accustomed to over the past two years.

“But in general the teams are going to be set up to operate autonomously from a personnel standpoint.”

When asked if PPM will bring in selected WEC personnel for the program’s debut race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Diuguid indicated they will staff-up at both Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the maximum allowed crew numbers.

Both races will feature two factory Porsche 963s, with Penske having ruled out running additional cars in the first year.

“I think the 24-hour races we’ll try to take whatever staff we’re allowed to take… just because those events tend to be longer and they tend to overload the staff more,” said Diuguid.

“Any time we can utilize the personnel we have within the PPM team we’re going to do it.”

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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