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Porsche to Forgo Early LMDh Debut in Bahrain

German manufacturer opts for increased U.S. testing program over early race debut…

Photo: John Dagys

Porsche has confirmed that it will not contest November’s FIA World Endurance Championship season finale with its LMDh car, electing to forgo the 8 Hours of Bahrain to instead focus on an increased U.S.-based testing program.

The German manufacturer had been actively considering contesting the WEC round thanks to a provision by the FIA and ACO that had permitted LMDh machinery to be present on a “race by race” basis this year ahead of the platform’s integration into the Hypercar class beginning in 2023.

The decision to forgo Bahrain with the Porsche 963 is understood to have been made late last month.

“Our testing plans are changing,” said Porsche LMDh factory motorsport director Urs Kuratle.

“We were evaluating — as we’ve always said we’d see what makes the most sense for us — and we’ve decided it doesn’t make the most sense or the biggest sense to go to Bahrain. That’s why we decided not to go.

“We are discussing different tests in North America. We will see how to use that time we gained.

“There would have been a lot of travel time and freight, etc. relayed onto a flyaway test or race. We’ll have to see how effective we use the time gained now.

“It would have been good to test at the race. For the crew and the whole operation it’s always good to be in a race environment because that gives a different pressure to everything. That’s why we thought about it.

“But then again after evaluating all the possibilities we have, we decided not to do it.”

Kuratle also confirmed that the 963 will not be present at the first IMSA-sanctioned test at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 3-5, which unlike the December test at Daytona International Speedway, is not mandatory for LMDh manufacturers.

“We never planned to it; that’s from the beginning,” he explained. “It was always a thing that didn’t fit into our plans.”

Porsche is coming off a two-day test at Daytona last weekend that also saw Acura and Cadillac’s LMDh cars in action.

It marked the second U.S. running of the car following a five-day outing at Sebring International Raceway in July.

The car, now in Porsche Penske Motorsport’s full race livery, had returned to the U.S. following a test in Monza and a further shakedown at Porsche’s Weissach test track last month as it continued to work through ongoing issues with the spec Bosch MGU.

“We’ve been plagued with supply chain issues and some technical things we have from one of our suppliers which has kept us somewhat grounded,” said Roger Penske.

Kuratle said they’ve accumulated more than 16,000 kms of running between the two test chassis, with the goal of achieving 30,000 kms in testing prior to the car’s race debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“The test plan always changes for one reason or another,” he said. “Now we are back on the original schedule. We changed a bit in the beginning of the year.”

Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid said they plan to ramp up U.S. testing to have two cars by November, including at the IMSA-sanctioned Daytona test on Dec. 6-7.

So far, Porsche has built three 963 chassis, with the first car having been allocated for the FIA’s crash tests and static testing, and Chassis 2 and 3 used primarily for European and U.S. testing, respectively.

The two test cars will be replaced by race chassis at a yet-to-be-determined date.

“Whether the new race cars will be here in December, we’ll need to see but definitely we’ll have new chassis for next year,” Kuratle added.

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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