Proton Competition is planning to give its IMSA-based Porsche 963 a debut at Road America as part of a three-race end-of-season WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program according to team principal Christian Ried.
The German squad, meanwhile, has not completely ruled out a first outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for its FIA World Endurance Championship Hypercar class effort, although Ried labeled it as a “slim” chance.
Proton, which has ordered two of the Multimatic-chassied LMDh cars, along with Hertz Team JOTA and JDC-Miller Motorsports, are all still slated to take delivery of the first batch of customer Porsche 963s in late April.
Ried, however, told Sportscar365 that they would need at least ten days of private testing with the car before being race-ready.
While a debut in the fifth round of the WEC season at Monza is currently in the cards, the team’s second chassis is on track to run for the first time at Road America in early August.
“The idea is for us to do it in Elkhart,” Ried said. “It’s similar to Monza, which is July. So if it’s a few weeks later, it’s perfect for us, timing-wise.
“We’ll then do Indy and Petit. At the end it’s just a learning and testing season for us.”
Ried indicated that they will likely utilize the same driver lineup in both the WeatherTech Championship and WEC this year although fell short of confirming Harry Tincknell and Gianmari Bruni, who are both understood to be in line for drives.
In addition to Monza, Road America, Indianapolis and Motul Petit Le Mans, the program would also include the WEC rounds at Fuji and Bahrain.
“For sure it makes sense to have the same drivers in IMSA and WEC because it’s only six races then in total,” Ried said. “It’s good to learn with the same drivers who give the same feedback.”
There remains an outside chance that Proton could debut its first car at Le Mans, although Ried downplayed the chances.
It would come at the sacrifice of one of its four GTE-Am class entries, believed to be the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR-19, which currently has Bruni as the sole nominated driver.
Sportscar365 believes that an agreement is in place between the team and the ACO to allow for a swap of entries.
“What we really learned this year is to be flexible and don’t make any pressure,” Ried said. “We’ll have to see how it’s going.”
Ried ruled out a debut at the 6 Hours of Spa, which fellow Porsche LMDh customer JOTA is planning to undertake despite an extremely tight schedule from the delivery date.
“Porsche confirmed last week, it’s still Week 17 [for deliveries], which is the week of Spa,” he said. “It’s no way to pick it up on Monday and race it on Friday.
“[JOTA] has a lot of experience with prototypes, more than us. But with the hybrid [and everything], I would like to give the guys, the drivers, the mechanics, the engineers the time to prepare it.”
When asked on the number of test days the team will need to prepare for its first race, Ried said ten is the likely target.
“It’s what I expect,” he said. “But if you see how the big manufacturers are testing for one year and are still have issues, ten days [of testing] could be optimistic. But we’ll see.”