Porsche Penske Motorsport’s third entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been characterized as “a stretch” in resources and logistics by Porsche’s factory LMDh director Urs Kuratle, who in turn expressed confidence in executing the expanded effort.
The German manufacturer will have a three-car factory top class effort for the first time since its maiden Le Mans win with the Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2015, with PPM fielding an additional Porsche 963 alongside its two full season FIA World Endurance Championship entries.
Kuratle explained the decision was “completely independent” of the the team’s mixed results in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which preceded the entry request deadline for the French endurance classic.
“If you compete and if you are going to Le Mans, the more cars you have, the better you are off,” Kuratle told Sportscar365.
“We were careful by deciding this because we were not quite sure how we could manage it in terms of the parts, the delivery situation, all these things.
“Once we were confident we could do it… It’s still a stretch for us to do it but now we are confident we can achieve it.”
While Porsche Penske will rely on resources from its parallel IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program at Le Mans, Kuratle said it remains undecided whether it will utilize one of its GTP class chassis as the third race car in France.
He said: “You’d want to have a spare chassis as well and there will be some chassis and bits and pieces from the IMSA side that will be brought over to Europe. That much is sure.
“Whether it’s one of the actual chassis we’re running in the IMSA series, we seriously don’t know right now.
“It’s something we take as we go because the chassis are there.”
Kuratle explained one of the biggest challenges is the logistics involved with freighting the IMSA-based equipment to Europe and back between rounds.
The WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round in mid-May is three weeks before the Le Mans test day, while GTP load-in for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is just ten days after the twice-around-the-clock enduro.
“To bring it over to Europe after all of the tests we planned, etc and then to bring it back again… It’s a stretch for us but it’s the same for everybody who runs Le Mans,” Kuratle said.
“Cadillac are in the same boat by doing this. It’s also worth to put a lot of effort into a third car at Le Mans because the more you have the bigger the chances.
“With the LMP1 program we only had a third car once and it won [Le Mans] in 2015.
“I’m not 100 percent sure but I hear some statistics that quite often the third car won, but we’re not that superstitious!”
Felipe Nasr is so far the only confirmed driver for the No. 75 Porsche, although Kuratle reaffirmed the lineup will be made up entirely of its full-season WeatherTech Championship driving squad.
It means that the Brazilian will be joined by Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet and/or Matt Campbell.
“It’s one of the decisions we have to do,” Kuratle said. “One thing is for sure, the drivers will come from our original driver roster.
“There’s no reason to change. It’s [two of the three] we have to decide. But we want to keep the doors open as long as possible.”
Kuratle said the driver who misses out on the race seat will be the team’s reserve driver across the three Hypercar class entries.