Porsche’s new 911 GT3-R is on track to make its worldwide debut next January in IMSA competition as part of a potential factory supported effort in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Speaking to Sportscar365, Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser confirmed that the heavily revised GT3 model, based off the new road-going 911 GT3 RS, will not race this year, with all efforts now around a debut in Florida next January.
“That’s the idea,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “If you ask me, Daytona is a little bit too early in the year but we’re working on it.
“[Right now] we’re [focusing on] testing, testing, testing, refinement and reliability. This is our target for the car.”
The car, which began testing last summer, underwent a major engine change with the adoption of a new four-liter flat-six that’s now direct-injected and features a new crank housing.
Walliser feels it was the right direction to take, particularly with the car being built for its large customer base.
“It was a late decision in the project but I think the right decision because we are now close to the street car,” he said. “We have to also look at run time costs for our customers, so we have a production-based engine as the old engine was running out, that was well known.”
The engine change altered Porsche’s initial plan of debuting the car this year, leaving the German manufacturer to focus on preparations for what could be a significant effort in next year’s season-opening TUDOR United SportsCar Championship round.
“We’re concentrating on testing and building new cars and bring it to the customers,” Walliser said. “Shipping them to the U.S. will be a big logistics behind it, in order to have the spare parts ready [for Daytona].
Walliser expects at least four to five new 911 GT3-Rs on the grid at Daytona, with priority given to full-season entrants, although there’s a possibility of one or two additional cars for the race as well.
It adds up for what could be a massive debut, which may see an increased level of factory support for the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
“You know we have a long history in supporting customers [in the U.S.],” Walliser said. “We’re figuring out now and are in discussions with customers on what will be their programs.
“For sure, as Porsche Motorsport, we always support the technical side and with [works] drivers and so-on. If it’s a more factory based support, then we have to decide. It depends a little bit on the customer side.”
As for Porsche’s GTE contender, Walliser said no decision has been made on whether a new car will be built for the new-for-2016 regulations, or rather the existing 911 RSR would receive the necessary performance and safety updates required for next year.
“We’re taking our time to see what we do,” he said. “We’re checking at the moment on what has to be done to have the car ready in 2016. There’s now ongoing discussions with the sanctioning bodies.
“We then have to focus between the markets. Will it be more U.S. or more WEC?”
Walliser said it’s too early to make any indications on whether they will continue with factory GTLM/GTE efforts in both the TUDOR Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship next year.