On the penultimate weekend, the long awaited first race of the LMDh era was ushered in with the 24 Hours of Daytona. The new hybrid prototype looked impressive due to its powerful performance during its debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Yet both Porsche 963 of the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory team was forced to suffer severe setbacks.
After a promising start with Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr manning the respective cockpits of the two Porsche 963 vehicles, the factory team endured technical problems. Though Porsche was in the lead of the 24h of Daytona right then, various defects threw both LMDh race cars behind. Exchanging the high-voltage battery cost the team around starting number 7 (Campbell/Nasr/Christensen) 20 rounds. As the race progressed, additional damage occurred to the cooling system, necessitating another stop in the pit.
The LMDh race car #6 (Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron) delivered a strong performance; Tandy had directed it from the ninth spot in the starting grid to a top placement early on in the race. During the nighttime, Tandy and his team colleagues occasionally took the lead in the race. But a spin by Tandy set the team back by three rounds. On Sunday morning, the crew signaled for another great attack. With top lap times, the Porsche 963 worked its way to the top, but then all hope for a great result was lost: A gearbox defect signaled the end. While the car around Tandy/Jaminet/Cameron was out early, the sister car with Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr and Michael Christensen crossed the finish line after 24 hours on the seventh spot of the GTP class.
"We are disappointed, no question about it," summarizes Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. "The good thing is, we know where we now stand and what we need to work on. We'll now prepare systematically for the next race at Sebring."
"We'll certainly make progress and have many more insights than before. The team never gave up and neither did the drivers. It simply wasn't enough to succeed this time. Hopefully, next time," adds Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7).
After partially extensive repairs, both teams of Porsche Penske Motorsport still collected important points in the IMSA with the about 500 kW (680 HP) strong GTP race cars.
Right now, we need to focus on the positive aspects as quickly as possible – and there is plenty to focus on!
In the GTD category, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R remained without a chance for victory due to its unfavourable classification in the Balance of Performance (BoP). The new Porsche GT3 vehicle was so heavily trimmed in engine performance, that the seven Porsche vehicles in total in both classes remained without a chance. For the race in the GT category, the various manufacturers are brought onto an equal level with the so-called Balance of Performance.
"Everyone attempted to make the most out of the situation. Seven customer cars started, six saw the chequered flag – that alone is a great debut for the new 911 GT3 R," comments Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Porsche faces forward for the race weekend in Sebring. The second run of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starts on March 18, 2023. A day before that, the Porsche 963 will debut at the same place in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
1. Acura ARX-06 #60, 783 rounds
2. Acura ARX-06 #10, 783 rounds
3. Cadillac V-LMDh #01, 783 rounds
7. Porsche 963 #7, 749 rounds
Porsche 963 #6, 700 rounds
1. MacNeil/Juncadella/Gounon/Engel, Mercedes AMG GT3 #79, 729 rounds
2. Garcia/Taylor/Milner, Corvette C8.R GTD #3, 729 rounds
3. Hawksworth/Barnicoat/Conway, Lexus RC-F GT3 #14, 729 rounds
5. Bachler/Pilet/Vanthoor, Porsche 911 GT3 R #9, 728 rounds
6. Kvamme/Estep/Magnussen/Hart, Porsche 911 GT3 R #53, 717 rounds
1. De Angelis/Sörensen/James/Turner, Aston Martin Vantage GT3 #27, 729 rounds
2. Potter/Lally/Pumpelly/Thiimm, Aston Martin Vantage GT3 #44, 729 rounds
3. Iribe/Schandorff/Millroy/Kirchhöfer, McLaren 720S GT3 #70, 729 rounds
9. Hardwick/Heylen/Robichon/Olsen, Porsche 911 GT3 R #16, 723 rounds
11. Brynjolfsson/Hindman/Root/Estre, Porsche 911 GT3 R #77, 719 rounds
14. Hyett/Jeannette/Priaulx/Tincknell, Porsche 911 GT3 R #80, 710 rounds
16. Metni/van Berlo/Evans/Andlauer, Porsche 911 GT3 R #91, 699 rounds
DNF. Brule/Udell/Davis/Bleekemolen, Porsche 911 GT3 R #92, 278 rounds