For the fourth race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Porsche Penske Motorsport and Customer Racing Teams are bound for the Golden State of California once more. This time, they are off to Laguna Seca – a race track completely unknown to all GTP vehicles.
The Porsche Penske Motorsport Team will enter the next IMSA race with newfound confidence. After the breathtaking and thrilling race in Long Beach, the team is in the lead of the driver championship with Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet, and the Porsche 963 #6. So, it is only natural that the team wants to build on that success and aim for more spots on the podium. Still, the team remains down-to-earth. Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport, comments, "We’re well aware that we still have some progress to make in terms of the optimal preparation and setup of our cars. This was obvious at the previous FIA World Endurance Championship round in Spa."
When it comes to opportunities in Laguna Seca, all the teams of the GTP class are in the same situation: So far, none of the teams could test their GTP vehicles in Lacuna Seca, making them all dependent on previous experiences with other vehicles and track data.
The GTP class brings additional changes: For the first time in the 2023 season, the JDC-Miller MotorSports Team will be participating with a Porsche 963 – making it the first Customer Racing Team that is racing with a Porsche LMDh vehicle on the IMSA tracks. This keeps the overall victory for Porsche in sights.
Facing challenges with a smile.
Until now, the JDC-Miller MotorSports Team participated in the LMP3 class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and managed to conquer the third spot of the class ranking. But it was always clear cut for the team that they would switch to the Porsche 963 the moment they received it. The time came on Thursday, May 4 2023: The Porsche 963 for JDC-Miller MotorSports was rolled out in Weissach, just in time for the IMSA race in Laguna Seca.
The chosen drivers for the new Porsche 963 #5, Tijmen van der Helm and former Porsche factory driver Mike Rockenfeller, are facing the challenge to race the vehicle for the first time for the fourth race of the season. But the team faces the challenge with a smile. "I have no doubt that we will be competitive as a team. I look forward to the challenge and opportunity," says Tijmen van der Helm. Mike Rockenfeller is also happily anticipating the race, "I am confident the JDC-Miller MotorSports team is on a very steep learning curve and will compete with the GTP teams very quickly."
Ready for the Corkscrew.
The teams can expect a diversified race with various additional challenges. Beside the previously untested GTP vehicles, the track surroundings also offer some twists: The asphalt offers little traction, demanding even more technical finesse from the drivers after a tire change. Adding to that, the 3.6-Kilometer-long track is surrounded by copious amounts of sand that is blown onto the road, and complicates steering for the vehicles.
The track layout also offers some challenges: It begins inconscpicuous with a long-stretched curve directly after the start and finish line, ending in a hairpin turn. The moment vehicles get past this, they are directly brought into an almost 90-degree right turn. A short stretch of acceleration later, the track goes into another right turn – this one permitting a higher cornering speed. Another accelerating straight follows, ending in another left turn that leads into a gentle upward slope. Here, drivers can push the performance of their vehicles before heading into a left turn and a straight. What follows is the infamous Corkscrew passage – a right-left-right combination of curves so unique, that Porsche immortalized it as well on its own racetrack in Leipzig. The following turn nine is considered to be one of the greatest challenges of the track due to the high acceleration speed out of the Corkscrew and the incline. After a right turn, it goes straight ahead into a tight left turn that demands one of the lowest speeds on the track, and opens back up to the start-finish straight.
The race in Laguna Seca will run for 2:40 hours and take place on Sunday. Fans wanting to witness the event can do so via livestream from 9.10 p.m. CEST and cheer for the Porsche Penske Motorsport Team, JDC-Miller MotorSports and the Customer Racing Teams Pfaff Motorsports, Wright Motorsports, AO Racing and Kelly-Moss with Riley.
We are keeping our fingers crossed for another win!