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IMSA Petit Le Mans Road Atlanta

How focusing on its strong suits has helped Penske optimise the Porsche 963

Nick Tandy says Penske Porsche Motorsport has derived "more of a gain in performance" from focusing on the strong suits of its 963 LMDh than improving its weak points.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsports, Porsche 963, GTP: Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy

In the first season for the new breed of LMDh cars featuring spec hybrid systems in the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship - in which they compete as GTP cars - the 963 has proven a strong contender.

It has won three of the eight races for which GTP cars have been eligible in 2023, with Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet just five points off the leading Action Express Racing Cadillac in the IMSA standings heading to this weekend's Petit Le Mans finale despite a skid plank infraction costing them victory at Watkins Glen.

Insight: The winner takes all contenders for IMSA's first hybrid crown

While rivals Acura and BMW have been limited to competing in IMSA this year and Cadillac has only run a single car in the WEC - which it announced this week will not be added to next year - Porsche has benefitted from running two cars in both series and put together its strongest performance of the year relative to Le Mans Hypercars by leading Toyota for much of the way at Fuji last time out.

Tandy and Jaminet led a Porsche 1-2 in the most recent IMSA round at Indianapolis, with the Briton welcoming the "massively important" benefit of having additional cars that are "effectively doubling our learning".

Speaking to Autosport, Tandy said this had manifested itself most effectively in understanding how to optimise its package having focused before the season on reliability.

He believes that the team has now figured out the strengths and weaknesses of the 963 package and understood what derives the biggest laptime gain.

"What has really helped us recently is we have double the racing and when you go to the racetrack it’s all about finding pure performance," he said.

Podium: Race winner #6 Team Penske Porsche 963: Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet

Podium: Race winner #6 Team Penske Porsche 963: Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet

Photo by: Tyler Clemmensen

"This is something that we personally lacked at the start of the year. We’d done lots of testing but a lot of it was based around reliability stuff and coming into Daytona and Sebring we were still really at the beginning of trying to figure out how to make the cars go fast.

"I wouldn’t say there’s been any fundamental thing that we’ve found with the car from a hardware or a software point of view.

"We’re working better at the racetrack with the manufacturer, figuring out from a race team point of view to work with the car manufacturer and make everything as we want to progress from a laptime point of view.

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He added that an increasingly streamlined relationship between Penske and Porsche in disseminating information "from what the driver requires on track and what the car requires on track through the relevant departments, figuring out who needs to work on what and how we work about spreading this workload" had been "the biggest change I’ve seen".

"It’s streamlining all this and this is what’s basically helped us," he said.

"We haven’t found half a second of pace, what we’ve found is how to consistently work on the strong areas of the car and get it in a decent window for a race situation.

"We went to Indy and we knew where we should focus our attention as such. And this paid dividends.

"Of course, we’re going to go to different circuits that are going to suit different cars. And we’ve really focused on where we think that we can improve our strong points whereas at the start of the season there was probably more focus on working on where we thought the car was weak.

"We probably found more of a gain in performance through working to our strong points."

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