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Jota WEC Spa victory "proof" of 963 programme, says Porsche

Victory for the privateer Porsche Jota squad in Saturday’s Spa 6 Hours World Endurance Championship round has been hailed as “proof of the 963 programme” by the German manufacturer.

#12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963: Will Stevens, Callum Ilott

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

Urs Kuratle, director of the LMDh project at Porsche, explained that the win for British team’s 963 LMDh shared by Will Stevens and Callum Ilott and the performance of the Proton Competition entry driven by Julien Andlauer and Neel Jani provided validation of the decision to produce customer versions of car. 

“This is proof of the 963 and our decision to build cars for customers,” Kuratle told Autosport after the race.

“It was really nice to see the performance of our customers here at Spa and at the end of the day, it is good for Porsche, good for the WEC and good for the sport.  

“It is also good for Porsche Penske Motorsport because this kind of showing from our customers gives a push to the factory team.”

Kuratle and Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach have consistently highlighted the extra workload involved in introducing customer cars in year one of the 963 in 2023 while stressing that it was one of the key tenets of the programme.

Porsche is so far the only manufacturer involved in the Hypercar class of the WEC and the sister GTP category in the IMSA SportsCar Championship to sell cars to be run by independent teams.

Kuratle conceded that the Proton car, which led more laps than the two factory 963s between them prior to the red flag that interrupted the Belgium WEC round, and the winning Jota entry had the edge on pace over the PPM cars on Saturday. 

#12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963: Will Stevens, Callum Ilott

#12 Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963: Will Stevens, Callum Ilott

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Ferrari was number one today on performance, then it was probably the Cadillac and then our customers and then the PPM cars — that is good for Porsche,” he said.

The #12 Jota Porsche prevailed over the #6 factory car shared by Laurens Vanthoor, Andre Lotterer and Kevin Estre in what was essentially a two-car race for victory after the race was restarted beyond the original ]scheduled finish time.

They gained an advantage on the rest of the Hypercar field because they had pitted just before the race stoppage resulting from the accident involving Earl Bamber in the Ganassi-run Cadillac V-Series.R and Sean Gelael in the #31 WRT BMW M4 GT3 on the Kemmel Straight

Kuratle conceded that Porsche had luck on its side given that the two factory Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercars were running 1-2 at the time the red flag was shown. 

“We needed luck today because we didn’t have the pace of the Ferrari and we got it,” he explained. 

But he also pointed out that the race stoppage was also unfortunate for Proton, which ended up fifth behind the two Ferraris at the chequered flag.  

“Proton was amazing today but they had bad luck,” said Kuratle.

Porsche factory driver Andlauer expressed disappointment with fifth pace after the race. 

“We had everything we needed to have a good result, to at least finish on the podium,” said the Frenchman. 

“We have to be disappointed with the final result.”

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