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Porsche says one-team approach "an advantage" to WEC and IMSA efforts

Porsche believes that its one-team approach to competing in both the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship with Penske is paying dividends.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Kevin Estre, Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor

Shameem Fahath

Thomas Laudenbach, the German manufacturer’s motorsport boss, explained that having Porsche Penske Motorsport masterminding the two factory campaigns has played a key role in the upturn in the fortunes of the 963 LMDh programme that began in the second half of last year and have continued into 2024. 

“I think it is an advantage that it is one organisation, even though we have PPM in Mooresville [running the IMSA 963s] and PPM in Mannheim [running the WEC cars],” said Laudenbach ahead of this weekend’s Qatar 1812Km, the first race of this year’s WEC. 

Laudenbach explained that the two IMSA wins at the end of 2023, its race-leading performance at the Fuji WEC round in September, the Daytona 24 Hours victory this January and now its pace so far at Qatar “clearly shows that we made the right decisions in the way we went, joining the Penske organisation with Roger and taking a global approach”.

“It was a long-term decision and I really hope that we can start to harvest,” he continued.

“It can be easier to look for a quick win, but sometimes you have to invest.”

Roger Penske, who is also in Qatar, added: “We wouldn’t be where we are today if we had two organisations. 

“There is complete transparency, so if we are working on reliability in the USA we are working on reliability for the WEC as well, and vice versa.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

“We can be testing in the US and we can be testing in Europe, and we can cross-pollinate, which should give us a step forward.”

Laudenbach stressed the challenges faced by Porsche by its approach in signing Penske to run both programmes, which is known not to have been in its original plan.

“For sure we didn’t make our life easy putting everything together, building up Mannheim, doing everything from scratch and [producing] customers car at the same time.”

The Mannheim base only became operational after the start of last year’s WEC and the team running the cars only came together for the first time in the weeks leading up to the Sebring 1000 Miles season-opener in March. 

Laudenbach emphasised the effects of the privateer 963 programme, which has put a further five cars on the grid alongside the PPM entries across the WEC and IMSA. 

He suggested that if Porsche could have predicted the complexities of developing an LMDh hybrid it might not decided to bring customer cars on stream in year one of the programme. 

“I think we would not have provided customer cars in the first year,” said Laudenbach. 

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“That does not mean it was not the right decision to provide customer cars, don’t get me wrong. 

“But doing everything at the same time, we clearly learned that this was tough. 

“If we had to do it again, we would probably do it a year later. 

“But we are proud of what we have done because no other manufacturer is providing real customer cars.”

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