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Porsche wants LMDh factory rivals to build customer cars

Porsche has outlined a hope that its rivals in the LMDh class will follow its lead and make customer cars available for the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963: Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy, Dane Cameron, #10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz, Brendon Hartley

Thomas Laudenbach, head of Porsche Motorsport, believes that the supply of LMDh prototypes to privateer teams by multiple manufacturers is essential to the long-term health of the WEC and IMSA.

So far, Porsche is the only one of the four marques that have built LMDh machinery for year one of the category to make its car available to independent teams.

Four examples of its new 963 LMDh hybrid have been sold and are due to come on stream in WEC and IMSA through the 2023 season.

“When we took the decision [to build an LMDh prototype], it was clear we would bring a customer programme, that is part of the DNA of Porsche Motorsport,” Laudenbach told Autosport.

“Right now we are the only ones and I hope other manufacturers will follow.

“I am confident one of the others will follow, which would be great and one parameter for a good long-term future of the series.

“I am long enough in this business to know that manufacturers come and go from series and I think it is a real stabilising factor if you have customers.”

He outlined a scenario whereby a manufacturer might withdraw as a factory, but continue to support independent teams running its chassis.

None of the other three makes on the grid for the Daytona 24 Hours IMSA season-opener last month, Acura, Cadillac and BMW, have committed to customer programmes.

Each has stated that it is undecided on whether to proceed with the sale of cars to privateers in the future.

Acura, which won Daytona with Michael Shank Racing, has admitted that the sale of its ARX-06 to privateers has yet to be fully discussed.

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

#60 Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb Agajanian Acura ARX-06: Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

David Salters, president of the Honda Performance Development organisation that masterminds Acura’s race programmes, told Autosport: “It’s too early to say and we haven’t thought too much about it.

“We have a full works effort with two marvellous works teams, MSR and Wayne Taylor Racing, but this car demands that - it is a complicated car.

“Right now my opinion is that this is a works-level car; maybe in the future it could transition to customer stuff.”

Acura did not make customer versions of its ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international that raced across the 2018-22 seasons available, despite approaches from teams.

Cadillac did sell examples of its DPi-V.R, but whether it will do so with its V-LMDh is still up in the air.

A spokesman explained that there were a number of factors that needed to be considered before a decision could be made on whether it would bolster its factory assaults on the WEC and IMSA.

These include parts supply and the production schedule at its chassis partner Dallara.

The expansion of BMW’s programme with the M Hybrid V8 from an IMSA-only campaign into the WEC next year could encompass customer cars.

Andreas Roos, boss of BMW M Motorsport, revealed that the sale of M Hybrids to independents as early as 2024 remains a possibility.

“Maybe for 2024 we can have a closer look if customer teams could come in IMSA or WEC, but at the moment nothing is confirmed,” he said.

“For sure we get quite some requests for our car from customers teams.”

Lamborghini and Alpine, which will debut LMDhs in 2024, have both left the door open to selling cars.

The four Porsche 963s are set to be delivered to customers at the end of April, which would in theory allow Jota and Proton to race at the Spa WEC round on 29 April and Proton and JDC-Miller to compete in the IMSA race at Laguna Seca on 14 May.

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