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"Too early" to know if LMDh car can win in WEC after first pole - Penske

Porsche believes it is premature to claim that an LMDh prototype is ready to score a first World Endurance Championship victory ahead of the Le Mans Hypercars.

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

Shameem Fahath

Porsche Penske Motorsport boss Jonathan Diuguid made the claim after Matt Campbell continued the German manufacturer’s run of form through the pre-season Prologue test and then free practice by taking pole position for this weekend’s Qatar 1812Km season-opener.

Diuguid was asked after Campbell took the first pole position in the WEC for an LMDh car if one could now win in the series.

“Ask me at Saturday at 9pm, and I’ll let you know — it’s definitely too early to say,” he replied.

“We’re an endurance racing championship and long-run pace is what matters.

“But starting at the front doesn’t hurt, and we feel confident about where we are.

“We’ve been competitive throughout the Prologue and the [practice] sessions so it gives us positive feelings for the race for sure.

“We feel like we can compete with Toyota and Ferrari, the LMHs, tomorrow.”

Diuguid suggested that Porsche has been happy with its long-run preparations and the pace it has shown during the two-day Prologue and free practice.

“It’s difficult to judge, but the drivers are really confident — we feel confidence with the the pace we’ve shown in practice to fight for the win,” he said.

Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport

Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

The German-based WEC arm of the PPM organisation that also masterminds Porsche’s factory campaign in the IMSA SportsCar Championship has also made a step forward operationally since last year, according to Diuguid.

“Nothing is ever going to be perfect but we think we’ve made large strides in that area, for sure,” he said.

“We’ve put a lot of processes in place, and we’ve got regular pit crew practice two or three days a week, regular workouts.”

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Diuguid also stressed the significance of the arrival of Jan Lange from Joest Racing as general manager of the Mannheim-based WEC team.

Lange was formerly operations manager on the Audi LMP1 programme at Joest from 2013 until the German manufacturer’s withdrawal from the WEC in 2016 and then worked on its Mazda Daytona Prototype international programme before joining PPM ahead of last November’s 2023 WEC finale.

“Jan brings a lot of experience from Joest and has done a great job,” explained Diuguid.

“The biggest thing is that he is creating a team atmosphere there in Mannheim and bringing everyone together.”

The Qatar 1812Km, which will run to a maximum duration of 10 hours, begins at 11:00 local time on Saturday.

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