The debut season for the new breed of LMDh cars featuring spec hybrid systems in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and IMSA SportsCar Championship has seen the 963 Porsche establish itself as a strong contender. This article examines the factors behind the team’s success and how they have capitalized on running two cars in both series.
Throughout the 2023 season, the 963 Porsche has been a force to be reckoned with, clinching three victories out of the eight races for which GTP cars have been eligible. Despite a skid plank infraction costing them victory at Watkins Glen, drivers Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet find themselves only five points off the leading Action Express Racing Cadillac in the IMSA standings heading into the Petit Le Mans finale.
Unlike their rivals Acura, BMW, and Cadillac, who have been limited to competing in either the WEC or IMSA, Porsche has been able to benefit from running two cars in both series. This unique advantage has allowed the Porsche team to gather valuable data and insights from double the racing, effectively doubling their learning. Tandy highlights the significance of this benefit, describing it as “massively important” to the team’s progress.
Tandy explains that running two cars has helped the team to optimize their package and focus on finding pure performance. At the start of the season, their testing primarily centered around reliability, and they were still in the early stages of figuring out how to extract maximum speed from the cars. However, through their expanded race program, they have gained a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the 963 package and identified the areas that deliver the biggest lap time gains.
An increasingly streamlined relationship between Penske and Porsche has played a pivotal role in the team’s success. The collaborative effort in disseminating information between drivers, engineers, and relevant departments has revolutionized their approach to problem-solving and performance optimization. By identifying the specific needs of the drivers and the car, they have created a more focused and effective work plan that results in a competitive performance on the track.
Tandy emphasizes that the team’s improved performance is not attributed to any fundamental hardware or software updates but rather a refined approach to working with the car manufacturer. By streamlining their efforts and focusing on improving the strong areas of the car, they have managed to consistently achieve better results. Their experience at Indianapolis highlighted the effectiveness of this strategy, as they knew exactly where to concentrate their attention and ultimately secured a Porsche 1-2 finish in the most recent IMSA round.
Looking ahead, Tandy acknowledges that different circuits will favor different cars, and the team’s focus will continue to evolve accordingly. However, the foundation of the team’s success lies in their ability to identify and improve upon their strong points. The early part of the season saw more emphasis on addressing perceived weaknesses, whereas now they have honed their approach to harness their strengths.
The 963 Porsche has made a strong debut in the LMDh category, showcasing impressive performance and securing victories in both the WEC and IMSA championships. The team’s ability to run two cars in both series has been a significant advantage, enabling them to accumulate valuable knowledge and optimize their package. Their streamlined collaboration with Penske and Porsche has also played a crucial role in their success, allowing for better problem-solving and performance enhancement. As the season progresses, the team remains focused on maximizing their strengths and achieving consistent improvement.