Porsche Penske Motorsport is unlikely to bring four LMDh cars to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to Roger Penske, who says the team will need to avoid “overloading” themselves in the first year of the programme.
Porsche will return to prototype racing at the highest level with an LMDh entry in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Thomas Laudenbach, the manufacturer’s head of motorsport, hinted to Sportscar365 in May that Porsche hoped its two IMSA cars would make the voyage across the Atlantic to join the two WEC entries and so complete a four-car Effort to make in the Hypercar class.
However, Penske played down suggestions that all four cars would be in the French endurance classic next year, explaining that the team must be careful not to overspeed too soon.
“I certainly wouldn’t say that’s the case,” Penske said of the potential of a four-car start.
“Everything depends on where we are and the last thing we need to do is overload ourselves, especially when we’re trying to get components [delivered].
“Next Le Mans is coming up, we don’t even have cars to drive as we sit here today, in three months we’ll almost be racing.”
Penske hinted that expanding the number of cars could be considered for 2024, but stressed that the priority is to get the program in good shape before more cars are introduced.
“I would say that [in] In 2024 we could look at that or drive a third car,” he said. “We haven’t committed and I think there’s always debate, but we have to drive two cars and who will drive at that point.
“The nice thing is when you do that with the cars, it becomes seamless. I don’t see four cars next year. If Lamborghini comes in, a lot more people will come in.
“So we want to make sure we’ve refined before we start coming in with more than what we need.”
Two works cars for Daytona debut in 2023
Similarly, numbers within Porsche expect its two season-long WeatherTech championship cars to race only at January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Team Penske’s press release about the cessation of its LMP2 effort referenced a potentially larger number of cars, as the team wrote that it was working “to ensure the four cars are ready to compete at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January to compete in 2023.”
According to Laudenbach, however, this will not be the case.
“We clearly have the plan to field two cars in IMSA and two cars in WEC,” Laudenbach told Sportscar365.
“When we get to Daytona the plan is – if everything goes right – with two cars there. I wouldn’t say any more either.
“We have our program with Penske and there is an opportunity for customers. But that is up to them. We’re ready to sell cars in the first year, which is a tough target that shouldn’t be underestimated.
“It’s quite difficult to prepare customer cars for the first year, but if you look at our history it has always been part of our DNA. Therefore we are happy to provide. I can’t speak for her. The goal for our partnered team with Penske is two cars on the grid.”
Penske also dismissed the idea of four factory GTP appearances at Daytona, saying the team is doing “everything to prepare” but that such a factory presence at the event would be “breaking back”.
A Porsche spokesman indicated that the line in the press release could be interpreted as a pair of works cars plus two cars from customer teams, bringing the total number of Porsches on the grid to four.
Similarly, Laudenbach said there was no incentive for Porsche to send its European cars to Daytona for the Florida 24-hour enduro.
“The question is, why should we do that?” said Lautenbach. “If we already have two cars in the US, why should we take them [WEC] Cars? It’s also about costs.
“This would be an opportunity for someone who wants to race in the WEC and at Daytona; I’m not sure if they would allow it, but we planned to do two and two.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report
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