Daytona winner Porsche targets next endurance race victory with the 963

Preview, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Round 2, Sebring, Florida

* Porsche Penske Motorsport heads to Sebring as the championship leader
* Frédéric Makowiecki and Matt Campbell reinforce driver crews
* Proton Competition and JDC-Miller MotorSports customer-run 963 compete
* AO Racing contests GTD Pro class with the Porsche 911 GT3 R
* Porsche tackles the 12-hour race in Florida as the record winner

Porsche Penske Motorsport is determined to continue its impressive streak in the 2024 season. After clinching wins at the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Daytona and at the first race of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Qatar, the factory team now heads to Sebring with two Porsche 963. At the tradition-steeped 12-hour classic in Central Florida, full season drivers will be supported by their “works” driver teammates Frédéric Makowiecki from France and Australia’s Matt Campbell. The customer teams Proton Competition and JDC-Miller MotorSports will tackle the top GTP category with two more 691 HP Porsche 963 race cars. In the two GT classes, a total of four Porsche 911 GT3 R from seasoned customer squads will face fierce competition.

Atlanta. With 18 victories, Porsche is the undisputed recordholder for victories in the legendary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Central Florida. After its success at the season opener in Daytona, the works team travels to Sebring leading the manufacturers’, team and drivers’ standings. Porsche also currently leads the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup manufacturers’ standings. This additional championship focuses the longest races of the season in Sebring and Daytona as well as six-hour events in Watkins Glen and Indianapolis and the 10-hour season finale, “Petit Le Mans” at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

“Our team has gained a lot of confidence on both sides of the Atlantic at the start of the 2024 season,” grins Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “We can’t afford to rest on our laurels following our successes in Daytona and most recently the FIA WEC opener in Qatar. The team, car and driver squad are at the absolute top of their game – we’ve clearly shown that. Nevertheless, Sebring poses a serious challenge. The track characteristics are very different from Daytona or Qatar. Sebring is always a test of stamina for both man and machine – nothing comes for free there. We have to work with total concentration, be strategically clever and do a flawless job.”

“It was fantastic to start the 2024 season with wins in both the IMSA Championship and the World Endurance Championship,” explains Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “We’re relieved to see that our measures to improve the team processes and the car are working. Due to the unique features of the Sebring circuit, the cards will be reshuffled. Despite our recent successes, we’re not the favorites at the starting line. Anything is possible in the IMSA endurance races – we saw that last year. Despite a lack of pace, we were suddenly on course for victory shortly before the checkered flag, only to lose it all. The pendulum can swing so quickly in either direction, we’re acutely aware of that.”

“Porsche Penske Motorsport had a dream start to the 2024 racing season,” states Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. “As we focus towards the second round of the IMSA championship, the 12 Hours of Sebring brings a different set of challenges. The start of 2024 shows that our hard work in the winter months paid off, but racing never stops and our competitors are working hard. We have taken learnings from Daytona and Qatar and had strong test days in Sebring so there’s no reason we can’t continue to raise our game and strive for another race win. Our team and drivers are looking forward to riding the bumps with our 963s for twelve hours and pushing for the top step of the podium.“

The race.
The revered endurance race in Sebring is considered the ultimate endurance challenge for man and machine and also the perfect preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At no other circuit on the racing calendar does the technology have to withstand such high loads. One reason is the nature of the storied racetrack on the former military airfield. About a third of the racetrack consists of concrete slabs, with the hefty bumps posing a unique challenge. Due to this special feature, the racetrack is often mentioned on social media with the hashtag #RespectTheBumps.

The 12-hour race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on the 3.74-mile (6.02-kilometer) Sebring International Raceway will be held for the 72nd time. With 18 overall wins, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at this long-distance classic. The last triumph for a racing car from Weissach, Germany was in 2008. Timo Bernhard from Germany and the two Frenchmen Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard won at the wheel of the Penske team’s Porsche RS Spyder against an armada of more powerful LMP1 prototypes. With a win in Sebring, the Penske team would achieve another milestone. To date, Porsche’s American partner team has notched up a total of 99 victories and 99 pole positions in sports car racing.

The works cars.
Three works, or factory, drivers will crew each of the two Porsche 963 race cars fielded by Porsche Penske Motorsport in the 12-hour race. Mathieu Jaminet from France and Nick Tandy from Great Britain will share the wheel of the No. 6 car with Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki. Felipe Nasr from Brazil and Dane Cameron from Glen Ellen, California now living in Mooresville, North Carolina, will receive reinforcement from the Daytona and Bathurst winner Matt Campbell in the No. 7 sister car. The Australian also recently clinched the first pole position for the Porsche 963 in the World Endurance Championship in Qatar.

The customer teams.
In the top GTP class, the customer teams JDC-Miller MotorSports and Proton Competition field one Porsche 963 each. In the German team’s No. 5 car, works driver Gianmaria Bruni from Italy will share the cockpit with former Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer from France and Belgian Alessio Picariello. In the JDC-Miller MotorSports car (No. 85), Tijmen van der Helm from the Netherlands and the seasoned pro Richard Westbrook (United Kingdom) will be the regular drivers. They receive support at the endurance race in Florida from Phil Hanson (United Kingdom).

AO Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R will contest the GTD Pro category. Former Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich from Germany and Briton Sebastian Priaulx are the regular drivers in the No. 77 car. In Sebring, they can count on support from works driver Michael Christensen from Denmark. In the GTD class, the customer teams Andretti Motorsports, MDK Motorsports and Wright Motorsports will each enter one of the GT3 racing cars from the German sports car manufacturer. Klaus Bachler, among others, will compete for MDK. The Austrian recently won the LMGT3 class in Qatar at the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R from Manthey PureRxcing.

Mathieu Jaminet, Driver, No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963.
“We had a long break after Daytona – I’m glad things are getting underway again. Unfortunately, our number 6 car didn’t have such a spectacular start to the season as the sister car did. We weren’t able to finish on the podium and score as many points so we still have a score to settle. Hopefully, everything runs smoothly in Sebring. We’ll compete knowing that our car and our team are well-prepared and in top form. Now, we’re ready to reap our well-earned rewards.”

Felipe Nasr, Driver, No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963.
“We’d very much like to have a say in the overall victory again at Sebring. During our test in February, we ran through numerous setup variants. That was important and proved beneficial. The track is famous for its hard bumps. It puts us drivers under enormous strain and also puts the hardware under more stress than any other venue. We’re arriving at Sebring in top form. Our package is strong, and so is our driver line-up. I’m full of anticipation and confidence. We’ll tackle this next task step by step and with total focus.”

Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 5 Proton Competition Porsche 963.
“On the one hand, I get slightly worried when I think about Sebring. Unlike all the other teams, we skipped the test – that’s a considerable disadvantage on such a unique circuit. On the other hand, I’m really looking forward to the next race and my drive in the Porsche 963. The car is simply marvelous. We want to get as close as possible to the level of the works team. In Sebring, I’ll be sharing the car with Alessio Picariello again. Julien Andlauer will also be on board for the first time. Both of them are young and fast. I think we’re very well positioned in this respect.”

Richard Westbrook, Driver, No. 85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963.
“As one of the great classics of international endurance racing, Sebring is one of my favorite races on the IMSA calendar – there’s always a very special atmosphere there. The tradition and history are truly palpable. I won at Sebring in 2013 and came very close to another success in 2022 when I finished second with JDC-Miller. The track poses a huge challenge for both the car and driver, and the setup often gives the engineers a headache. Our tests at Sebring a few weeks ago were successful so that makes us confident. We’ve also enjoyed following Porsche and its customer teams’ recent successes. We’d like to contribute to continuing the great run so far this year.”

Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 77 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It’s great to finally be taking part in the 12-hour race at Sebring again. Our performance in Daytona was strong. We certainly didn’t have the very best car over a flying lap, but it looked much better over the distance. Second place was the reward for perfect work. We’ve learned a lot and now we want to put this into practice at Sebring. Hopefully, we’ll be good for a class win. I’m already looking forward to my second race in AO Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R.”

An overview of the drivers and teams
GTP class (Porsche 963):
Proton Competition No. 5:
Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) / Alessio Picariello (Belgium) / Julien Andlauer (France)
Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 6: Mathieu Jaminet (France) / Nick Tandy (UK) / Frédéric Makowiecki (France)
Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 7: Dane Cameron (USA) / Felipe Nasr (Brazil) / Matt Campbell (Australia)
JDC-Miller MotorSports #85: Tijmen van der Helm (Netherlands) / Richard Westbrook (UK) / Phil Hanson (UK)

GTD Pro class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
AO Racing No. 77:
Laurin Heinrich (Germany) / Sebastian Priaulx (UK) / Michael Christensen (Denmark)

GTD class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
Andretti Motorsports No. 43:
Jarett Andretti (USA) / Gabby Chaves (Columbia-USA) / Scott Hargrove (Canada)
MDK Motorsports No. 86: Anders Fjordbach (Denmark) / Kerong Li (China) / Klaus Bachler (Austria)
Wright Motorsports No. 120: Adam Adelson (USA) / Elliott Skeer (USA) / Jan Heylen (Belgium)

The schedule (local time)
Thursday, March 14

10:05 am – 11:35 am: Free practice 1
3:05 pm – 4:35 pm: Free practice 2
7:45 pm – 9:15 pm: Free practice 3

Friday, March 15
12:20 pm – 12:35 pm: Qualifying GTD class
1:10 pm – 1:25 pm: Qualifying GTP class

Saturday, March 16
9:40 am – 9:40 pm: Race

Porsche’s outright victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
1960 – Gendebien/Herrmann (Porsche RS-60)
1968 – Siffert/Herrmann (Porsche 907)
1971 – Elford/Larrousse (Porsche 917 K)
1973 – Haywood/Gregg/Helmick (Porsche Carrera RSR)
1976 – Holbert/Keyser (Porsche Carrera RSR)
1977 – Dyer/Frisselle (Porsche Carrera RSR)
1978 – Redman/Mendez/Garretson (Porsche 935)
1979 – Akin/McFarlin/Woods (Porsche 935)
1980 – Fitzpatrick/Barbour (Porsche 935 K3)
1981 – Leven/Haywood/Holbert (Porsche 935/80)
1982 – Paul Sr./Paul Jr. (Porsche 935 JLP-3)
1983 – Baker/Mullen/Nierop (Porsche 934)
1984 – Heyer/de Narvaéz/Johansson (Porsche 935 J)
1985 – Wollek/Foyt (Porsche 962)
1986 – Akin/Stuck/Gartner (Porsche 962)
1987 – Rahal/Mass (Porsche 962)
1988 – Ludwig/Stuck (Porsche 962)
2008 – Bernhard/Dumas/Collard (Porsche RS Spyder)

  • Image courtesy of Porsche.