Porsche Penske Motorsport aims to defend the championship lead in the IMSA prototype class
Motul Course de Monterey powered by Hyundai N, 4. Lauf IMSA WeatherTech Championship 2023 - Foto: Gruppe C Photography
Back in the States
The Le Mans debacle is over, and now it’s time for Porsche Penske Motorsport to head to round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as the leader of the team classification. In the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen in the US state of New York, the factory squad aims to extend its championship lead and propel Porsche to the top of the manufacturer’s standings.
Preview to Watkins Glen
Porsche Penske Motorsport fields two Porsche 963 at Watkins Glen, with the customer team JDC-Miller MotorSports campaigning one identical hybrid prototype in the top GTP class. In the two GTD categories, four partner teams run a total of six Porsche 911 GT3 R. After scoring top results at the Californian circuits of Long Beach and Laguna Seca recently, the works drivers Mathieu Jaminet from France and Nick Tandy from the UK moved to the top of the leaderboard in the drivers’ classification. The pair in the No. 6 Porsche 963 is determined to defend their lead in the championship at Watkins Glen. Felipe Nasr from Brazil and Australian Matt Campbell share driving duties in the sister car.
The No. 7 entry secured the first pole position for Porsche Penske Motorsport in Laguna Seca. In the manufacturers’ classification, Porsche currently ranks second. In the long and illustrious history of the racetrack in the densely forested area of America‘s northeast, the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart has achieved eleven overall victories.
The 6-hour race in the US state of New York has its roots in the Grand Prix Watkins Glen, which was contested on public roads for the first time in 1948. Eight years later, it switched to a purpose-built closed racetrack named Watkins Glen International. From 1961 to 1980, Formula One was contested regularly on the 5.47-kilometer course. At the same time, endurance racing became a regular fixture at the circuit, which features eleven turns and spectacular uphill and downhill passages. To date, Porsche has notched up eleven victories at Watkins Glen.
The course nestles harmoniously into the forested and undulating landscape of the Finger Lakes, which lie close to the Canadian border and are extremely popular with tourists. Fast and flowing with dramatic elevation changes make it a favorite among drivers. Like on almost all North American racetracks, Watkins Glen has very few run-off zones. This adds to the thrill for drivers and spectators alike. Alongside long-distance races at Daytona, Sebring and the season finale at Road Atlanta, the 6-hour event counts towards the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. This special classification includes the four longest races of the season.
Mathieu Jaminet from France and Nick Tandy from the UK share the cockpit of Porsche Penske Motorsport’s No. 6 car. The Englishman won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. In April, the pair clinched the maiden victory for the Porsche 963 at Long Beach. Scoring second at the previous race in Laguna Seca, Jaminet/Tandy moved to the top of the drivers’ standings. The crew in the No. 7 sister car, Felipe Nasr from Brazil and Australian Matt Campbell, currently ranks sixth. Campbell achieved the first pole position for the Porsche 963 at Laguna Seca.
The customer teams
The Porsche 963 fielded by the customer team JDC-Miller MotorSports tackles the top GTP class. The squad from Minneapolis put in a strong drive at its debut in Laguna Seca and crossed the finish line in seventh place. The experienced German driver Mike Rockenfeller and the young Dutchman Tijmen van der Helm share driving duties in the yellow No. 5 hybrid prototype.
In the GTD-Pro class, Pfaff Motorsports fields one Porsche 911 GT3 R. The defending champion of the top GT category currently ranks third in the championship after a win in Sebring and podium finishes in Long Beach and Laguna Seca. The No. 9 racer from the Canadian squad is helmed by Austrian Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet from France. In the GTD category, three customer teams field a total of five GT3 cars from Weissach. The Laguna Seca class winners Kellymoss with Riley and the Wright Motorsports outfit each field two vehicles, with AO Racing running one car.
Porsche GT4 e-Performance demonstrates its potential
As part of the support program of the IMSA race weekend in Watkins Glen, spectators will not only be treated to two races of the hotly contested Porsche Carrera Cup North America: Porsche brand ambassador Jörg Bergmeister will turn demo laps in the Porsche GT4 e-Performance on Friday (June 23) and Sunday (June 25). The overall Daytona winner and Le Mans class victor will push the all-electric test car to the limit. The aim is to underline the power of the potential customer racer of the future. The demo run of the impressive concept car is part of the GT4 e-Performance World Tour. The vehicle has already made appearances in Goodwood (United Kingdom), Leipzig (Germany), Austin, Los Angeles and Atlanta (all USA) as well as at the Race of Champions in Sweden.
Overview of vehicles and drivers
GTP class (Porsche 963):
JDC-Miller MotorSports #5: Mike Rockenfeller (D) / Tijmen van der Helm (NL)