Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#7), Felipe Nasr (BR), Matt Campbell (AUS), Michael Christensen (DK), Porsche Penske Motorsport (#6), Nick Tandy (UK), Mathieu Jaminet (F), Dane Cameron (USA)
Edited by Rex McAfee
Get Ready for the Daytona 24
If there were ever two words that go together in motorsports, it’s Porsche and Daytona. This weekend, the 24-hour test of man and machine will once again take place, and the new GTP class is bound to keep Porsche fans engaged from start to finish. The 61st running of the endurance classic in Florida gets underway on Saturday, 28 January, at 1:40 pm local time (7:40 pm CET). A quick look at their overall wins reminds Porsche fans that we’re due for another win on top of the podium:
The two Porsche 963s fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad have wrapped up their first qualifying session in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with varying degrees of success. In the GTD classes, the seven Porsche 911 GT3 R secured only mediocre grid positions. Felipe Nasr from Brazil planted Porsche Penske Motorsport’s No. 7 car on P2 – a mere 0.083 seconds off pole position. His brand colleague Nick Tandy, however, was hampered by bad luck in the No. 6 car. On the way to setting pole, the UK driver lost the rear of his 963 while braking for the Bus Stop chicane and hit the tyre wall. In the GTD classes, the seven Porsche 911 GT3 R secured only mediocre grid positions.
At the start of the 20-minute GTP qualifying, Tandy and Nasr initially waited in the pits with their two Porsche 963. After about seven minutes, the two hybrid vehicles headed out onto the 5.73-kilometer racetrack to chase top times. Both Porsche works drivers put in a strong drive and quickly positioned themselves among the frontrunners. On lap four, Tandy pulled out all stops: the outright Le Mans winner of 2015 set top times in the first two sectors and was on course for pole position – only to lose the rear of his Porsche 963 when braking for the last chicane.
The vehicle shot over the grass and crashed into the tyre barrier. Despite damage to the front of the car, Tandy managed to drive slowly back to the pits – however, the stewards had already red-flagged the session. The IMSA regulations clearly state that the driver who caused a red flag in qualifying has their two fastest lap times voided. As a result, the No. 6 car will take up the race from the back of the GTP field.
When the qualifying session finally went green for the remaining two and a half minutes, Nasr again launched a blistering attack in the No. 7 car. With mere seconds left on the clock, the Brazilian catapulted his 963 to the front of the field, only to be pipped to pole by the No. 60 Acura in a last-ditch effort. The qualifying on Saturday marks the conclusion of the so-called “Roar” at Daytona. As part of the three-day test event, Porsche’s two new hybrid prototypes covered a total of 1,541 kilometers in preparation for the season-opening round this coming Saturday and Sunday. Tandy shares the cockpit of the No. 6 Porsche 963 with his works driver teammates Mathieu Jaminet from France and Dane Cameron from the USA. Nasr drives the sister car with the Australian Matt Campbell and Michael Christensen from Denmark.
New Porsche 911 GT3 R qualifies poorly:
In the GTD-Pro class, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R (Gen. 992) concluded its qualifying debut in eighth place. Works driver Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium turned seven qualifying laps and improved significantly over the course of the session. However, the vehicle fielded by the defending champions Pfaff Motorsports could not join the fight for pole position. In the GTD category, the six new identical 415 kW (565 PS) GT3 vehicles from Weissach also struggled. Jan Heylen (Belgium) and factory driver Kévin Estre from France planted the two cars from Wright Motorsports on positions 14 and 18. Both cars fielded by Kelly-Moss with Riley take up the race from P19 and P20 of the GTD field. Lining up on the grid behind them are the vehicles from MDK Motorsports (P21) and AO Racing (P23).
“Our cars haven’t been able to match the pace of the competition since the Roar began,” explains Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “On the one hand, the Balance of Performance process is based on basic data such as the vehicle’s weight, engine output and aerodynamics, which help determine the initial classification. On the other hand, what is taken into account is the data collected out on the circuit under comparable track and weather conditions. The organizer receives the data when the qualifying session is over so that the adjustment of the BoP process can begin. We work closely with the organizers and look forward to a balanced field for the race.”
#6 Porsche Penske Motorsport – Dane Cameron (USA) / Mathieu Jaminet (F) / Nick Tandy (UK)
#7 Porsche Penske Motorsport – Matt Campbell (AUS) / Michael Christensen (DK) / Felipe Nasr (BR)
GTD Pro Class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
#9 Pfaff Motorsports – Klaus Bachler (A) / Patrick Pilet (F) / Laurens Vanthoor (B) GTD Class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
#16 Wright Motorsports – Ryan Hardwick (USA) / Jan Heylen (B) / Dennis Olsen (N) / Zacharie Robichon (CDN)
#53 MDK Motorsports – Trenton Estep (USA) / Mark Kvamme (USA) / Jan Magnussen (DK) / Kevin Magnussen (DK)
#77 Wright Motorsports – Alan Brynjolfsson (USA) / Kévin Estre (F) / Trent Hindman (USA) / Max Root (USA)
#80 AO Racing – PJ Hyett (USA) / Gunnar Jeannette (USA) / Sebastian Priaulx (UK) / Harry Tincknell (UK)
#91 Kelly Moss with Riley – Julien Andlauer (F) / Kay van Berlo (NL) / Jaxon Evans (NZ) / Alan Metni (USA)
#92 Kelly Moss with Riley – Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL) / David Brule (USA) / Andrew Davis (USA) / Alec Udel (USA)
Drivers’ comments after qualifying:
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “First of all, I want to thank the team for putting a great car on the track for me today. The new Porsche 963 has never felt so good under such conditions with an open track and the proviso to go max attack. It was simply outstanding! I was on track to set a new personal best, I only had to get through the chicane – but it didn’t work out. The left front wheel locked up under braking and I ended up in the dirt off the racing line. I tried to salvage the car before the second kerb but the rear kicked out. I lost control. Luckily the damage isn’t too bad. I’ll focus on the positives: the teamwork has been great over the last few days and the car is simply stunning. The 963 is a lot of fun to drive.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “I’m happy with my fastest lap. It’s incredible how much progress we’ve made over the weekend. We’ve now got a better understanding of the quirks of the car and the new tyres. Ultimately, our focus is now on the race and the preparation for it. Pole position would’ve been nice but we’re looking at the big picture – which is the race this coming weekend.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “We initially had some tricky issues to solve at the start of the Roar but our team worked on them systematically from session to session. As a result, we’ve made great progress in terms of vehicle balance and performance, which is the most important thing for a 24-hour race. I’m looking forward to the start of the season.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “We have a new car. And this version of the 911 GT3 R is also new for the IMSA management. So there’s a lot to learn for all parties – also in terms of the classification. At the moment it’s obvious that all of the GT3 Porsche are too slow. I gave it my best shot in qualifying – I can’t do more. I have complete confidence in everyone involved that things will go in the right direction for the race.”
Seven new Porsche 911 GT3 R contest the GTD Pro and GTD classes:
The new Porsche 911 GT3 R has completed around 24,000 test kilometers and three trial runs. As part of the test program, in autumn 2022, the systematically modified GT3 vehicle from Weissach took part in three rounds of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS), where it underlined its potential. “We’re facing a huge challenge. Our new GT3 racer contests its first official race on the big international stage at Daytona,” outlines Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R, ahead of the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “An average speed of more than 190 km/h in the race as well as the unique track characteristics with its steeply banked turns put huge stresses on the cars at the very first race of the year. We’re very much looking forward to tackling this challenge with seven Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by five strong partner teams.”
Legend of the high banks:
The Daytona International Speedway in Florida, which opened in 1959, distinguishes itself from other tracks most notably by its steeply banked turns. The slope incline reaches up to 31 degrees in the oval passages of the 5.73-kilometer racetrack. This requires a special vehicle setup. Porsche is by far the most successful manufacturer at Daytona. The Stuttgart automobile manufacturer has achieved 18 overall wins as a constructor and four as an engine partner, with a further 80 class wins rounding off this success record. The classic event has been contested on the combination of the tri-oval and the infield road course since 1966. For the 2023 season, the North American racing series features a changed class structure: The Porsche 963 contests the new top GTP category, with the 911 GT3 R competing in the GTD Pro and GTD classes. In addition, vehicles will also tackle the LMP2 and LMP3 categories.
Porsche drivers and teams:
Six works drivers share the cockpits of the two Porsche 963 fielded by the new Porsche Penske Motorsport team in the GTP class. Nick Tandy from England and Mathieu Jaminet from France are the regular drivers in the No. 6 car. The two seasoned professionals receive reinforcement at the endurance event in Daytona from the American Dane Cameron. Sharing driving duties in the No. 7 car for the 2023 season are Australia’s Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr from Brazil. Michael Christensen from Denmark supports the duo at the 24-hour race.
In the GTD Pro class, the defending champions from Pfaff Motorsports put their trust in an experienced line-up from the extended Porsche driver squad. Austria’s Klaus Bachler contests the whole season as a regular driver with Frenchman Patrick Pilet. At Daytona, works driver Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium joins the crew in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In the GTD category, last year’s winners from Wright Motorsports (No. 16) rely on Ryan Hardwick from the USA, Jan Heylen from Belgium, Zacharie Robichon from Canada and the Norwegian Porsche contract driver Dennis Olsen.
Driver comments before the race:
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “After months of anticipation, we can finally get going now with the GTP class and the Porsche 963. We’ll encounter an enormous grid line-up with all kinds of vehicles, so I expect there’ll be huge international interest in this event. We’re well prepared. In the search for performance and stability, our crew considered and worked on everything down to the tiniest detail. It’s my first time fighting for overall victory at Daytona. I’m ready!”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “Like us drivers, our entire squad and the development team have invested countless hours in developing the new Porsche 963. We’re heading to the first race full of anticipation and respect. We don’t yet know exactly what’s in store for us. We’d like to reach the finish line with as few incidents as possible. If we manage this, we’ll be ahead of the game, earn a lot of points and maybe big trophies.”
Matt Campbell (Porsche 963 #7): “We’ve put so much work and effort into developing the Porsche 963 over the past months to get it ready to race. The new era in endurance racing has finally arrived. For me, the step into hybrid prototypes also marks the start of a new chapter. I can hardly wait to climb into the car and fight for overall victories.”
Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “We’re racing at last! I can’t think of a better event to launch the new era of endurance racing than the 24 Hours of Daytona. This is the first time the new prototypes will fight for overall victory in the GTP class in what will hopefully be a close and fiercely-fought competition. Personally, it’ll be a truly thrilling moment when I turn the first race laps in our car. Matt, Michael and I will do everything within our power to quickly turn the Porsche 963 into a winner.”