Porsche reveals 963 LMDh Le Mans contender for 2023

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New racer was revealed in full livery for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Porsche has taken the wraps off the new 963 sports prototype with which it will bid for a record-extending 20th overall win at the Le Mans 24 Hours from next year.

The LMDh-spec racer was revealed in full livery for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where its driver line-up was also confirmed. The Porsche 963 will embark on a dual campaign in both the World Endurance Championship, of which Le Mans is a core part, and the US-based IMSA series. 

Run in alliance with US motorsport powerhouse Penske, the car will make its competition debut at the Daytona 24 Hours next January.

The 963 is built to IMSA’s new-for-2023 LMDh rule book, which historically the WEC has also embraced. Created on an LMP2 chassis made by Canadian constructor Multimatic, it is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 biturbo based on the 918 Spyder engine, with a DNA that dates back to Porsche’s RS Spyder LMP2, which raced with success in the US between 2005 and 2008. 

The engine is mated to the spec LMDh hybrid drivetrain created in alliance by Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering and Xtrac.

The drivers who will compete in the WEC and IMSA have been drawn from Porsche’s current roster of experienced international GT racers, and also includes its Formula E star André Lotterer. 

The 40-year-old German was a three-time Le Mans winner with Audi and also raced Porsche’s high-tech 919 Hybrid LMP1. The other drivers named are Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen, Laurens Vanthoor, Australian Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and IMSA specialists Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr.

Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche’s vice-president of motorsport, said: “After 7889 test kilometres during the first half of 2022, we’re on a very good path, but there is still work to be done before the start of next season.

“Our new Porsche 963 should continue the legacy of legendary models such as the 917, 935, 956, 962 and the 919. I’m positive that we’ll be well positioned when it comes to technology and we’ve also created the relevant team structures to set us up for wins in the thrilling competition between many manufacturers and different concepts.” 

Four 963s will be built to run the Penske Porsche Motorsport factory squad across both series, but more will be made available for as yet unconfirmed customer team entries.

“Over the past few months, our people at Porsche Motorsport and Team Penske have grown into an efficient and committed squad – the Porsche Penske Motorsport Team,” said Urs Kuratle, director of factory motorsport in LMDh. “We’ll have powerful driver crews in the four factory cars. 

“The collaboration with our long-standing tyre partner Michelin and the chassis manufacturer Multimatic works flawlessly. The Porsche 963 should be homologated this autumn. Until then, we want to make further progress with test drives and gain additional insights. We can hardly wait for our first outing.” 

In preparation for the campaign, Penske returned to the Le Mans 24 Hours this month for the first time since it ran a Ferrari 512M at the French classic in 1971. The team ran an LMP2 ORECA-Gibson driven by Cameron, Nasr and French veteran Emmanuel Collard. They finished fifth in class.

The pressure is now on for Penske and Porsche to hit the ground at a sprint when the new era for global sports car racing starts next season. Porsche will face opposition in the form of Le Man Hypercar (LMH) entries from Toyota’s established GR010 Hybrid, Ferrari, Peugeot and Glickenhaus, plus LMDh challengers from Cadillac, BMW and Acura.

Jonathan Diuguid, managing director of Porsche Penske Motorsport, said: “Expectations are extremely high, not only from the public but also from Porsche and Team Penske, who have written great motorsport chapters together in the past.”

Source: Autocar

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