Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#7), Felipe Nasr (BR), Matt Campbell (AUS), Michael Christensen (DK)

The first endurance race of the year is since decades the Daytona 24H. And as you know, Porsche has a long and successful history at the oval racetrack on the American East Coast. And Porsche has set the bar high for themselves. They aim for overall victory at the upcoming 24 Hours of Daytona. At the opening round of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the works team competes with two Porsche 963 and a top driver line-up. The ca. 515 kW (700 PS) hybrid prototype from Weissach heads into the new season with several improvements. Two other Porsche 963 fielded by the customer teams JDC-Miller MotorSports and Proton Competition also take on the competition in the top GTP category. In the two GT classes, a total of five customer squads compete for honors with one Porsche 911 GT3 R each.

Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#7), Felipe Nasr (BR), Matt Campbell (AUS), Michael Christensen (DK) (Dayton 24H 2023)

Porsche will field the 963 for the second time at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad has turned the insights gained from the race car’s debut year into further improvements and now travels with confidence to the season opener of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on 27/28 January. At the endurance classic in Florida, four works drivers each helm the two ca. 515 kW (700 PS) hybrid racers. The goal is clear: As the Daytona record-holder, Porsche is determined to bring home its 19th outright victory.

“Based on our findings from last year’s outings in the IMSA series, the FIA WEC, and our test sessions, we’ve further optimized both the car and the team’s processes for the new season,” explains Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “We’re confident that we’ll be considerably better prepared for the classic at Daytona this year. In 2023, we narrowly missed out on the title in North America. That shouldn’t happen this year. Our bid for the championship crown will hopefully begin with a strong race at Daytona.”

“The endurance races were our Achilles heel last year,” reflects Urs Kuratle. The Director Factory Motorsport LMDh adds: “We took a very close look at the issue of reliability and implemented appropriate measures. I’m confident that we have everything ironed out for the upcoming season. Our most recent test drives were almost entirely focused on endurance runs. We covered many kilometers with excellent results. We’ve also made further progress with some of the team’s processes. I’m looking forward to the season opener in Daytona feeling very confident.”

“Stepping into a new season as a team always brings a mix of anticipation and trepidation. The clean scoreboard puts all manufacturers on the starting line together and the upcoming season rests in our hands,” comments Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. “On the flip side, however, we’re all aware that the off-season is when championships are won. Until the green flag falls at the start of the race, we don’t know how we stack up against our competitors. I am confident and proud of the efforts our team has made over the off-season to ensure we are prepared for the challenge that the Daytona 24 Hours presents. In 2023, we scored three victories, two pole positions, and four further podium results – but there were certainly some areas of improvement. We’ve made some operational changes and worked on improving the car, and we saw the benefits of these adjustments at our recent test sessions. The reality is that we go to the 24 Hours of Daytona to win and, to do so, we need to be near-perfect. In season two there are no excuses for being anything less.”

The works cars

Four factory drivers will crew each of Porsche Penske Motorsport’s two Porsche 963s. UK driver Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet from France share the No. 6 cockpit with Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium and the Frenchman Kévin Estre. In the No. 7 sister car, Felipe Nasr from Brazil and Dane Cameron (USA) receive support from the American IndyCar star Josef Newgarden and Matt Campbell. Cameron and Campbell are swapping series for the 2024 season: The American is fully committed to the IMSA series, with the Australian contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC.

The customer teams

The customer squads JDC-Miller MotorSports and Proton Competition each campaign one Porsche 963 in the top GTP class. The German team’s No. 5 car is shared by the Porsche works drivers Gianmaria Bruni from Italy and Romain Dumas from France with Belgium’s Alessio Picariello and Neel Jani from Switzerland. Tijmen van der Helm from the Netherlands and the seasoned UK race driver Richard Westbrook make up the regular crew in JDC-Miller MotorSports’ No. 85 car. For the endurance race, they receive support from Englishman Phil Hanson, with successful amateur driver Ben Keating (USA) joining them as the fourth driver in Daytona.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by AO Racing will tackle the GTD Pro category. Former Porsche Junior Laurin Heinrich from Germany and Sebastian Priaulx from the UK are the regular drivers in the No. 77 car. At Daytona, they will be supported by Michael Christensen. The Dane is part of Porsche’s works driver squad, as is the experienced Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki, who will drive the No. 120 Porsche 911 GT3 R for Wright Motorsports at the 2024 season opener. The same applies to Austrian Thomas Preining. The defending DTM champion will share Andretti Motorsports’ No. 43 car with Jarett Andretti (USA), Colombian Gabby Chaves and Scott Hargrove from Canada. Julien Andlauer, Preining, Campbell, Jaminet, Christensen and Klaus Bachler have also come up through the ranks of the Porsche Junior programme.

Drivers’ comments before the race

Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 963 #6): “The new season is starting and finally it’s time to get going again! After last year’s experiences, we have a score to settle. I very much hope that we’ll have a little more luck on our side in the major endurance classics in 2024. Our entire team has been working hard to make further progress. With that in mind, I believe we’ll be competitive in Daytona. In 2023, the battle between the GTP manufacturers was always very close. It’ll be no different this season. We have to do everything perfectly. If we can do that, we have a chance of winning.”

Felipe Nasr (Porsche 963 #7): “Here we go again – I’m ready. It was nice to spend some time in my home country of Brazil during the break and prepare for the upcoming season. 2023 was a steep learning curve for our Porsche Penske Motorsport team. We were able to make significant progress in many areas. It’s a shame that it ultimately wasn’t enough to win the title. The season opener at Daytona is always a big highlight. Everyone wants to win this race. With a year’s experience, I think we’re in a much better position, especially in terms of reliability. Our driver crew is strong. I expect we’ll be in with a chance for victory.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 963 #5): “I’m thrilled to be competing in the top class at Daytona and be in the fight for overall victory. Unfortunately, we’re lacking test kilometers. Other competitors are certainly much better prepared. I’ll be contesting the entire IMSA season and I’m looking forward to seeing how we perform as a team over the year.”

Tijmen van der Helm (Porsche 963 #85): “We performed very well in our test drives – that gives me confidence for the upcoming challenges. I’m looking forward to the start of the season and an exciting Daytona 24-hour race. Even though Florida is the so-called ‘Sunshine State’ of the USA, we always have to be prepared for capricious weather, especially in January. It can get very cold and sometimes there’s torrential rain. That throws a spanner in the works, but it also opens up opportunities.”

Laurin Heinrich (Porsche 911 GT3 R #77): “It was a childhood dream of mine to represent Porsche at the 24-hour race in Daytona. This is now coming true for me in AO Racing’s 911 GT3 R. I’m heading into the season feeling highly motivated and with hopes of contributing some of my experience, for example, from the DTM. We’ve already completed the first tests. They gave me a lot of confidence. It’s a huge adventure for me to compete in the GTD Pro class throughout the year. I’ve worked hard on it and have made guest appearances in North America from time to time to prepare myself for something like this. At the age of just 22, I now have the opportunity to drive in this incredible series – it’s just fantastic!

Thomas Preining (Porsche 911 GT3 R #43): “My very first race in the North American IMSA series is coming up, which will definitely be cool. Our driver line-up is strong. I’m assuming we can make something really good happen in Daytona. That being said, 24-hour races are notorious for surprises. Sometimes you think you’re perfectly set up, but then suddenly nothing works. Other times, it’s the other way around. Let’s see what it looks like when it counts. I don’t know the series, the track or the team so it’s completely new territory for me. Fortunately, we have the ‘Roar’ in advance, so we can get used to each other and the team processes during the test.”

Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #86): “I always do everything I can to be on the grid at Daytona – it’s simply perfect that it’s happening again this year. The race there is always action-packed with plenty of suspense and it’s usually wide open until the very end. This will be my ninth start at Daytona. Often, I’ve narrowly missed out on victory. I want to change that! We’re all working hard and systematically as a team to turn the dream of standing on the top step of the podium after 24 hours into reality.”

Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #92): “I’m a massive fan of the 24-hour race in Daytona. That’s why I was so thrilled when I got the call in mid-December informing me that I’ll be racing with Kellymoss with Riley. I competed for the team several times in the 2023 season – it’s almost my IMSA home. My teammates David Brule and Alec Udell are also back – perfect! Together, our sights are set on a top result.”

Adam Adelson (Porsche 911 GT3 R #120): “I’m very grateful and excited to be competing in the IMSA with Wright Motorsports in the 2024 season. It’s a great step to be already racing in the top class in my second year of competition in the GT3 category. I’ll be sharing the Porsche in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races with my teammate from last year, Elliott Skeer, and Jan Heylen. Jan has an incredible amount of experience. I hope to learn a lot from him.”

An overview of the drivers and teams

GTP class (Porsche 963):
Proton Competition #5: Gianmaria Bruni (I) / Romain Dumas (F) / Alessio Picariello (B) / Neel Jani (CH)
Porsche Penske Motorsport #6: Mathieu Jaminet (F) / Nick Tandy (UK) / Laurens Vanthoor (B) / Kévin Estre (F)
Porsche Penske Motorsport #7: Dane Cameron (USA) / Felipe Nasr (BR) / Josef Newgarden (USA) / Matt Campbell (AUS)
JDC-Miller MotorSports #85: Tijmen van der Helm (NL) / Richard Westbrook (UK) / Ben Keating (USA) / Phil Hanson (UK)

GTD-Pro class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
AO Racing #77: Laurin Heinrich (D) / Sebastian Priaulx (UK) / Michael Christensen (DK)

GTD class (Porsche 911 GT3 R):
Andretti Motorsports #43: Jarett Andretti (USA) / Gabby Chaves (COL) / Scott Hargrove (CDN) / Thomas Preining (A)
MDK Motorsports #86: Anders Fjordbach (DK) / Kerong Li (CHN) / Klaus Bachler (A) / Larry ten Voorde (NL)
Kellymoss with Riley #92: David Brule (USA) / Alec Udell (USA) / Trent Hindman (USA) / Julien Andlauer (F)
Wright Motorsports #120: Adam Adelson (USA) / Elliott Skeer (USA) / Jan Heylen (B) / Frédéric Makowiecki (F)

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Edited Porsche Factory Press Release
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG