Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#6), Nick Tandy (UK), Mathieu Jaminet (F)- Porsche Penske Motorsport (#7), Dane Cameron (USA), Felipe Nasr (BR)

Porsche Penske Motorsport is determined to continue its success streak at round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This marks the first race on the narrow streets of Detroit for the Porsche 963. The so-called “Detroit Sports Car Classic” is a short 100-minute sprint. The factory team fields two 511 kW (695 PS) hybrid prototypes, with the customer squads JDC-Miller MotorSports and Proton Competition campaigning two additional Porsche 963. In addition to the top GTP class, the GTD-Pro category will also be part of the Detroit programme. Off the back of its recent win in Laguna Seca, the AO Racing customer team will contest this category with the famous “Rexy” Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Porsche 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport (#5), Romain Gineste (Head of track engineering, Porsche Motorsport), Sebastian Vettel (l-r)

 Porsche Penske Motorsport heads into unfamiliar territory at round five of the season. The Porsche 963 races for the first time on the revived street course in Detroit. The circuit measures 2.66 kilometres in length and features nine turns. Porsche tackles the fifth IMSA round of the year ranking second in the manufacturers’ classification, with Porsche Penske Motorsport at the top of the team standings. Daytona winners Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron currently lie first in the drivers’ championship. In the top GTP class, the Porsche 963 goes up against hybrid prototypes from three rival manufacturers.

“There’s been no chance to test on the Detroit street course, so we’re curious to see what the track is like,” explains Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. “Our team has consistently done an exemplary job so far this season and we reaped the rewards for this with victories in Daytona and Laguna Seca as well as podium finishes in Sebring and Long Beach. In Detroit we’re eager to continue our top form and then come away from the 24 Hours of Le Mans with another success.”

“Detroit might be a new circuit for the Porsche 963, but it’s not for many of the team personnel,” explains Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. Penske’s Indycar outfit can draw on extensive experience with the circuit in America’s automotive capital. “The downtown location offers a tricky, tight street course layout, with a bumpy and challenging surface. Thanks to the latest top results, Porsche Penske Motorsport continues to lead the drivers’ and teams’ championships. This combined with the fact that Detroit is also the home of Roger Penske, our team aims to bring home another victory.”

The race

Round five of the IMSA season is held as part of the Detroit Grand Prix of the North American Indycar series. The Penske team contests the US motor racing championship for single-seaters with three vehicles. The Detroit street event was held on Belle Isle until 2020 but returned to its original downtown location last year.

2024 marks the debut of the LMDh hybrid prototypes on the narrow streets of the “Motown” metropolis in the US state of Michigan. The racing cars catapult through narrow barriers for a good two and a half kilometres, which includes nine mostly 90-degree turns. With a duration of just 100 minutes, the “Detroit Sports Car Classic” sprint is one of the shortest IMSA races on the calendar.

Drivers’ comments before the race
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): “A new circuit in IMSA doesn’t come every week, so I’m really looking forward to what Detroit will deliver. The track layout is fast in places but also super slow and confined in others. It’ll be interesting to see how our big prototypes handle these conditions. All teams go there on a level footing of course, with no one having raced or tested there before, so it’s very important to have a good base car at the first practice and to work systematically during the sessions.”

Dane Cameron (Porsche 963 #7): “There are a lot of unknowns heading to our first race on this street course because we’ve never driven on the Detroit track. It’s always nice to get to know a new venue. We made significant progress on a similar circuit in Long Beach, which we’re now keen to implement in Detroit. Our team is in great shape. We want to carry this positive momentum with us and extend our championship lead with another top result.”

Gianmaria Bruni (Porsche 963 #5): “I’m super excited. I’ve driven in Detroit before, but it was on the Belle Isle course and not in the city centre. It’s great to have Bent Viscaal as my teammate again. We recently competed in the Laguna Seca race and worked really well together, so we’re not starting from scratch.”

Richard Westbrook (Porsche 963 #85): “On the one hand, I’m a little sad that we’re not racing on the old Belle Isle racetrack, but on the other hand, I’m looking forward to the new street circuit in Detroit. It’ll be an adventure into the unknown for us all – that’s what makes it so exciting. Our team must have a good setup for the first free practice session. We then need to use the other sessions for further tweaks. I’m curious to see how the race will go with two vehicle classes – not just on the track, but also in the pit lane, which is sure to be narrow.”

An overview of vehicles and drivers

GTP class (Porsche 963)
Proton Competition #5: Gianmaria Bruni (I) / Bent Viscaal (NL)
Porsche Penske Motorsport #6: Mathieu Jaminet (F) / Nick Tandy (UK)
Porsche Penske Motorsport #7: Dane Cameron (USA) / Felipe Nasr (BR)
JDC-Miller MotorSports #85: Tijmen van der Helm (NL) / Richard Westbrook (UK)

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

The schedule (local time, CEST -6)
Friday, 31 May
08:00 – 09:30 hrs: Free practice 1
11:30 – 13:30 hrs: Free practice 2
16:40 – 16:55 hrs: Qualifying GTD Pro class
17:05 – 17:20 hrs: Qualifying GTP class

Saturday, 1 June
10:35 – 10:55 hrs Free practice 3
15:10 – 16:50 hrs: Race

Edited Porsche Factory Press Release
Pictures & Video courtesy Porsche AG