This coming weekend, Spa-Francorchamps will host the FIA World Endurance Championship. In preparation for the third WEC round, Porsche Penske Motorsport conducted several days of testing on the 7.004-kilometre racetrack at the end of March. Consequently, the factory squad feels well-positioned to tackle the six-hour race with the Porsche 963.
Moreover, third place in round two of the season in Portimão gives the WEC team extra motivation. The Mannheim-based works outfit is once again eager to finish on the podium in Belgium. The so-called “Ardennes rollercoaster” is one of the most demanding circuits on the season and serves as the stage for the final preparations heading to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year, the endurance classic celebrates its 100th anniversary on 10-11 June.
“Our victory in the IMSA race at Long Beach and the podium result at the FIA WEC race in Portimão has given the whole team an extra boost. We aim to make the most of this at Spa-Francorchamps and continue our strong form,” explains Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “The race in Belgium serves as the final rehearsal for the big highlight at Le Mans. This makes it all the more important to further improve the car’s performance and the processes within the team. I’m also looking forward to seeing a Porsche 963 in customer hands at Spa-Francorchamps for the first time. I’m sure that the learning curve for Hertz Team JOTA will be steep and it won’t take them long to reach the top level.”
“Third place in Portimão was a wonderful reward for the team and it underlined that hard work pays off. Now we want to take the next step at Spa-Francorchamps,” says Urs Kuratle, outlining his expectations. The Director Factory Motorsport LMDh adds: “We’re anticipating a thrilling competition in the Ardennes. Vehicle performance in Spa is not the only decisive factor – equally as critical are the changing weather conditions, driving performance, strategy and teamwork. It’s terrific that the LMDh fleet “Made in Flacht” includes three cars. I’m very curious about the debut of our JOTA customer team with its Porsche 963.”
Premiere: First privateer team fields a Porsche 963
In mid-April, Porsche delivered the first 963 customer race car to Hertz Team JOTA. The British squad co-owned by David Clark and Sam Hignett is the reigning FIA World Endurance Champion in the LMP2 category. Over the last nine years, the team has finished on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans ten times. This season, the squad tackles the Hypercar class and fields a more than 500 kW (680 PS) hybrid prototype for the first time at Spa-Francorchamps. As support, Porsche Motorsport provides its LMDh customer team with consultants at all WEC races.
Making their debut in the cockpit of the first privately-run Porsche 963 is the works driver António Félix da Costa from Portugal, Will Stevens from the UK and Yifei Ye. The Chinese racing driver is the selected driver from Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific. “Our first race as a Hypercar entrant is a really special time for everyone connected with JOTA, Hertz, Singer and Brady,” states JOTA co-owner Sam Hignett. “Alongside Porsche, we’ve worked extremely hard to get the car ready to make its debut and its looking great. With our unique livery and strong driver line up we can’t wait to get going.”
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Edited Porsche Factory Press Release
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG