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Porsche unlikely to mount four-car LMDh assault on 2023 Le Mans

The German manufacturer has suggested that it will be too soon in the programme with the new hybrid prototype to mount a four-car factory assault on the double-points round of the WEC.

New Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach stressed that no decision had been made on bringing the branch of the new Porsche Penske Motorsport operation that will contest the IMSA SportsCar Championship to Le Mans in June.

Asked if it was a possibility, Laudenbach told Autosport: “That would be great, but I am not sure if will happen.

“If it is possible we will consider it; personally I would prefer to do so because it increases your chances.

“But we would have to look how it could work, if the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA [who jointly run the WEC] would support it and if it is possible from a financial perspective.”

Penske Porsche Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid was said that the new operation set up to mastermind the twin assaults on the WEC and the IMSA series would not opt for “quantity over quality”.

“I think in 2023 you will see a focused approach: we want to focus on making sure we are fully prepared and go there primarily with two cars,” he explained.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and jump in with three or four cars and dilute our approach.

“We need to make sure we approach that race with the respect it deserves and have a solid base to work from.”

Laudenbach explained that a final decision on the number of cars Porsche Penske Motorsport runs at Le Mans next is probably some way away.

Porsche LMDh

Porsche LMDh

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

Diuguid revealed that PPM is aiming to head into 2023 with “a core of 10 drivers” for its WEC and IMSA campaigns.

The Porsche LMDh driver roster will be made up of six regulars in the WEC and four in IMSA.

He raised the prospect of drivers from the PPM WEC team coming in for some or all of the four long-distance races that make up the Michelin-sponsored Endurance Cup segment of the IMSA series.

“It is going to depend on the calendars, and we will look at it from a broad programme perspective to see what makes sense,” he said.

“The Daytona 24 Hours would be a fantastic opportunity for WEC drivers to get more experience with the programme.”

He also suggested that drivers from elsewhere in the Penske organisation could be brought into the IMSA line-up when third drivers are needed.

“There are options we have seen with Team Penske, as well as other IMSA teams, bringing in IndyCar drivers,” he explained.

Simon Pagenaud was part of Penske’s Acura Daytona Prototype international line-up for Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans in all three years of the programme in 2018-20 when he drove for the team in IndyCars.

So far it is understood that eight drivers contracted to Porsche have sampled the LMDh since testing started in January.

As well as Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron, who were signed by Porsche last year for the LMDh programme, Frederic Makowiecki, Andre Lotterer, Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet are believed to have tried the car.

Urs Kuratle, director of the LMDh project at Porsche, explained that there is “no rush” to announce the full line-up for 2023.

“There are a number of good drivers in our line-up already, so we are relaxed on the driver situation,” he said.

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