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IMSA Daytona 24 Hours

Porsche: Rolex 24 will “deliver answers” on GTP’s competitive order

Porsche’s head of motorsport Thomas Laudenbach believes today’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will deliver a telling verdict on the competitive order of IMSA’s new GTP cars.

#6 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963: Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy, Dane Cameron, #10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz, Brendon Hartley

Speaking to Motorsport.com ahead of the 61st running of the Florida sportscar classic, Laudenbach admitted that Porsche Penske Motorsport's debut with the 963 LMDh will require “a little bit of luck” in terms of reliability, given all the teething trouble encountered in pre-season testing with the new common electrical hybrid system.

“We are ready,” he said of the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. “We always talk about the things which are not perfect.

“We started track testing with LMDh roughly one year ago, I think we made good progress and we can be happy with where we are. Even so, not all is perfect – for sure, not.

“There were technical problems in some areas which have cost track time, and I would say – as with all new projects – you never say ‘we’re 100 percent’, ahead of the first race. As normal in motor racing – and I guess it’s the same for everybody in the field – a little bit of luck is needed.”

#7 Team Penske Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen

#7 Team Penske Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Acura beat Porsche to the first pole position of the season by 0.083s in last Sunday’s qualifying session, but Laudenbach claims that doesn’t count for much with a twice-around-the-clock event ahead and a requirement to double-stint the Michelin tires.

“My impression is that the field is very close together, looking at the single lap time performance, but we don’t know about the stints in the race,” he said. “It’s difficult to judge.

“I think the race will be decided by reliability, so if you have to pit for five minutes in such a tight field it will hurt. Hopefully we will see no retired cars.

“This will change throughout the season, we will see more and more the performance of the cars. But also, due to the restrictions with the tires, a very important factor will be who manages them best over the whole race.

“I think we will get answers this weekend, we will learn a lot in the race. The pack is really close together, it’s too early to judge who is in what order, and after the race we will know a lot more. And Sebring [the next IMSA round and FIA WEC opener] will be extremely interesting, that’s clear!

“If you talk about a race strategy, I would not do everything to fight for the last tenth of a second. I hope we get a long period of time where the cars can run free, so we can really judge the performance of the cars. That would deliver answers.”

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