The new Porsche 963 will tackle the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC and the North American IMSA series under the team name Porsche Penske Motorsport. The sports car manufacturer’s collaboration with the successful motor racing squad from the USA can look back on a rich history: In the 1970s, Penske raced the Porsche 917 with great success in the CanAm series of that time, and from 2005 to 2008, the RS Spyder racers fielded by the North Carolina team were considered virtually unbeatable in the American Le Mans series’ LMP2 class. From 2023, the newly formed team with bases in Mannheim (FIA WEC operations team) and Mooresville (IMSA operations team) will take up the hunt for overall victories on both sides of the Atlantic. Eight regular drivers from Porsche’s works driver squad team up in formidable pairs in each of the four cockpits. At endurance classics such as Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, they receive support from other top drivers.
During the test and development phase of the Porsche 963, close cooperation was quickly established between the specialists from Weissach and the operational crews from Penske. The processes are clearly defined, the hierarchy flat, and the responsibilities well delegated. At Porsche, Urs Kuratle from Switzerland helms the project as Director of Factory Racing LMDh. On the Penske side, Jonathan Diuguid handles operations in both sports car racing series. The American was previously involved in the successful RS Spyder project. He reports directly to Tim Cindric, who manages all LMDh, NASCAR and IndyCar activities on behalf of company founder Roger Penske. Penske is considered the most successful racing outfit in the USA. However, an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is still missing in the team’s storied history. Now with the newly created partnership with Porsche, this could be quickly rectified.
Operations teams in Mannheim and Mooresville
“We rely on existing networks to build our operations teams. In the USA, we’re very well connected as Team Penske and can also draw on personnel from our other racing programmes there,” explains Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport. “In Germany, of course, we take advantage of Porsche’s extensive networking in the European market. Our WEC headquarters in Mannheim is a former Porsche Centre, which we’ve extensively renovated and converted. By the end of the year, we’ll fill the positions that are currently vacant so that we can start our first season in the World Endurance Championship as well prepared as possible.”
45 employees work at each of the locations in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, and Mooresville, USA, on preparing the two Porsche 963 for the FIA WEC and IMSA series. In the USA, Travis Law acts as General Manager of Porsche Penske Motorsport. He is supported by Team Manager Joel Svensson. In the World Endurance Championship, Bernhard Demmer is in charge as General Manager. The German brings a wealth of experience as the previous team manager of Porsche’s Manthey squad in the FIA WEC. As does Luxembourg’s Francis Schammo, who takes over the role of team manager at Porsche Penske Motorsport in the World Endurance Championship.
“We’re entering new territory with the FIA WEC. It’s a huge task,” says Jonathan Diuguid, who focussed on the ins and outs of the FIA WEC with a Penske LMP2 team in the 2022 World Endurance Championship. “The expectations are enormous - from the public, but also from Porsche and Penske, who together have written great chapters in motorsport in the past.”
Since the beginning of 2023, the new LMDh racing car has started a new chapter. The Porsche 963 headed into the season with the 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida. The greatest highlight on the calendar is the endurance classic at Le Mans in June. While Porsche has won the iconic 24-hour marathon 19 times, Penske still has this accolade on its wish list. “Winning there is Roger Penske’s biggest motorsport dream,” says Jonathan Diuguid: “We definitely want to fulfil that dream for him!”
A large group of partners and sponsors supports Porsche Penske Motorsport on the road to further success. At the core are six companies, most of which have enjoyed ties to Porsche Motorsport for many years. Michelin, as a tyre partner, is also vital to the performance of the Porsche 963, as is Mobil1 with its lubricants and Ansys with simulations. A close collaboration has developed over many years with chassis manufacturer Multimatic. TAG Heuer is on board as the official timing and watch partner, while fashion brand BOSS is the official outfitter of Porsche Penske Motorsport.
Porsche Penske Motorsport
Director Factory Racing LMDh: Urs Kuratle (Switzerland)
Managing Director Porsche Penske Motorsport: Jonathan Diuguid (USA)
FIA World Endurance Championship WEC
General Manager: Bernhard Demmer (Germany)
Team Manager: Francis Schammo (Luxembourg)
Drivers: Kévin Estre (France), André Lotterer (Germany), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium); Michael Christensen (Denmark), Dane Cameron (USA), Frédéric Makowiecki (France).
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
General Manager: Travis Law (USA)
Team Manager: Joel Svensson (USA)
Drivers: Nick Tandy (United Kingdom) and Mathieu Jaminet (France); Felipe Nasr (Brazil) and Matt Campbell (Australia).