Porsche opened the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season by winning the two biggest of the year with its 911 RSR model in the GT Le Mans category, added a third RSR to GTLM in a rare customer sale, and could grow the GTLM car count for 2015.
“The recent announcement from IMSA to go to a full-fledged GT3 regulation for GT Daytona from 2016 on has made some of the people in the Porsche camp think about alternatives,” Porsche Motorsport North America CEO Jens Walther told RACER. “They’re asking is there a way to run a RSR as an amateur in GT Le Mans that might prepare the team to run at Le Mans. We are having conversations as we speak, and depends on the ability to compete on that level and obviously the budgets. A GT Le Mans budget is higher than GT Daytona, but with GT3 cars coming in, the GT Daytona budget will probably see a shift higher as well.”
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The Falken Tire GTLM team fields the third 911 RSR in GTLM, and due to the timeline involved with confirming the program and Porsche’s available resources to produce a customer car, it missed the season-opening race at Daytona in January. Walther says the window is still open to deliver 911 RSRs before the 2015 season begins, but the window will close on that opportunity in late September.
At the moment, it’s early days and the teams have to make sure to define their long-term prospective; do they want to be part of GT3 or is there another branch of racing they would prefer [in GTLM], so if teams contact us within the next four weeks, we and other manufacturers should be able to help them with a program for 2015,” he added.
With full GT3 specifications being adopted for GTD, Walther and Porsche have an interesting change ahead where its GTD-specific 911 GT America will be phased out after only two seasons. Porsche’s 911 GT3R has been on a roll in the Pirelli World Challenge series over the past month as Nick Tandy and Ryan Dalziel have claimed three of the last four wins, and its GT3R would certainly be a good fit for GTD in 2016, but there are still plenty of questions to answer.
“It’s good to know where we’re heading and it gives our customers enough time to plan for the future,” Walther noted. “GT3 is something we’ve seen growing worldwide, the U.S. has always been a little outside of that growth, and we built the GT America to be an entry-level endurance racing car. Elsewhere, GT is the main race – there’s no higher class, but here, we have the challenge where GT3 will be the fourth category.
“The GT3 cars as they are will be more powerful than [GTD] today, and will probably be more powerful than what we have in GT Le Mans at the moment. That will be a challenge and that is a concern at the moment – how will IMSA slow them down? That’s concerning our teams, and that comes with more costs. There’s more aero with GT3 cars, so if there’s contact, the repair bill and the number of carbon pieces needed is higher. IMSA made a decision that’s supported internationally, so hopefully, we’ll see a more colorful field than we see in GTD. We’ll see if the entry level class is affordable for everyone the same way it is today.”
Speaking on PMNA’s partnership with CORE autosport in GTLM, Walther’s pleased with the relationship and expects more success in the future.
“It’s always a challenge to setup a completely new team in a new series, and we’re very happy with the development of the team and our partners at CORE autosport,” he said. “The first half of the season was about getting every process sorted in the team, every role defined, and now we have a good spirit in the team from the drivers to the truckie, and we hope this will all help us now in the last races of the season.”
A recent Balance of Performance break to address the 911 RSR’s lack of downforce should help Porsche’s GTLM effort to get closer to Victory Lane at VIR this weekend and during the final rounds at COTA and Road Atlanta.
“We couldn’t ask for a better start at the beginning of the season, and Daytona and Sebring are tracks that traditionally suit the Porsche,” Walther explained. “And after that, we went to high-downforce tracks where we suffer, but this latest Balance of Performance changes, it should improve things for us. Winning is our only goal.”