Roger Penske plans to field an LMP2 program in the FIA World Endurance Championship as a tune-up for Porsche Penske Motorsports’ new-for-2023 LMDh campaign.
Oft rumored in recent months, the acquisition of new ORECA 07s has been completed, and after a private test at the Penske-owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this week that ran late into the night, Penske acknowledged the team’s intent to race in the WEC.
“With the commitment that we have with Porsche for ‘23 and beyond, you just can’t show up and be ready to run,” Penske told RACER. “So we purchased the LMP2 car, and expect to enter it in some races and compete at Le Mans as a training ground for us for ’23.”
One behalf of Porsche, Penske will run a two-car factory LMDh effort in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where Team Penske won multiple ALMS LMP2 championships in the 2000s, and back-to-back DPi titles with Acura from 2019-2020. The WEC side of the Porsche effort will be new to the Penske organization.
“We were shaking down the car with some drivers not to be identified at this point,” Penske continued. “Just to get a feel for the car and the team. These are guys that worked on the Acura Team Penske program, and we were just trying to get people back on their feet after the IndyCar season. And we’ve done a couple of days of testing and it was well worthwhile. And we have more to do.”
With a new WEC base to build and prepare in Germany and the testing of Porsche’s first LMDh anticipated to take place at the end of the year ahead of rigorous testing throughout 2022, Penske says a part-time WEC LMP2 project is the most he can commit to at the moment. The season starts in March with the 1000 Miles of Sebring.
“Our plan would be to run as many as we can up through June in Le Mans, for sure,” he said. “And then, depending on where we are in the development of the LMDh car, we may take a look at a race or two at the end of the season. There’s lots of options.
“And I think the first thing is getting the guys’ sea legs back and getting the driver line-up solidified. And we’re really excited about it. It’s a big undertaking. But you know, we’ve got good, experienced people, and this is going to be a lot of fun to try and accomplish a goal with Porsche we’ve never accomplished, and that’s winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the next few years.”