INSIGHT: Porsche Motorsport North America preps for 2023’s big changes

Photos courtesy of PMNA

INSIGHT: Porsche Motorsport North America preps for 2023’s big changes

Insights & Analysis

INSIGHT: Porsche Motorsport North America preps for 2023’s big changes

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Volker Holzmeyer’s first year as CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) was quietly effective, highlighted by a dominant GTD (Grand Touring Daytona) PRO class championship in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and a debut victory for the 718 GT4 RS CS in its first season of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition.

Now Holzmeyer and PMNA are in the final stages of preparing for what promises to be a huge year in IMSA for Porsche. The German manufacturer is not only returning to IMSA’s top category — GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) — with the all-new 963 Hybrid built to Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) regulations, but the 911 GT3 R that Pfaff Motorsports used to crush the GTD PRO field in 2022 is being upgraded to the latest “992” specification of the 911.

Porsche 963 testing at Daytona.

While much of the focus on Porsche’s 2023 campaign has centered on the 963 Hybrid (which will initially be exclusively campaigned by Porsche Penske Motorsport), the 911 GT3R is unquestionably the marque’s most important customer racing car. Porsche expects to field seven of the new 992-based 911s, split between GTD and GTD PRO, in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona International Speedway.

With outgoing GTD PRO champions Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet confirmed to be moving up the Porsche ladder to the 963 Hybrid project, Pfaff Motorsports will defend its crown with a new, yet-to-be-announced driver pairing.

“For sure, the new 911 GT3R is a big thing for Porsche, because you can win all the big races with that car,” Holzmeyer remarked. “Pfaff Motorsports received their first car in mid-November and all the cars should be delivered by the 15th of December, if everything goes to plan. We have a slot booked at Daytona December 17-18, where we hope all customers will have their cars and can join our test. Then hopefully everyone will get familiar with the new product.”

Pfaff and the other teams contracted to run the new 911 GT3R recently returned from three days the Porsche Experience Center at the Hockenheimring in Germany, where they received intensive technical training. “Then they were handed over the manual and the parts catalog — the whole basket of what you need to know before you get the car in your hands,” Holzmeyer explained.

Pfaff will handle the initial shakedown of the new 911 GT3R, including a critical homologation test at Daytona December 6-7 where IMSA will establish a technical baseline for the latest GTD/GTD PRO entries from Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. The goal is for all of Porsche’s customer teams to be prepared for their first experience running the new car ten days later.

“We will have massive support on site at Daytona on December 17-18,” said Holzmeyer. “The idea is just to get ready before the ‘Roar Before the 24’ test (January 20-22), so we will still have three or four weeks as a buffer if we have to figure anything out. We left a buffer so we can roll into the Roar test with everybody knowing how the car is working, how it is operating, and with the kind of setup they want to start the Roar test.”

December 17 is also the date of Porsche’s annual “Night of Champions” celebration, where many of the marque’s 2023 team and driver lineups are expected to be confirmed, including specific driver assignments for the 963 Hybrid between WEC and IMSA. Porsche traditionally leaves the responsibility of driver and sponsor announcements in the hands of its customer teams.

“There are still teams out there that haven’t announced they will run a 992, and some of them are still sorting their driver lineup,” Holzmeyer said. “So, we leave it up to them. We get requests for factory drivers here or there, and that’s all being sorted at the moment. I think as soon as we have that sorted with the teams, they’ll announce. They also have to work with their sponsors.

“Ideally, we can have a group rollout at the Daytona test.”

PMNA CEO Volker Holzmeyer

Holzmeyer, 42, who started at Porsche in 2004 when he was still a student at the University of Stuttgart, noted that PMNA’s biggest current challenge beyond delivering new cars is building up a substantial stock of spare parts.

“People don’t understand why it’s always so hard to get the spare parts in time, but if you look at the whole supply chain, this is the only time you produce the cars for the first time, and at the same time, suppliers have to manufacture spare parts too,” he said. “The biggest order for spare parts always comes at the beginning, because teams build up their own stock, we have to fill up our trucks and our warehouse…it’s always a tricky point in the supply chain.

“As you know, you just need two or three pieces to miss, and you have a mess,” Holzmeyer added. “Even if you have it 98 percent right, that’s not enough. You need to have everything. It’s always tricky, but so far, we are running according to plan.”

Although JDC Miller MotorSports will not receive its 963 Hybrid until after the Rolex 24 is completed, Porsche’s preparations for servicing GTP customer teams are proceeding full steam ahead.

“That’s a whole new support structure,” Holzmeyer said. “That was important, because the easy mistake would have been to let the existing team take care of the GTP car. As we all know, the most focus is always on the top class, so to make sure we still provide the same high quality of service in GT4 and GT3, we said we had to build a GTP support team on top.

“We acquired engineers already, the trailers are acquired axnd everything is getting ready. As soon as we know the final delivery for the customer car, that structure is in place and will join every IMSA race.”

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