JDC-Miller plays the GTP waiting game

Richard Dole/Motorsport Images

JDC-Miller plays the GTP waiting game

IMSA

JDC-Miller plays the GTP waiting game

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Good things come to those who wait. At least John Church and his colleagues at JDC-Miller MotorSports hope so.

For while the likes of the factory teams for Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche — the manufacturers competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s new top prototype class, Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) — are pounding around racetracks preparing for a new era of IMSA competition, JDC-Miller MotorSports is playing a waiting game.

As Porsche’s first and — to date — sole confirmed GTP customer, Church and company have long known they will not have their new car in time for the 2023 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. And while they hope to debut their Porsche 963 in March at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts — a race JDC-Miller won in 2021 — that is looking unlikely. Earlier this month, Urs Kuratle, Porsche Motorsport’s LMDh director, pegged late April as the more likely delivery date.

Still, it’s not as if the Savage, Minnesota-based squad is sitting idly this “offseason.” The team’s engineers and mechanics have attended three tests of the new Porsche 963, including a 36-hour endurance run at Sebring in October. Nor is it as if the JDC-Miller squad was sitting in the cheap seats taking notes. Rather, as much as possible for tests where the hands-on personnel wear Penske or Porsche garb, Church’s representatives were integrated in the proceedings.

“It’s been very positive,” says Church, the organization’s CEO and managing partner. “Our engineering group and mechanics have gotten to see everything that’s been going on, ask any questions we might have and get straightforward answers. Everything has been open book.”

Church (left) and John Miller are switching their team from Cadillac to Porsche for GTP. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Of course, at this nascent stage of the GTP game, there really aren’t many secrets between two teams destined to battle one another during the 2023 WeatherTech Championship campaign, even though both will be carrying the Porsche standard.

“It’s all big-picture stuff,” Church says, “familiarizing ourselves with the car and the systems, understanding why things work the way they do. It’s all about getting miles rather than going fast at this point. The 36-hour test was very encouraging; relatively flawless. The car just kept running and pounding out the laps.

“It is a little frustrating having to wait, but we’re making the most of it and Porsche and Penske have been very supportive. We don’t have a firm delivery date for a car. It’s possible we’ll be at Sebring, but at this point we’re not planning on it. All I can say for sure is that we’ll run it just as soon as we get it.”

Lest you get the wrong impression, JDC-Miller MotorSports will be very much in action in the opening rounds of the 2023 IMSA campaign at Daytona and Sebring, regardless of when delivery of the Porsche 963 takes place. The team plans to compete in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with a new Audi RS3 LMS TCR, renewing the relationship with Unitronic and drivers Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor, winners at Lime Rock last year as well as at Daytona and VIR en route to sixth place in the 2021 Touring Car (TCR) standings.

“Michelin Pilot is a fun series,” says Church. “We’ve enjoyed our relationship with Unitronic and our success with Chris and Mike. Last year’s win at Lime Rock was especially rewarding given that, at the time, that generation of the Audi was the oldest homologated car in the series. So we’re really excited about the new car.”

And while the driver lineup has yet to be announced — much like the GTP program — JDC-Miller plans to run a LMP3 Duqueine (pictured, top) at Daytona, Sebring and the full WeatherTech Championship LMP3 schedule — and perhaps the new VP Racing SportsCar Challenge. Memo Gidley and Alexander Koreiba finished second this season in the IMSA Prototype Challenge, the predecessor to the VP Racing Challenge.

“We got a win and three podiums with Memo and Alex last year and would like to keep them involved along with a new driver or two. But that depends on the budget scenario. It’s all one big puzzle — Michelin Pilot, LMP3, GTP — and each program represents one piece.”

Regardless of the particular pieces of the other programs, JDC-Miller MotorSports will be a keen observer of the GTP debut at the Rolex 24.

“Even though we won’t have a car, we’ll be there,” says Church. “Keeping a close eye on the GTP class, understanding what’s happening and why, and putting it all to good use with our own program when the time comes.”

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