Proton Competition’s dual IMSA-WEC Porsche 963 program continues to come together behind the scenes. The German team has told RACER that it is expecting to take delivery of its new LMDh Porsche at the end of April, before taking on an extensive test program.
The only hiccup thus far is a delay to the program’s start date, which will see the team likely wait until after the Le Mans 24 Hours in June to debut its cars.
Unless a significant commercial opportunity emerges, team principal Christian Ried has repeatedly made it clear that the team would prefer to test its valuable new assets rather than rush to the Le Mans and compete in IMSA at its first opportunity.
RACER understands that when it takes delivery of its 963s, the team’s testing plans feature multiple venues in Europe, with 8-10 days of track time likely. Currently, it appears that the FIA WEC effort is most likely to get underway at Monza, while the IMSA program’s most likely start point is now Road America.
RACER also believes that the team’s step up to Hypercar in the FIA WEC will see it reduce its GTE Am entry to a single car: the No. 77 Dempsey Proton 911 RSR 19 for the FIA WEC races after Le Mans. Proton will, however, continue to support the Iron Lynx/Iron Dames effort.
Christian Ried’s team isn’t the only team on the cusp of receiving an LMDh chassis from Porsche for use in the FIA WEC this season, as Hertz Team JOTA, which is present in Sebring with a pair of LMP2 ORECAs, is also close to taking delivery of a 963. The team is fully focused on its LMP2 title challenge at the moment, but it will quickly split its resource to accommodate its Hypercar effort in the coming weeks.
Part of its transition to Hypercar is embedding its new team principal, former head of DTM at Audi Sport Dieter Gass, into the operation. He is present with Hertz Team JOTA in Florida for his first event with the British team.
RACER spoke with Gass ahead of what is set to be a quieter event for him in his new role. While he is part of the team this weekend, he is still getting up to speed. The real work starts for him when the team debuts its 963, which is expected to be at Spa.
Gass says he’s really enjoying life at JOTA so far and has been impressed with the level that the Le Mans class-winning team operates.
“I got in touch with (JOTA co-owner) David Clarke some time ago, before the deal with Porsche was sealed,” he told RACER. “He told me his vision and said he wanted to work with me. We stayed in touch and once the 963 deal was sealed we continued our discussion.
“It was an easy decision. It’s all happening now, there are so many cars and manufacturers involved in prototypes so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I was really surprised by the level of every area of the team. I honestly didn’t expect it to be this good from the outside. For now it’s been good to get back in the paddock, reconnect and get to know the team.”