New compound to thwart Porsche’s inspired Long Beach ‘no tires’ call

Porsche Penske Motorsport claimed its first IMSA GTP victory with its 963 with Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet, after a lack of pace in practice and qualifying led it to running the same set of tires for the entire 100-minute, sprint-format race.

It meant the car’s mandatory pitstop was much faster than its rivals, giving it track position and avoiding the painfully slow warm-up phase required by taking new rubber.

With the race bookended by lengthy yellows, the 963 crew was able to defeat the opposition – but only after Ricky Taylor had crashed the much faster Wayne Taylor Racing Acura while trying to pass Jaminet for the win.

But the introduction of the soft tire compound – along with an extra set now being available over last year – means warm-up will be much quicker around the 1.968-mile temporary circuit.

“I think the soft tire will mean we have even more tire strategies than we saw last year,” said PPM’s Jonathan Diuguid. “Obviously we’re looking to continue the streak of race wins and podiums that we’ve had this season.

“The #7 car is leading the championship and we’re leading the manufacturers’ points as well.”

#7 Team Penske Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr

#7 Team Penske Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

When asked by if a no-tire call was out of the question, Diuguid refused to rule it out completely: “I think it’s less likely; I’m not going to say it’s fully off the table because in the previous two years Long Beach has been relatively caution-free.

“Our strategy last year was born out of a performance deficit. But with it being a street course, having two more GTP cars and more GTD cars than we had last year, so I think the traffic is going to be much more of a concern.

“I think anything is on the table, you’ll see people doing whatever they can to get track position on a tight street circuit. I think doing the race on one set of tires is probably unlikely but I do think there will be more strategies in play.”

Diuguid also believes that the 963 has improved its handling on bumpy circuits, which will aid its cause at Long Beach and the downtown Detroit track, which joins the schedule for the first time this year.

“We focused a lot on our bumpy-surface package,” he said. “Both in European running and testing at Sebring. Hopefully we’ll bring some improvements to where we’re closer to the front and compete on the pace.

“Where we want to be is being able to control the race, like we did in Daytona, and be fighting for the win, like we were in Sebring.”

#6 Team Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, Fred Makowiecki at Sebring

#6 Team Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Nick Tandy, Mathieu Jaminet, Fred Makowiecki at Sebring

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Jaminet continues in the #6 car with Tandy as they look to go back-to-back at the former United States Grand Prix West venue.

“It would be good to repeat with another win,” said Jaminet. “I’m not sure that many teams have back-to-back wins in Long Beach.

“It’s more cars this year, competition is tougher, and we have some unknown with the soft tire, which we’ve only really run at Daytona in the night in IMSA.

“So, it’s something really new and a big challenge for sure.”

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