Newgarden won’t race Penske Porsche at Le Mans

Newgarden made clear his ambition to race at the centrepiece round of the WEC before and after his Daytona 24 Hours victory with PPM in January, but the team has revealed that the two spaces in the third 963 LMDh it will field at Le Mans on 15/16 June will be taken by full-season drivers from its IMSA SportsCar Championship line-up.

That means the team-mates for Mathieu Jaminet, the only driver nominated for the #4 car on the publication of the full 62-car entry list for the 24 Hours in February, will drawn from Nick Tandy, Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron.

Asked if Newgarden, who made his race debut in the 963 in last October’s Petit Le Mans IMSA finale at Road Atlanta, was in the frame, Diuguid answered in the negative.

“We have four strong IMSA drivers but four people can’t drive the car, so one of them is going to be the reserve driver for the team at the event,” he said.


Team founder Roger Penske pointed out that bringing Newgarden into the Le Mans line-up would involve the necessity of further testing in the 963 alongside what he described as “a big job in IndyCar”.

“He did a good job at Daytona, stayed out of trouble, but he’s got to get time in the car like everyone else,” said Penske. “We don’t want to run a driving school.”

A decision and announcement on the drivers for the final two spots in #4 will be made at the end of this month or the beginning of April, Diuguid revealed.

“We will look at it and probably make a decision on a similar timeframe to last year, which is post-Sebring [round two of the IMSA series on 16 March] or early April.”

#7 Team Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell, Josef Newgarden

#7 Team Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell, Josef Newgarden

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

The third Porsche 963 fielded alongside the two regular PPM WEC entries was raced last year by Jaminet, Tandy and Nasr, with Matt Campbell fulfilling the reserve role.

The Australian is now part of the full-time WEC line-up in #5 alongside Frederic Makowiecki and Michael Christensen after swapping seats with Cameron.

Fielding an extra car in any of the IMSA enduros is not on the cards, Porsche Motorsport boss Thomas Laudenbach stated.

“It is not planned right now, but never say never because you never know what situation comes up,” he said.

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