Porsche confident of sorting Daytona problems for Sebring WEC, IMSA

Jonathan Diuguid, boss of the PPM squad, said there is «definitely confidence» that it can go into the double-header Sebring weekend when it will race a pair of 963s in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a reliable car.

He explained that Porsche and Penske have been working with the suppliers of each of the components of the one-make hybrid system mandated in LMDh and that a test plan is already in place to prepare for the 1000-mile WEC and 12-hour IMSA races on 17 and 18 March respectively.

That began this week at Sebring with a two-day official IMSA test on Wednesday and Thursday.

The two PPM 963s ran into issues with the spec parts that make up the hybrid system during the IMSA season-opener at Daytona on 28-29 January.

The #7 entry required a change of the battery manufactured by Williams Advanced Engineering as early as hour six, after running into what were described as issues related to «safety systems and protocols», while the #6 car was withdrawn late on after encountering problems with the Xtrac gearbox.

The third element of the hybrid system is the motor generator unit supplied by Bosch.

«We had some technical issues that affected our race finishing positions [at Daytona] and we have had productive conversations with all the suppliers and came back with a test plan for where we are in Sebring now,» said Diuguid.

«The time is short, but our group is working really hard and we are motivated to come back and address the technical issues and show the potential and pace of our Porsche 963. We were disappointed with our performance at Daytona, but that doesn’t take way from what everyone has put into that date.

«That effort continued post-race, working well with Xtrac and the hybrid suppliers to the address the problems. We are putting all the effort we can to show up at Sebring prepared.»

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen

#7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Asked to explain why Porsche, along with BMW, encountered problems with the hybrid system at Daytona, and Acura and Cadillac did not, Diuguid replied. «There are different engines with different vibration levels.

«That’s what we are working through with the suppliers to make sure we understand how those components are affected by the [engine] architecture that our team and Porsche has chosen, and how we make sure those parts are reliable for us in the future.»

He stressed that Porsche’s problems at Daytona had been «definitely visible» but that «every LMDh manufacturer was affected by issues through the race».

The internal combustion engine in the Porsche is a 4.6-litre twin-turbo, wheres the winning Acura ARX-06 has a 2.4-litre V6 twin-turbo and the Cadillac V-LMDh that finished third and fourth on the lead lap a 5.5-litre normally-aspirated V8.

Diuguid expressed satisfaction with the way the new PPM organisation performed as a race team on its first outing at Daytona.

«From the Penske side we were happy with how the team performed and the team organisation,» he said.

Diuguid revealed a first for the 963 programme this week: it tested on both sides of the Atlantic on the same day with the 963.

While the IMSA squad was taking part in the test at Sebring on Wednesday, one of the two WEC race cars was given a shakedown at Porsche’s Weissach proving ground in Germany.

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