The Porsche 963 will enter the world race stage, as well as become available for consumers, in 2023.
Porsche’s LMDh challenger for the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has broken cover and been named. Porsche follows its historical avenue of giving its cars numerical nomenclature with the 963, which follows the beloved sports car that raced IMSA’s GTP category, 962. The new Porsche 963 race car was unveiled during the Festival of Speed in the United Kingdom on Friday, June 24th.
As it prepares to battle worldwide successful racing brands Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Lamborghini, Peugeot and Toyota, Porsche has put development of its 963 in the hands of Porsche Penske Motorsport, who will field entries on both sides of the sports car aisle: WEC and IMSA, with veteran Porsche factory drivers assigned to two cars in WEC and two in IMSA.
While car assignments haven’t been confirmed, the cars will be piloted by Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, Andre Lotterer and Michael Christensen. IMSA champions Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr are among this talented grouping that has won races and championships worldwide. Added drivers for longer races will be announced at a later date.
Using a Multimatic LMP2 chassis – one of only four chassis suppliers homologated for the LMDh and Hypercar prototypes – Porsche Penske Motorsport’s 963 racer is powered by a 4.6-liter, twin-turbo V-8 based on the engine that powered the 918 Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 car to wins around the world between 2005 and 2010; in the United States’ American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at that time, the Porsche RS was a Penske project.
The cars will be prepared by Porsche Penske Motorsport in two locations: the WEC Hypercars cars are based in Mannheim, Germany while the IMSA GTP racers are being prepared in Mooresville, North Carolina, Team Penske’s US base. “After 7,889 test kilometers during the first half of 2022, we’re on a very good path but there is still work to be done before the start of next season,” noted Thomas Laudenbach, vice president of motorsport at Porsche.
“Our new Porsche 963 should continue the legacy of legendary models such as the 917, 935, 962 and the 919,” he continued. “I’m positive that we’ll be well-positioned when it comes to technology and we’ve also created the relevant team structures to set us up for wins in the thrilling competition between many manufacturers and different concepts.”
The official race debut of the Porsche 963 is planned to take place in January of next year during the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona in Florida, set for January 26-29. The teams will take part in the week-prior Roar Before the Rolex 24 from January 20-22. Porsche Penske Motorsport is, since the FIA’s WEC has opened the door for testing as part of the upcoming world championship races this year, planning a non-competitive dress rehearsal for the 963 at the final WEC round of the season in Bahrain this November, they said.
Porsche Penske Motorsports assigned American Jonathan Diuguid as its managing director and he acknowledged, “Expectations are extremely high. Not only from the public but also from Porsche and Team Penske, who have written great motorsports chapters together in the past.” Giuguid and competition director Travis Law intend to guide the global team with direct oversight and management of both the WEC and IMSA programs. Daily operations at Mannheim are led by Bernhard Demmer, general manager, and Francis Schammo, team manager. Team manager Joel Svensson is responsible for these roles in the North American IMSA WeatherTech championship.
Applying traditional Porsche competition colors of red, black and white for its 963, Porsche Penske Motorsport used distinctive design that reflects to the successful 956 and 962 sports cars of the 1980s. A continuous strip of lighting at the rear echoes the distinctive feature of the latest 992-generation 911 road cars.
And another Porsche tradition lives on with the 963: it will be available to customers from the first year of competition, with the first Porsche customer team announced as IMSA was racing at Watkins Glen International over the final weekend of June. IMSA stalwarts JDC-Miller MotorSports is the first customer entry using Porsche Penske Motorsport’s-developed 963 GTP car. This single-car entry is the first but a second is expected into July.
JDC-Miller Motorsports was founded in 1994 by John Church, currently managing partner of the team, which operates prototype programs in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s DPi class, IMSA’s Prototype Challenge Championship and an IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge TC class entry. Church added John Miller to the ownership structure and together the duo have secured 18 championships, 62 victories, 60 pole positions and 210 total podium finishes across its grouping of entries over the past eight years.