- Early retirement for Jaminet/Tandy/Vanthoor after unfortunate accidents
- Campbell/Nasr/Newgarden go unrewarded after resolute battle
The two Porsche 963 fielded by the Porsche Penske Motorsport factory squad went unrewarded for their tireless fight for the championship. In the last race of this year's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta, the two 515 kW (700 PS) hybrid prototypes from Weissach crossed the finish line in fourth and tenth in the top GTP class.
Stuttgart. In sunny conditions and witnessed by large crowds in the US state of Georgia, almost everyone experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. The Porsche Penske Motorsport works team tackled the race with high hopes of winning the manufacturers' title. The regular driver pairings Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet (#6) as well as Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr (#7) were also in the running for the drivers' championship crown. However, the dream of winning the title in the first year of the new top GTP class was quickly shattered for the British-French duo. After just 75 minutes of racing, Tandy became the innocent victim of a shunt by two competitors. Although the No. 6 car was sent back out on the track after extensive repair work, it ended up in the barriers after being hit again – and was forced into retirement. At this point, works driver Laurens Vanthoor was behind the wheel of the Porsche 963.
From then on, all hopes were pinned on the No. 7 sister car. After around two and a half hours of racing, Campbell catapulted the 963 into the lead for the first time thanks to some inspired overtaking manoeuvres. At that stage, Porsche, the Porsche Penske Motorsport team and the drivers Campbell/Nasr were at the top of the overall standings. Indycar star Josef Newgarden, who joined the regular crew as support, kept contact with the leaders during his stints and handed the No. 7 cockpit over to the Felipe Nasr. With three hours left on the clock, the Brazilian then swapped with the Australian again while running in fifth place. Setting impressive lap times and with steely determination, Campbell ploughed through the field – only for his charge to be thwarted by five safety car phases. The race finally ended under yellow, where the chance to overtake was no longer possible. Campbell/Nasr/Newgarden finished the "Petit Le Mans" in fourth place.
"We fought until the very last lap, but lady luck just wasn't on our side today," summed up Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. "Our number 6 was out of the title race very early through no fault of its own. The crew in the sister car also lacked the necessary stroke of luck in the final phase, especially at the last refuelling stop. With three wins and two poles in the first year of competition with the Porsche 963, we can stand proud. The results in the second half of the season were clear evidence of a huge improvement throughout the year. Congratulations to the champions of the 2023 IMSA season and also to our customer team Proton Competition, who clinched their first podium at Road Atlanta."
"Cadillac took the title in a thrilling finale. Congratulations to them," said Urs Kuratle, Director Factory Motorsport LMDh. "Congratulations as well to Proton Competition. Our customer squad fought hard for today's podium finish with the Porsche 963. After the accident involving the number 6 car, we tried everything today to get the sister car in front. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. We were fast, it was close, but we just didn't quite pull it together. The others were simply a bit better today."
"In the last race of the first year with the Porsche 963 and our new team, we didn't get the result we had hoped for," summarises Jonathan Diuguid. The Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport adds: "We all gave everything we had. Our number 6 car dropped out of the race due to accidents, then we put all our eggs in one basket with number 7. Unfortunately, some yellow flags came out at inopportune times for us. Other cars, which were hardly at the top during the race, suddenly appeared at the front. We would've loved to win a title, but unfortunately that didn't happen. We're looking to change that in 2024!"
Porsche wrapped up the 2023 IMSA season as runner-up in the manufacturers' standings. In the drivers' championship, the regular drivers Jaminet/Tandy and Campbell/Nasr are tied in fourth and fifth positions.
Drivers' comments on the race
Nick Tandy (Porsche 963 #6): "Today wasn't our day from start to finish. Of course, it was very unlucky to be involved in an accident caused by someone else so early on in the race. This kind of thing happens in racing all the time. As a driver, I always hope that I won't be affected. But today it hit us. It's a shame because our car was phenomenal. After the accident, we had to call it quits. Bad days like this make us realise how good other phases of the season were. You can't always be at the top, there are also bad days. Unfortunately, today was one of them."
Josef Newgarden (Porsche 963 #7): "Being able to compete at the ‘Petit Le Mans' with Porsche and the Porsche Penske Motorsport team was an honour and a very special experience. I enjoyed my second stint better than the first, but overall, it was just great. I contested a race in a GTP car for the first time and learned an incredible amount. I'll take that with me now and use that experience in the future."
1. Braun/Blomqvist/Castroneves (USA/UK/USA), Acura #60, 395 laps
2. Van der Zande/Bourdais/Dixon (NL/F/NZ), Cadillac #01, 395 laps
3. Bruni/Tincknell/Jani (I/UK/CH), Porsche 963 #59, 395 laps
4. Campbell/Nasr/Newgarden (AUS/BR/USA), Porsche 963 #7, 395 laps
5. Rockenfeller/van der Helm/Button (D/NL/UK), Porsche 963 #5, 395 laps
10. Tandy/Jaminet/Vanthoor (UK/F/B), Porsche 963 #6, 196 laps