The Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 wins IMSA Long Beach, driven by Nick Tandy (UK) and Mathieu Jaminet (F). The No. 6 car’s GTP class win marks the Porsche 963 hybrid prototype’s inaugural victory during Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Team members Matt Campbell (AUS) and Felipe Nasr (BR) in the 963 No. 7 car also rose to the podium. Both drivers took third place in the 100-minute sprint through the SoCal streets of balmy, sunny Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles.
Porsche claimed another podium in the GTD-Pro class. Klaus Bachler (A) and Patrick Pilet (F) muscled their No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R across the finish line in third place for Pfaff Motorsports from Canada.
- Critical Keys to the Porsche 963 Prototypes Staying in the Hunt
- Porsche Penske’s Turning of the Tide on the Long Beach Shores
- Porsche Penske’s Final GTP Hurdle to Long Beach’s Victory Lane
- Porsche Penske Motorsport Savors Its Historic Inaugural GTP Win
- Porsche Also Podiums in the GTD-Pro Class
- What’s Next for the Porsche Penske Motorsport Team?
Made in acclaimed Flacht, the two Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 hybrid prototypes displayed vast improvements over their performances in the previous 24 Hours of Daytona (Round 1) and 12 Hours of Sebring (Round 2) of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 7 car of Campbell and Nasr qualified in sixth place. The Porsche Penske Motorsport No. 6 car of Tandy and Jaminet started the race in eighth place on Long Beach’s narrow street circuit along the sun-drenched Pacific coast.
Critical Keys to the Porsche 963 Prototypes Staying in the Hunt
Good fortune began flowing Porsche’s way from the get-go: At barely 9 seconds in, Sebastien Bourdais (F) in the No. 1 Cadillac unfortunately spun and crashed into the wall; this mishap paved the way for the No. 6 and No. 7 Porsche GTP cars to advance to second and fifth place, respectively.
Another beneficial turning point, one of the strategic variety, occurred during the first scheduled service and driver change. After scrapping fiercely to hang on to their positions in the field, Nick Tandy and Felipe Nasr, the first-stint drivers, boxed the two Porsche 963 in the middle of the race.
Once the two sister cars were in the pits, the Porsche Penske Motorsport works team executed a bold calculated ploy: Instead of changing tires at all four corners like the rest of the GTP field, the Porsche works team double-stinted their tires on both cars — testament to Porsche’s trust in the race-tested durability of Michelin tires.
Sure enough, those precious seconds saved in the pits catapulted the two Porsche hybrid prototypes to the front of the field.
Porsche Penske’s Turning of the Tide on the Long Beach Shores
But then in the race’s latter stages, Campbell in his No. 7 Porsche was busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kickin’ contest. The Australian came under relentless assault from his GTP-class competitors. Yet Campbell was ruthless in countering this onslaught of attempted overtakes.
Then it looked like Campbell’s pluck as well as his luck were finally running out. Not only did his No. 7 Porsche sustain rear downforce damage in a non-lethal paint-trading collision, but his tires also deteriorated dramatically during the last ten laps.
Meanwhile, Jaminet in his No. 6 Porsche was way out in front in clean air. He seemed impossible to catch. But seasoned Ricky Tailor (USA) in his No. 10 Acura didn’t quite see it that way. In fact, the Acura kept relentlessly closing the gap, lap after lap.
Porsche Penske’s Final GTP Hurdle to Long Beach’s Victory Lane
Then it happened. Taylor finally caught up to the rear of Jaminet’s Porsche. Taylor went in for the kill, just about passing Jaminet — but misjudged the braking zone in this do-or-die effort. The dare-devil move for all the marbles caused him to crash his Acura into tire barriers that, ironically, were draped in end-to-end-to-end “Acura” banners.
Jaminet would later recall, “When the Acura appeared in my rear-view mirror towards the end, I knew he was going to attack – after all, I was on the back foot with significantly older tires. He tried to out-brake me in the first corner.
“I immediately realized he wasn’t going to make the corner and I took evasive action while he landed in the tire barriers. That was some real nail-biting stuff at the end of the race.”
Prior to that accident, though, Campbell had lost two positions as a result of the previous collision and his shredded tires. There were nine minutes left on the clock.
But then Ricky Taylor’s sudden crash enabled Campbell to recapture his third-place position. Ultimately, because of that Acura wild encounter with the tire barriers, the race came to a docile but utterly satisfying end under a full-course yellow behind the safety car.
Thus the two Porsche Penske 963 hybrid prototypes triumphantly podiumed in first and third place, respectively.
Porsche Penske Motorsport Savors Its Historic Inaugural GTP Win
“What an exciting and fantastic race,” enthused a delighted Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President, Porsche Motorsport. “It was a spectacle from the first to the last lap. Our team chose an optimal strategy and did a perfect job with the pit stops.
“Our drivers gave their utmost and drove flawlessly without exception despite coming under enormous pressure. This performance was deservedly rewarded with our first victory.”
Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director, Porsche Penske Motorsport, also asserted in elation, “This day will go down in the history of our team. The first victory with the Porsche 963 is incredibly important to us. We put in so much energy and work to be able to celebrate such a success. We owe this triumph to every single person in the team.”
This Round 3 Long Beach victory garners the lead for Tandy and Jaminet in the drivers’ championship. The win also places Porsche in third-place ranking in the GTP-class manufacturer’s classification.
Porsche Also Podiums in the GTD-Pro Class
Behind the wheel of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R No. 9 car, Patrick Pilet (F) and Klaus Bachler (A) muscled their way up to the podium’s third-place step for Pfaff Motorsports. The GTD-Pro class race was just as thrilling as the GTP class race as a result of Pilet and Bachler’s near-perfect drives and the Pfaff team’s solid support.
In the GTD class, identical Porsche 911 GT3 R models managed by Wright Motorsports and Kelly-Moss by Riley completed the race uneventfully in tenth, twelfth and thirteenth places.
What’s Next for the Porsche Penske Motorsport Team?
No rest for the weary: On the following day, Sunday, the Porsche Penske Motorsport team contested Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC at the six-hour race in Portimão, Portugal. Two of the factory squad’s Porsche 963 competed in the Hypercar class.
Still hanging out in balmy California, Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship plays out on legendary Laguna Seca Raceway, spiraling down the notorious Corkscrew, on May 14, 2023.