Cameron, Nasr Join Prototype Project; Pfaff Motorsports to GTD PRO; Heylen Named Porsche Cup Recipient
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Porsche fanned the flames of the future Saturday by unveiling the first images of its LMDh car that will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship beginning in 2023 and naming multi-time IMSA champions Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr as factory drivers for the project.
The announcements came during Porsche’s annual Night of Champions honoring the German marque’s global motorsports accomplishments for the current year and previewing the season ahead. The event was held virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.
In addition to the LMDh news, Porsche revealed that the 2021 WeatherTech Championship GTD title-winning team, Pfaff Motorsports, will compete in the WeatherTech Championship’s new GTD PRO class in 2022, running a Porsche 911 GT3 R for full-season drivers Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet. Nasr will join the No. 9 “Plaid Porsche” for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races.
And Jan Heylen, who laid claim to a pair of IMSA championships in 2021, was awarded the prestigious Porsche Cup that goes to the most successful private Porsche driver of the year.
Volker Holzmeyer, the new president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), also announced that Troy Bundy was named PMNA’s Motorsport One Make and GT Sports Manager. In the role, Bundy will assume responsibility for series oversight of all one-make operations, including the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands and multiplatform GT programs in IMSA.
LMDh Anticipation Ignited with Car Photos, Naming of Drivers
Photos of Porsche’s LMDh were highly anticipated since they are the first images of an actual race car from any of the five manufacturers committed to competing in the WeatherTech Championship’s new top-tier prototype class when it debuts in 2023. Porsche is partnering with Team Penske and chassis manufacturer Multimatic on the project under the Porsche Penske Motorsport banner. The team will compete in both the WeatherTech Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship.
“We are working all out with our partner Penske on the development of the new LMDh prototype and collaborate closely with the chassis manufacturer Multimatic at all times,” said Thomas Laudenbach, manager of Porsche Motorsport. “In January, we will begin intensive testing to ensure that we are optimally prepared for our 2023 competition debut.”
The team will have a pair of championship-winning drivers at their disposal in Cameron and Nasr. Cameron, the 33-year-old from Newport Beach, California, is a three-time titlist in the WeatherTech Championship. He won the GTD title in 2014 with Turner Motorsport, the 2016 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) crown with Action Express Racing and the 2019 DPi championship driving for Team Penske. He has 15 career IMSA race wins.
Nasr won DPi championships for Action Express Racing in 2018 and 2021. The 29-year-old from Brasilia, Brazil, who also raced in Formula One in 2015-16, has seven career IMSA victories. He is ready to get started on his Porsche journey, beginning with the upcoming season with Pfaff.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Porsche family and team Pfaff ahead of the 2022 season,” Nasr said. “I always love going to Daytona and having a shot of winning the Rolex 24; this time will be completely new to in the GTD PRO class. Hopefully, it will a smooth transition and a fast learning process with the help of my well-experienced teammates Matt and Mathieu.”
Pfaff Ready to Move on up after Taking GTD Title
Pfaff Motorsports is moving to the new GTD PRO class after conquering GT Daytona (GTD) in 2021, when co-drivers Zacharie Robichon and Laurens Vanthoor had a sizzling finish to the season – winning three of the last five races and finishing second in the other two – to take home the driver and team titles. It was quite the turnaround for the team that missed nearly all of the 2020 WeatherTech Championship season due to travel restrictions from its home base in Canada.
“2022 will be just our third full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” said Chris Pfaff, team president and CEO, “and in that short time, I’m incredibly proud of what the whole Pfaff Motorsports team has accomplished, winning four races and the GTD championship in 2021. We’re excited to be taking the next big step and are grateful for the confidence that Porsche has shown in us. With an amazing driver lineup and a great team behind them, all of the ingredients are in place for a successful season.”
Heylen Takes Home Prestigious Porsche Cup Honor
Heylen was named recipient of the Porsche Cup after winning the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge championship and being part of the lineup with Patrick Long and Trent Hindman that captured the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup GT Daytona (GTD) title in the WeatherTech Championship. Presented annually since 1970, the Porsche Cup goes to the most successful private Porsche driver and includes a new personal Porsche for the winner valued at 150,000 Euros in addition to the prized trophy.
“Not many people have won the Porsche Cup (racing) with just one team in one country,” Heylen said. “It’s just been a special year between GTD and winning the Endurance Cup and then the GT4 championship, which was a lot of fun; I really enjoyed racing in the Michelin Pilot Challenge.
“You can only win this championship if the opportunity is given to you and you’re in the right cars and with the right team and teammates. So, I’m really grateful, not just for winning this but for being part of Wright Motorsports. It was really a special year and to end it with winning the Porsche Cup is really, really cool.”
Heylen said he will rely on his good friend Long, the longtime Porsche factory driver who recently announced his retirement from fulltime racing, for advice on which Porsche model to choose.
“For me to have a chance to have a car like that is really cool because it’s something that I would never get for myself,” Heylen said. “It’s a really unique gift; it’s just super cool. Racing 911s, they have a lot of good cars, but I’d really like to have a 911. I’m talking to Patrick to see what the better car would be.”