Two-Car WeatherTech Championship GTP Team Aiming for Consistency in Second Year of Hybrid Program
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When you’re among the best in class during the first season of a new car, your primary goal is continued improvement. If you’re Porsche Penske Motorsport, improvement is a byproduct of experience.
“Having one year under our belts now, I feel like we can operate in a much better window,” said Felipe Nasr, who returns for his third season with Roger Penske’s sports car program. “But everybody is going to raise their game for 2024. We have to be ready, but I feel confident. We’ve got a great team behind us. We’ll be ready.”
In the first season of a hybrid-based platform in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, Porsche Penske won three of the 11 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races in 2023. The team’s two entries – the No. 6 and the No. 7 – finished fourth and fifth in the final standings with both cars tied in points.
The team returned Thursday for the second day of a four-day test session on Daytona International Speedway’s 12-turn, 3.56-mile circuit. Nick Tandy and Mathieu Jaminet were back in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963, while Dane Cameron returned to full-time IMSA competition by teaming with Nasr on the team’s No. 7 Porsche 963.
Joining in endurance roles are Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor on the No. 6, and Matt Campbell and Josef Newgarden on the No. 7.
That driver lineup alone is worthy of notice. Coupled with this team and manufacturer, they become firm contenders for the 2024 GTP championship. Familiarity and experience are underlying factors.
“Porsche and Penske appreciate the work we did and the way we work together,” said Tandy, who completed his first full-season teaming with Jaminet by competing for the GTP championship into the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in October. “We’ve got everything in front of us to be able to go and do the best job. Whether that’s good enough to win, we’ll find out.”
Cameron, who first joined Penske in 2018, moves from the team’s FIA World Endurance Championship program back to IMSA, where he’s raced since 2014. One of his most competitive rivals during that time was Nasr.
“He was one of the toughest and fastest guys in DPi (Daytona Prototype international) that I ever had to race,” Cameron said. “We get on well. We have good respect for each other. We’re chasing the same things in the race car, which is always good. We’re both feeling pretty good about the pairing. We’re both very comfortable and confident in the category and the championship.”
The championship is expected to be stacked. GTP in 2024 will feature five manufacturers and dozens of the world’s best prototype drivers, all pursuing a prestigious championship.
“It’s going to come down to consistency,” Nasr said. “Whoever is more consistent during the year is going to have a better shot of winning the championship.”
If consistency develops through continuity, Tandy and Jaminet are a step ahead. The two longtime Porsche racers hadn’t done a full season as teammates before 2023, but they’re comfortable with each other and confident with what lies ahead.
“We’ve built a really strong relationship,” Jaminet said. “We see that on and off track. It really works. We can really build that up going into 2024. It’s put us in a strong position to perform. We didn’t change anything so early on in the program. We’ve got all the ingredients to do a good job in 2024.”
The four-day DIS test continues Friday and Saturday with sessions for Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) and GTD PRO classes only. It will be the final IMSA-sanctioned test until the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Jan. 19-21. That sets the stage for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28.