In just the first half of 2022, Team Penske and the Porsche 963 LMDh have already logged more miles than the furthest distance that has ever been recorded at Le Mans. With that much time already in its logbook, Porsche has finally decided its racing livery was ready to be revealed to the world. In 2023, the Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 LMDh will take on the top echelon of endurance racing around the world with IMSA here in the U.S. and the World Endurance Championship (WEC). That schedule also includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which Porsche’s last overall win was 25 years ago. That’s not all, as Porsche closed the announcement with news that they will also offer a customer racecar program to go along with the works effort cars.
At the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Porsche and Penske unveiled the 963 LMDh in its full racing livery, which is done in the traditional Porsche factory-backed colors of white, red and black. At the same time, the driver lineup was also announced for IMSA and WEC with Porsche factory-backed drivers joining two accomplished sports car drivers from California and Brazil.
Those drivers will first take the 680-hp hybrid race cars out on their first competitive laps at the 2023 Daytona 24 Hours in January. There, under the IMSA WeatherTech Series banner, the 963 will compete in the newly formed GTP class, recalling the early glory days of prototype racing in North America. The last time a Porsche raced in the GTP class was with the 962 in 1993, when it was outclassed by Nissan and Mazda by 1988. So, finally, the update to make a competitive successor to the 962 has come, nearly 35 years later.
Much like those GTP cars, however, the LMDh and new GTP are state of the art for their era. Instead of 3.0-liter flat sixes making 695 hp, these new LMDh-based Porsches will make 680 hp using a 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 based off of the racing version of the RS Spyder. That same engine took Porsche and Penske to endurance racing wins from 2005 to 2008. While the 963 takes some design cues from the 956 and 962, the rear of the car is inspired by the 992-generation 911. The chassis is built to comply with LMP2 regulations and manufactured by Multimatic while Bosch, Williams Advanced Engineering, and Xtrac will provide the other elements, including the hybrid power components. For the IMSA side, these parts will come together at Penske Motorsports in Mooresville, North Carolina while FIA WEC cars will be handled by the Mannheim, Germany branch.
On top of the factory-backed effort with Team Penske—and in tradition of the 956, 962, and other racing cars built by Porsche—the 963 will also be offered to customer teams. Porsche didn’t offer up a cost for these privateer models, but stated that it will announce the program in “the next few days.” That’s exciting to think about as, currently, there are no privateer-effort LMDh programs. The vehicles that are competing in LMDh are 100-percent OEM efforts (which is important to the health of the class), but the inclusion of privateers is always good for endurance racing. With Porsche offering up a potentially competitive 963 for private teams to purchase and run in their own programs is a great step for endurance racing and fans. The more cars that compete, the more exciting the class will become.
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