Porsche 963 LMDH Prototype completes successful testing phase at Daytona International Speedway
The Porsche Penske Motorsport team has made big progress on the way to the 963’s first race outings. During two-day test drives at Daytona International Speedway, the brand-new LMDh prototype lapped the circuit’s famous oval and twisty infield a total of 397 times, racking up 2,274 kilometres (1,413 miles) in the process. This is roughly same distance as driving from Stuttgart to Istanbul.
The team will face this exact track layout at the race debut of the 963 across 28th and 29th January, when the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona takes place. We can’t wait! The test drives on the legendary American circuit threw tough challenges at the 500kW (671bhp) hybrid Porsche.
The external conditions, with temperatures hovering around 35°C, combined with high humidity of over ninety percent, not to mention regular showers, pushed man and machine to the limit, but such enormous stresses offer the ideal environment to prepare the 963 for fierce competition throughout the 2023 season.
THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MANUFACTURER TO CONTEST THE 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA
On the first of the two days of testing, the team was hampered by climatic conditions — following US law, lightning strikes near the track meant all marshals had to retreat indoors to safety. Consequently, the start of testing was delayed by ninety minutes. The new prototype, which will fight for overall victory at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring from next year, then began its endurance run at the hands of works drivers, Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet, who shared driving duties at the wheel of the car, which carries chassis number 03. Under the watchful eye of team founder, Roger Penske (pictured right), the squad continually improved the setup of the 963 and refined interaction between the engineers, drivers and mechanics as testing progressed.
Right up until 10.00pm on the second day, the new race car ran without any notable problems. In fact, the test runs concluded with a highlight: during the last few minutes, bright flashes lit up the night sky, perhaps a foretaste of the 963’s first race outing?! Indeed, at the car’s official debut, which doubles up as a round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, organisers of the 24 Hours of Daytona will set off spectacular fireworks at dusk, a tradition going back many years.
With eighteen victories to its name, Porsche is the most successful manufacturer to contest the 24 Hours of Daytona. Unlike the daylong enduro at Le Mans, the race takes place entirely on a closed circuit at wintertime, when days are at their shortest, necessitating bright lights around the circuit for long stints of night racing. As documented later in this issue of 911 & Porsche World, Zuffenhausen’s first overall 24 Hours of Daytona win occurred in 1968, when three of the four entered 907s locked out the podium. All eyes are now on the 963, which is hoped will take top honours in 2023.