9 reasons why Porsche Penske won’t win IMSA Mobil 1 Twelve Hours at Sebring

By | March 16, 2024

9 reasons why Porsche Penske won’t win at SebringJake Galstad

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Porsche Penske Motorsport has established itself as the team to beat in the second season of the hybrid prototype GTP era after convincing endurance victories at Daytona in IMSA’s WeatherTech Championship opener and in Qatar in the WEC opener.

However, Sebring’s harsh conditions and a twelve-hour race that ends at night present endurance racing’s most unpredictable challenge.

imsa sebring participant listimsa sebring participant list

Should it happen, a win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring would be a major milestone for Penske: the 100th in sports car racing for the team.

The 100th victory is one of the many milestones that Porsche has at stake at Sebring.

Porsche is aiming for its 600th class victory since 1952 at Sebring, and what would be a record-extending 19th overall victory at Sebring, America’s oldest endurance race.

The two Team Penske cars aren’t the only Porsches to take win No. 600 for the manufacturer this week. There is also one Porsche in GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and three in GT Daytona (GTD).

Here are nine reasons why Penske’s 2024 Porsche 963 entries will pass their toughest endurance test yet.

25 BMW M team rll, BMW M hybrid v8, GTP Connor de Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde25 BMW M team rll, BMW M hybrid v8, GTP Connor de Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde

Bumps and traffic are just two factors at Sebring.Jake Galstad

1. Sebring is a huge wildcard

The high speeds over the 6.0 kilometers of bumpy concrete and undulating asphalt cause all kinds of unpredictable problems. Even if the car stays together, drivers are faced with many variables.

“This track is tough for the drivers,” said Team Penske general manager Jonathan Diuguid. “Nobody ever gets out of the car and says, ‘That’s the best car I ever drove at Sebring.’ It’s really all about compromises.”


7 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp roger penske7 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp roger penske

Team owner Roger Penske is on the verge of a few milestones at Sebring this week.Richard Dole

2. Porsche Penske entries are not bulletproof

In each of the two victories this year, one of the team’s 963s suffered a technical problem that took the team out of contention.

“Unfortunately, our car did not have as spectacular a start to the season (at Daytona) as its sister car,” said Mathieu Jaminet, co-driver of the No. 6 Penske entry. “We couldn’t finish on the podium and score that many points, so we still have a score to settle. Hopefully everything goes smoothly in Sebring.”


7 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp matt campbell, felipe nasr, dane cameron, josef newgarden, 6 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp mathieu jaminet, nick tandy, kevin estre, laurens vanthoor, pit stop7 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp matt campbell, felipe nasr, dane cameron, josef newgarden, 6 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp mathieu jaminet, nick tandy, kevin estre, laurens vanthoor, pit stop

Pit strategy can only go so far during an endurance race like Sebring. Michael L. Levitt

3. The race really starts at sunset

The Penske team took the lead at night last year with a better pit strategy, but both cars were involved in a three-car crash late in the race.

“Despite a lack of pace, we were suddenly on course for victory shortly before the checkered flag, but lost everything,” said Urs Kuratle, factory director of Porsche’s sports prototype program. “The pendulum can swing so quickly in either direction. We are well aware of that.”


10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, Acura Arx 06, GTP Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Brendon Hartley10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, Acura Arx 06, GTP Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Brendon Hartley

Wayne Taylor Racing is going to have a good day in the Twelve Hour.Michael L. Levitt

4. The WTR/Andretti team is ready

Wayne Taylor’s team hasn’t won among the orange groves since 2017 and returns this year with a second Acura ARX-06 entry in partnership with Andretti Autosport. Last year, the No. 10 Acura was fastest for most of the day but was thwarted by Penske’s pit strategy and the multi-car crash with minutes remaining as Felipe Albuquerque tried to regain the lead.

“Last year was chaotic, crazy and wild,” Albuquerque said. “Most likely it will be the same this year. Let’s hope it comes to an end this year. The performance is there. The WTRAndretti team is super motivated.”


31 whelen cadillac racing, cadillac v seriesr, gtp pipo derani, jack aitken, tom blomqvist31 whelen cadillac racing, cadillac v seriesr, gtp pipo derani, jack aitken, tom blomqvist

The GTP class is no longer the mystery it could have been a year ago.Jake Galstad

5. The second season of GTP means that all manufacturers have more knowledge

This wealth of opportunity means that the team from each of the four original manufacturers is a potential competitor, with the BMW M Team RLL being the dark horse. Sebring will provide a tough debut race for Iron Lynx’s new Lamborghini SC63.

“In our kind of racing it is not just about the speed of one lap, but it is much more about the team, much more about having a good car for different phases of a race,” says Action Express driver Pipo Derani, a four-time racer. time winner at Sebring. “Then you start to see that details matter and yield profit. I think we are at a stage where we better understand what we need from the car, which gives us hope that we will improve things that we want to improve compared to previous years.”


85 jdc miller motorsports, porsche 963, gtp tijmen van der helm, richard westbrook, phil hanson85 jdc miller motorsports, porsche 963, gtp tijmen van der helm, richard westbrook, phil hanson

Don’t discount the hijackers at Sebring.Jake Galstad

6. JDC-Miller Motorsports and Proton Competition’s Privateer Porsches could benefit from Penske and Porsche’s development of the 963

The American JDC-Miller team is deep in Sebring experience and finished second overall in 2022 with a Cadillac DPi. A private victory wouldn’t undermine Penske’s dream season, as the Porsche factory and team could claim some credit. Still…

“Our testing at Sebring a few weeks ago was successful and that gives us confidence,” said Richard Westbrook, who will pilot the JDC-Miller team’s 963 and was part of the 2022 runner-up. “We are keen to continue the great run (for Porsche) so far this year.”


01 Cadillac Racing, Cadillac V SeriesR, GTP Renger Van Der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon01 Cadillac Racing, Cadillac V SeriesR, GTP Renger Van Der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon

Chip Ganassi Racing is determined to come out on top in his final season with Cadillac in 2024.Michael L. Levitt

7. The Cadillac teams of Action Express and Chip Ganassi Racing are hungry

This will be Chip Ganassi Racing’s final season at Caddy, which may or may not be motivating for the team that won here in 2022. Looking back at the DPi era, Cadillac teams have won four of the last five at Sebring.

“I feel like we’ve been the class of the field the last two years, and it would be really good if we could put one on the board for Cadillac and that’s what we’re going for,” said CGR driver Sebastien Bourdais. “No matter how strong the competition is, we are good under all circumstances. We are going to prepare to respond as best we can, whatever comes our way.”


8. The weather will play a role

The ambient temperature on race day is expected to be 90 degrees, the hottest day of the race week. The generally slippery conditions and the constant changes between different surfaces become even more challenging on a hot day for drivers, who also have to combat the heat of the cockpit.


4 corvette racing by pratt miller motorsports, corvette z06 gt3r, gtd pro tommy milner, nicky catsburg, earl bamber4 corvette racing by pratt miller motorsports, corvette z06 gt3r, gtd pro tommy milner, nicky catsburg, earl bamber

It’s best to keep at least one eye on the pits during the race.Michael L. Levitt

9. Pit strategy can keep a team in contention.

Cadillac captured the manufacturers’ championship at Petit Le Mans last year, just ahead of Porsche, thanks to its decision to pit early at the final stop. In the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Penske’s No. 7 car won with a shorter final pit stop.

Last year at Sebring the final pit decisions resulted in the unexpected finish.

“When our car left the pits for the last time last year, we were in the lead,” said Gary Nelson, team manager at Action Express. “We were in front at the last restart. But by the time we got to the end of the back row after the restart, we were fourth, because the other teams had newer tires. I said to myself, ‘It’s in the hands of the racing gods.’ In the end we missed the big crash at the end and won from fourth place.”

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