Improved Porsche form halts Hypercar upgrade plans

Porsche appears set to shelve its plans to update the 963 with a new 90-degree crankshaft, following the car’s improved form in both IMSA GTP and the WEC’s Hypercar class.

Speaking with the media yesterday at Le Mans after the Test Day, Porsche Motorsport’s director of factory racing Urs Kuratle said that a firm decision on the upgrade will come after this weekend’s race.

“If all the 963s go through Le Mans without having any problems we can relate to a vibrational thing or a crankshaft thing then we will not introduce it,” he explained.

“It’s (about saving) tokens but to be really honest, it’s even more the money. If we would have to change the crankshaft for a good reason it will cost us a lot of money because we will have to update the customer cars (at the same time) as well.


“We do not expect something to happen here because the reliability of the 963 has improved a lot and it doesn’t seem to be an issue any more.

“The Le Mans race will be the second 24-hour race (this year) we hope without any problems. But the biggest reason is to save, not to save money because we will spend it somewhere else.”

Kuratle was then asked whether another significant upgrade was now being evaluated instead. Without going into detail, Kuratle explained that Porsche is indeed looking at other areas to improve the 963 in the future.

“We are thinking about it,” he said. “What does the 963 need to be more competitive, what makes sense? These are discussions we are having internally, then as is normal we have to get into contact with the FIA, and ACO and decide whether that is an “‘EVO Joker’ or not.

“We don’t have a date set immediately, the agreement is after Le Mans we decide whether we go, or need it. If the decision is that we have to go for it, then we have to go the supply chain, endurance test it and then go into discussions with the governing bodies on when and how to do it.”

Porsche’s original plan was to shift from a 180-degree crankshaft to a 90-degree one, to address issues encountered at Daytona. And Kuratle explained to RACER that Porsche intended to try and complete the complex test and sign-off process after Le Mans, but before the end of the season.

Unlike the other LMDh manufacturers, Porsche has to factor in the added complexity of updating customer cars. Any updates to its 963 must be introduced to both factory and customer cars at the same time, making lead times challenging to predict.

However, since it began work on the update the 963 has been winning races regularly. Reports then emerged after the WEC race at Spa that the new crankshaft may no longer be required.

This year alone the 963 has taken wins at Daytona, Qatar and Laguna Seca with the Penske factory team, and at Spa with Hertz Team JOTA. Porsche also leads the Manufacturers’ championships in both IMSA and the WEC.

“There are pros and cons to both types of crankshafts,” Kuratle told RACER back in February. “At the early stage, we decided to go for the crankshaft we have in the car now for good reasons. But then we realised that it wasn’t ideal for a number of other reasons. Now we are evaluating the next one and trying to overcome the downsides of a 90-degree crankshaft.

“It’s all about reliability, we have suffered so many problems,” he continued. “We had minor problems at Daytona. There were no show-stoppers, but we discovered problems in Daytona which we clearly relate to vibration issues. This is the downside to the current 180-degree crank.”

Story originally appeared on Racer