Porsche Penske Motorsports doing its part in Penske’s big year

It’s certainly been a good couple of weeks to be a Penske driver. First Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy took the second win of the season for Porsche Penske Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. That victory was also the 100th for Penske in sports car racing and the 600th for Porsche in IMSA competition. The following Sunday, Team Penske locked out the front row for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, and Joey Logano won the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Then Josef Newgarden, who drove with PPM for its 2024 Rolex 24 At Daytona win, scored his second consecutive Indy 500 victory.

With all those other wins, adding triumphs for PPM Porsche 963s in the Rolex 24 and the World Endurance Championship season opener at Qatar, it’s shaping up to be a very good year for the sports car teams. Focus for now is on the 1h40m race on the streets of Detroit, but it will shift immediately to the biggest prize in sports car endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Should the team claim victory in the famed French race, it would be Porsche’s 20th overall win.

Before his Indy 500 heroics Josef Newgarden was part of Porsche Penske Motorsports’ first triumph of 2024 for the organization, sharing the winning Porsche 963 GTP at the Rolex 24 with Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images


Bolstering its opportunities, in addition to its two regular cars for WEC, PPM is adding a third for IMSA regulars Felipe Nasr, Tandy and Jaminet. Of course, the manufacturer could get that 20th win from one of the other teams running the 963, JOTA and Proton Competition, as JOTA showed at Spa. A customer team taking a victory in WEC shows the strength of Porsche’s program at the moment.

“Last year, we all know the results … and we did a lot of hard work on both sides of the Atlantic, both teams, we worked on operation, we worked on the reliability — probably it was the biggest change from last year to this year,” explains Urs Kuratle, Porsche’s Motorsport Director of Factory Racing. “And third parties, the performance as well. So we worked on all those areas. If you participate in the Porsche family, Penske, in the championship, either IMSA or WEC, it doesn’t matter … but you’re there to win and you have to win — that was the expectation. Yes, we’ve come a long way if you want, but all the work, now it pays off. And the two teams and the customers, they’re making progress. All those things are coming together now and starting to pay off.”

Laurents Vanthoor — who races in WEC in the No. 6 963 with Andre Lotterer and Kevin Estre and joined Jaminet, Tandy and Estre in the No. 6 for a fourth-place finish at Daytona — agrees everything is moving in the right direction for the team.

“I think we are clearly on a very different path last year, which I think is normal. And I do have the confidence that this will carry on,” Vanthoor says. “I think we’ve been to a track which we knew favored us, where obviously the result was good; then we went to a track where we maybe were a little bit more worried, and nevertheless, the result was good as well. And we had a race [at Spa] where there were some troubles thrown our way, despite things going all right later on. Nevertheless, we performed and we executed. So that gives me the confidence that we’re going the right way, that we currently are making the right decisions.

“But we’re obviously not the only ones. The others will continue to work to try and catch us and there will be plenty of other competitors in Le Mans fighting for the same thing. But I’m having quite a lot of confidence going into Le Mans that we that we will be good — and also for the rest of the year.”

The same is true of the IMSA squads. Nasr and Dane Cameron lead the standings, while Tandy and Jaminet are fifth in a very tight points race. PPM Competition Director Travis Law is focused on the Detroit battle this weekend, but knows that each race builds on the next.

“It’s been a lot of success within the organization, which we really enjoy,” he says of Team Penske’s good days recently. “It’s great to see everyone’s else success — not that you need more motivation, but it’s definitely great. You want to be the next person to bring home another successful day and build on the the ones that you’ve seen. Across the PPM 963 organization, we’ve been working really hard on both sides to make sure we’re successful every weekend. We’re obviously looking forward to Le Mans and want to come back stronger than we were last year and hopefully have a similar result as Daytona.”

Expectations of excellence are shared across all the Penske teams and their crews. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Cameron, back in the IMSA fold after a season competing full-time in WEC, won’t be competing at Le Mans this year. But as the sports car driver with the most history in the Penske organization, he’ll be watching and rooting for the other teams competing at Indy and Charlotte this weekend as he prepares to get a second season victory for the No. 7 963 at Detroit.

“There’s not a lot of crossover between some of these programs unless there has to be, which you’ve seen in some of the personnel over the last few weeks,” Cameron explains. “On one hand it is it is a big family and we’re supportive of all the other divisions of Team Penske. But on the other side, our world is IMSA sports car at the moment and global Porsche 963 programs, so that’s kind of our focus. There’s really not much we can we can do or interact with the rest of it. But it was a good road over the weekend — the [IndyCar team] guys have got fast cars at the Speedway, so that’s always great, that makes me happy. Things are operating really well, I think, in every program at the moment, in terms of results as of late, so we just keep doing what we’re doing.”

It’s going to be a busy June for the Porsche Penske Motorsport squad and some of its personnel as the team has Detroit immediately followed the next weekend by Le Mans test day, then the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and culminating with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen a week after Le Mans. It will certainly be a challenge keeping the whirlwind moving on the right trajectory.

Story originally appeared on Racer