Porsche is targeting to have its new LMDh car on track by the end of the year according to its factory director of motorsports Pascal Zurlinden.
The German manufacturer, which announced in December its commitment to the ACO and IMSA’s new global platform, is pushing ahead with development of the yet-to-be-named car ahead of its planned debut in 2023.
Zurlinden confirmed that its engine choice has already been finalized, with Porsche’s chassis partner to be announced this summer.
“We are working on the plan,” he told Sportscar365.
“We have a wide range of engines in the Porsche road cars and we had been looking at the best ones. We found one. We can’t speak about it [now] but the engine decision is done.
“We’re finalizing the decision on our chassis partner. We’re still working on it and is a work-in-progress.
“[The] styling [department] is working too as it’s a big part of LMDh. We already gave a sneak preview of what the car would look like in our announcement.
“We’re working on this to make it a gorgeous car. This is our target.”
An initial rollout has been earmarked for Porsche’s test track in Weissach late this year, according to Zurlinden.
“That’s the target, the end of this year, one year before racing,” he said.
“A big tradition is to roll out the cars in Weissach. I can’t say for sure as it’s too early but this would be the logical step.
“Let’s hope we have a Christmas present.
“Last year it worked with the LMDh announcement, so let’s hope we have a nice rollout to announce at the end of the year.”
Zurlinden said it’s still a “work in progress’ in ways to find “synergy” with sister brand Audi, which has also committed to LMDh with the same launch timeframe.
It’s widely believed both manufacturers will parter with Multimatic in sharing a common chassis.
“As we do on road cars, there are platform concepts and we’re working on it,” Zurlinden said of its relationship with Audi.
Audi’s LMDh program is understood to be largely customer-based with the full extent Porsche’s level of factory commitment to be determined in “a few more weeks” according to Zurlinden.
Sportscar365 understands that a factory program is likely for at least the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Porsche Supporting Drivers to Gain Prototype Experience
Zurlinden said they’ve been supportive of its factory and Porsche-affiliated drivers gaining LMP2 experience ahead of the LMDh era, particularly for those with no previous prototype experience.
Patrick Pilet and Sven Mueller have been among the Porsche drivers to have made starts in LMP2 machinery over the last six months, with Mathieu Jaminet having been slated to take part in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona before contracting COVID-19.
“It’s not that we place them somewhere, it’s their own initiative,” Zurlinden explained.
“They ask us, ‘I have an opportunity to drive there. Can I?’ We will support it because it’s a chance for them to get experience for their future.”
Zurlinden said Porsche has yet to designate its lineup of drivers for the car’s development or race programs.
“[Once we] manage to run at the end of the year, that’s the point where we’ll need to know who will be the drivers,” he said.
“If you look at how many drivers we have in the roster, or linked to Porsche, at the end we have a good roster. They’re all at a really high level.”