Over the course of 36 hours at the world-famous Sebring International Raceway, Porsche and its driving crew managed to rack up an incredible 4,555 miles of race-pace testing. Sebring is, of course, among the toughest tracks in the world on a car; its surface consists of decades-old concrete slabs laid in the run up to World War II. The track has inexplicably become quite proud of its deteriorated state, requesting that fans and drivers “respect the bumps”, but however you feel about the Floridian track’s terrible condition it makes for a really good test location, as it shakes cars apart in quick order. For the 963 to last 36 hours here at race pace is a true testament to the car’s stout nature. That’s three consecutive runs of the track’s famed 12 Hours of Sebring event each spring, which is truly gnarly enough one at a time.
According to Porsche this was the car’s first proper endurance test, and they managed to pound out 1218 laps of the circuit in 36 hours. Considering the winning team at the 12 Hour this year managed to run just 351 laps, Porsche ran a pace average about 4 miles per hour faster than that. Of course the Porsche ran without any Prototype competition or GT traffic, that’s probably about right. In addition to the endurance test, Porsche ran 372 miles of setup and run-in on Tuesday and Wednesday before starting the test at 8AM on Thursday and finishing at 8PM on Friday. There were nine factory-supported international drivers on hand for the test, including Porsche Formula E driver Pascal Wehrlein and 963 development driver Frederic Makowiecki, but Porsche didn’t divulge exactly who else was involved in the test. We’d be surprised if already-announced drivers like Felipe Nasr and Matt Campbell weren’t involved, but probably won’t ever know for sure.
The new Porsche race car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 derived from the engine found in the decade-old hybrid hypercar 918, itself rooted in the engine design from the LMP2 RS Spyder (which was also run by Penske here in IMSA competition). Since the car started its testing regimen in January, it has covered more than 15,000 miles at race tracks around the world. I don’t think I’ve put that many miles on my street car since January! The car will make its competition debut in January at the 24 Hours of Daytona, so keep an eye out for that. We’ll be there to see it happen live, and you should be too!