This weekend Porsche proved just how far ahead of the curve it was than the competition by releasing the first actual photographs of an actual LMDh category car ahead of its 2023 season launch. There are five major automotive manufacturers joining the category for its inaugural season, but thus far Porsche is the only one to show off a finished car. That isn’t to say none of the others have a finished car, I truly hope they do, but this is our first glimpse at what LMDh will look like, and it’s looking pretty good.
Porsche doesn’t do anything in half measures, and neither does Penske Racing. Put the two together and you’ve got a powerhouse lineup of talent, be they drivers or pit engineers or aero and chassis people developing the car. There is a huge draw for talented people to join the team, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. We really hope that Porsche and Penske do well together, because this could be the beginning of a very long and fruitful relationship. Penske already built a championship-winning program for Acura, and with this move to Porsche should be able to continue that success.
Porsche and Penske have plans to run a number of test runs throughout 2022, perhaps recreating and replicating an entire season of racing in just a few weeks. Not only that, but Porsche have drafted in some of the best drivers in the world to race its new LMDh program, and many of them will continue to race full-season programs across 2022, so they’ll have extremely busy dance cards next year. These nearly 700-horsepower hybrid fire-breathing monsters will need taming, and that takes time on the race track, so there’s nothing to it but to do it.
Speaking of drivers, Porsche and Penske have hired IMSA champions Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr to join the factory driver lineup. Cameron is a 33-year-old Californian who won the IMSA prototype championship in 2016 with an Action Express Chevrolet and 2019 with Acura, as well as a GTD championship in a Turner BMW. Cameron did spend three years racing with Penske in the Acura program, but left for Meyer Shank Racing to continue with Acura when it parted ways with Penske. Nasr, meanwhile, is a Brazilian driving ace, and defending 2021 IMSA prototype champion. After a career in open-wheel saw him score 29 Formula One world championship points with Sauber in 2015 and 2016, Nasr tried unsuccessfully to transition into Formula E (three starts with no points) and IndyCar (season postponed by COVID and his seat evaporated). His real successes have come in prototypes For the last four seasons Nasr has been racing a Cadillac DPi for Wheelen Engineering, and doing a bang up job of it, taking a pair of championships in 2018 and 2021.
For 2022 Nasr will be joining the Pfaff plaid Porsche GT3 R in the series’ new GTD Pro category, but only as third driver in the endurance rounds, joining Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet for a pretty stout driver lineup. It is assumed that Nasr will also be assisting Team Penske in their LMP2 effort in the FIA WEC as the team gears up for an all-out assault on the series in 2023 with Porsche LMDh power. Cameron will presumably be full-steam-ahead on developing Porsche’s new LMDh program from the ground up. He has not been committed to any race teams for the season, and will likely be spending a lot of time in private testing both at Porsche’s facility and at rented race tracks around the world.
Felipe, in his own words: “I’m very excited to be joining the Porsche family and team Pfaff ahead of the 2022 season. I always love going to Daytona and having a shot of winning the Rolex 24; this time will be completely new to in the GTD Pro class. Hopefully it will a smooth transition and a fast learning process with the help of my well-experienced teammates Matt and Mathieu.”