Porsche has been in the headlines as of late, with the announcement that it will field a two-car full factory effort in next year’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship, while also providing more than a dozen cars to customers competing in the new GT Daytona category in 2014.
SPEED recently caught up with Porsche Motorsport North America President Jens Walther for more insight into the new 911 GT America, which will become the German manufacturer’s new customer car in America. Up to 15 cars of the GTD-specific model are expected to be produced for next year.
John Dagys: What was the reason for going with the 911 GT3 Cup car as the base model for the GTD class instead of the FIA GT3-based 911 GT3 R?
Jens Walther: “We approached the 2014 season from two sides. Should we use our GT3 R, which is the FIA GT3 car, or should we try to accommodate the Cup car and built it to the regulations of the new series? We sat together with IMSA and it appeared due to the different classes, the [GTD] class is going to be significantly slower than what we see this year, due to the GT Le Mans cars, we decided to go for the Cup car.
JD: What are some of the biggest changes from the 911 GT3 Cup car, which currently competes exclusively in Porsche Supercup, to the new 911 GT America?
JW: “The biggest change is the engine. We run the 4.0-liter engine in the car. What we’ve seen in the past is that customers in GRAND-AM were able to take a standard Cup car and modify it almost to a RSR spec. That led to a point where many customers couldn’t afford racing the car anymore because it was so expensive.
“IMSA and ourselves together wanted to bring [costs down]. The idea was to have a car, based on the Cup car, ready to race, for less than $300,000, which allows good racing and affordable pricing. Through the regulations, IMSA has informed us that they will make sure that you can’t change anything more about the cars. So all of the cars, not only the Porsches, will be homologated to a certain specification.”
JD: Will the existing 911 GT3 Cup cars from GRAND-AM and the ALMS be allowed to race in USCC next year?
JW: “Since all of the [Cup] cars in GRAND-AM are so far off spec, the only way to have a fresh start and a level ground would be not to allow all of the [current] cars. IMSA actually suggested to do this.”
JD: How many 911 GT Americas do you anticipate to be on the grid next year?
JW: “We believe that between 10-12, and maybe 15 Porsches, would be a very good field for us. We hope that there are other manufacturers in well in GTD because we like competition. We know it’s going to be a challenge to get these cars on the same level. With the performance level from GT Le Mans at the upper end, it will mean the cars will be significantly slower than this year but with IMSA we have the right people working on that and I’m very confident we’ll find the right balance of performance.”
JD: When will the factory GT Le Mans Porsche 911 RSR begin testing in the States?
JW: “We probably will not be ready for the Sebring [or the Daytona November] test with the 2014-spec car. All the focus at the moment has to be on what the modifications we will run for ’14 because we have to race them in Bahrain. So only after Bahrain we will probably have the final specification for next season.
“We need to do some testing before we go to Daytona for the Roar. At the moment, we’re still in preparation with Weissach on the the availability of the cars and parts. The partnership with CORE [autosport] needs to ramp up. We need to make sure that we hire the right people to get ready. Probably December is a good time to begin testing.”