9 Reasons Porsche Penske Will NOT Win IMSA Mobil 1 Twelve Hours at Sebring

Jackson Wheeler
10 Min Read

Porsche Penske Motorsport has established itself as the team to beat in the second season of the hybrid prototype GTP era after convincing endurance victories at Daytona in IMSA’s WeatherTech Championship opener and at Qatar in the WEC opener.

Sebring’s gritty conditions and a 12-hour race that ends at night, however, comprise endurance racing’s most unpredictable challenge.

imsa sebring entry list

Should it come to pass, a victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring would be a major Penske milestone—the 100th in sports car racing for the team.

The 100th win is one of several milestones on the line for Porsche at Sebring.

Porsche is seeking its 600th class win since 1952 at Sebring, as well as what would be a record-extending 19th overall victory at Sebring—America’s oldest endurance race.

Team Penske’s two cars aren’t the only Porsches out to capture win No. 600 for the manufacturer this week. There is also one Porsche in GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and three in GT Daytona (GTD).

Here are nine reasons why Penske’s Porsche 963 entries will face their stiffest endurance test thus far in 2024.

25 bmw m team rll, bmw m hybrid v8, gtp connor de phillippi, nick yelloly, sheldon van der linde

Jake Galstad

Bumps and traffic are just two factors at Sebring.

1. Sebring Is a gigantic Wild Card

The high speeds over the 3.74 miles of bumpy concrete and undulating asphalt generate all manner of unpredictable problems. Even if the car stays together, the drivers face a lot of variables.

“This track is tough on the drivers,” said Jonathan Diuguid, the managing director at Team Penske. “Nobody ever gets out of the car and says, ‘That’s the best car I’ve ever driven at Sebring.’ It’s really all about compromises.”

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Richard Dole

Team owner Roger Penske is on the verge of a few milestones this week at Sebring.

2. Porsche Penske Entries Are Not Bullet Proof

In each of its two victories this year, one of the team’s 963s suffered a technical problem that took it out of contention.

“Unfortunately, our car didn’t have such a spectacular start to the season (at Daytona) as the sister car did,” said Mathieu Jaminet, co-driver of the No. 6 Penske entry. “We weren’t able to finish on the podium and score as many points so we still have a score to settle. Hopefully, everything runs smoothly in Sebring.”

7 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp matt campbell, felipe nasr, dane cameron, josef newgarden, 6 porsche penske motorsports, porsche 963, gtp mathieu jaminet, nick tandy, kevin estre, laurens vanthoor, pit stop

Michael L. Levitt

Pit strategy can only go so far during an endurance race like Sebring.

3. The Race Really Begins at Sunset

The Penske team got into the lead during the night last year with better pit strategy only to have both cars end up in a late race three-car crash.

“Despite a lack of pace, we were suddenly on course for victory shortly before the checkered flag, only to lose it all,” said Urs Kuratle, the factory director of Porsche’s sports prototype program. “The pendulum can swing so quickly in either direction. We’re acutely aware of that.”

10 wayne taylor racing with andretti, acura arx 06, gtp ricky taylor, filipe albuquerque, brendon hartley

Michael L. Levitt

Wayne Taylor Racing is due to have a good day in the Twelve Hour.

4. The WTR/Andretti Team Is Due

Wayne Taylor’s team has not won amidst the orange groves since 2017 and returns this year with a second Acura ARX-06 entry in conjunction with Andretti Autosport. Last year, the No. 10 Acura was the fastest most of the day only to be foiled by Penske’s pit strategy and the multi-car crash with minutes to go as Felipe Albuquerque tried to regain the lead.

“Last year was chaotic, crazy, and wild,” said Albuquerque. “Most likely it will be same this year. Let’s just hope it’ll come to our end this year. The performance is there. The WTRAndretti team is super motivated.”

31 whelen cadillac racing, cadillac v seriesr, gtp pipo derani, jack aitken, tom blomqvist

Jake Galstad

The GTP class is no longer the mystery that it might have been a year ago.

5. The Second Season of GTP Means All the Manufacturers Have More Knowledge

This wealth of opportunity means the team of each of the four original manufacturers is a potential contender—with the BMW M Team RLL being the dark horse. Sebring will make for a tough debut race for the new Lamborghini SC63 of Iron Lynx.

“In our type of racing, it’s not only about one-lap speed, but it’s a lot more about the team, a lot more about having a good car for different phases of a race,” said Action Express driver Pipo Derani, a four-time winner at Sebring. “That’s when you start seeing details matter and pay dividends. I think we’re in a phase where we understand more what we need from the car, which gives us hope that we’ll improve on things that we want to improve upon from previous years.”

85 jdc miller motorsports, porsche 963, gtp tijmen van der helm, richard westbrook, phil hanson

Jake Galstad

Don’t discount the privateers at Sebring.

6. The Privateer Porsches of JDC-Miller Motorsports and Proton Competition Could Benefit from the 963’s Development by Penske and Porsche

The American JDC-Miller team is deep in Sebring experience, having finished second overall with a Cadillac DPi in 2022. A privateer victory would not sunder Penske’s dream season since the Porsche factory and the team could claim some credit. Still…

“Our tests at Sebring a few weeks ago were successful and that makes us confident,” said Richard Westbrook, who will drive the JDC-Miller team’s 963 and was part of the runner-up finish in 2022. “We’d like to continue the great run (for Porsche) so far this year.”

01 cadillac racing, cadillac v seriesr, gtp renger van der zande, sebastien bourdais, scott dixon

Michael L. Levitt

Chip Ganassi Racing is determined to go out a winner in his last season with Cadillac in 2024.

7. The Cadillac Teams of Action Express and Chip Ganassi Racing Are Hungry

This will be Chip Ganassi Racing’s last season with Caddy, which may or may not be motivational for the team that won here in 2022. Going back to the DPi era, Cadillac teams have won four of the last five at Sebring.

“I feel like we’ve been the class of the field the last two years, and it would be really good if we could put one on the board for Cadillac and that’s what we’re shooting for,” said CGR driver Sebastien Bourdais. “With how strong the competition is, we are good in any conditions. We’re going to prepare to react the best we can whatever comes our way.”

8. The weather Will Come into Play

The ambient temperature on race day is forecast to be 90 degrees, the hottest day of race week. The usually slipperiness and constant changes between different surfaces gets even more challenging on a hot day for drivers, who must battle cockpit heat as well.

4 corvette racing by pratt miller motorsports, corvette z06 gt3r, gtd pro tommy milner, nicky catsburg, earl bamber

Michael L. Levitt

It’s best to keep at least one eye on the pits during the race.

9. Pit strategy Can Keep a Team in Contention.

Cadillac clinched the manufacturer’s championship at last year’s Petit Le Mans, just edging Porsche, on the strength of its choice to pit early on its final stop. In the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Penske’s No. 7 car won with a shorter final pit stop.

Last year at Sebring, the final pit decisions resulted in the unexpected finish.

“When our car left the pits the last time last year, we were in the lead,” said Gary Nelson, team manager at Action Express. “On the final restart we were in front. But by time we got to the end of the back straight after the restart, we were fourth, because the other teams had fresher tires. I said to myself, ‘It’s in the hands of the racing gods.’ We ended up missing the big crash at the end and winning from fourth place.”

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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