Pascal Zurlinden, Porsche’s head of factory motorsport, has ruled out the possibility of a full Porsche works effort for IMSA’s new-for-2022 GTD Pro category as it would clash with its customer racing philosophy.
IMSA is set to switch from the current GTE-based GTLM category to a new ruleset based on the global FIA GT3 regulations, as the works presence for the GTE formula had been declining for some time.
Porsche previously was a pillar of the GTLM category, until it ended the American works effort at the end of the 2020, citing the financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for withdrawing.
It has maintained a presence in the category for the 2021 season, as it supports the privateer WeatherTech Racing operation, and also offers some support to various teams in the current GTD class, but currently does not have a full works presence in the series.
According to Zurlinden, this is unlikely to change for the introduction of the GTD Pro class in 2022, as Porsche won’t run a full factory effort in a class designed for customer racing.
“At the end, as we always say, GT3 is customer, [without] a factory team,” Zurlinden said. “If a customer comes to us and says ‘do you want to run, do you have factory drivers’ and we can do something, we would would support it, but as every customer programme worldwide. So it is a customer decision.”
He went on to reiterate that any Porsche presence in the GTD Pro category would have to be similar to the current WeatherTech Racing operation: privately entered, with a limited amount of factory support, as opposed to a full works operation.
“It must be a customer, because GT3 is customer driven, not factory driven,” Zurlinden stated.
With IMSA abandoning the dwindling GTLM class in favor of a GT3 approach, it has led some to wonder if the ACO itself could ultimately go down the same route and implement a GT3-based category in the future.
Zurlinden recognizes the upsides such a decision could have, but once more underlines that he believes it should not interfere with the customer-based philosophy, which is currently one of the formula’s strongest assets.
“It is one of the options on the table. And probably it’s one which could seduce many customers when you see we sold 83 911 GT3 Rs the last two years. So there are many cars that are like this around. The question is: do we take this car, is it a Le Mans kit or anything? It is still open.”
“But it really is an option which, I would say, from a financial point of view for customers and for manufacturers, is probably the right solution.”
“But GT3 is a customer racing class. So what is important is that it stays with the customers, and that is does not become a factory [approach] with GT3, because this would be a wrong signal towards customers worldwide.”
When asked if Porsche would participate in a possible GT3-based class in the WEC, Zurlinden remained cautious.
“It could be, but that is never the target for Porsche. Because GT3 is definitely a customer category.”