Although both of its Porsche Penske Racing 963 GTP cars led laps on its debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, only the #7 car finished the race, 34 laps behind the winner – after a lengthy delay to replace its energy storage system.
The #6 entry, which looked likely to contend for the win until Sunday morning, retired with a broken gearbox.
Porsche now has just over six weeks to analyze data from Daytona, before the Sebring 12 Hours on March 18 – when the 963 will also make its FIA World Endurance Championship debut at the double-header event.
“We will learn quick and we will have answers and results from all the issues we had,” said Kuratle. “Whether the race result looks different [at Sebring] or not, I hope so, we will do everything that it looks different.
“We definitely learned a lot of lessons here and there were a lot of firsts, issues we never had before that we saw the first time on the car, even though we did 30 thousand, or whatever, kilometres before the actual race. Yeah, there is a lot to analyze.”
#7 Team Penske Porsche 963: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
Kuratle also revealed that the #7 suffered a further delay due to a broken water pipe: “There was a water leak from the combustion engine. A water pipe broke – it was a first as well.
“We had many firsts with issues that we never faced before, and [now have] a lot to do after this race.”
Despite the reliability issues, Porsche did look to be in the fight for victory in the inaugural race for LMDh cars in the GTP class, that feature a common electrical hybrid system. But a spin for Nick Tandy on Sunday morning, after a clash with an LMP3 car, cost three laps while bodywork was repaired.
Tandy told Motorsport.com: “I went to the inside at The Kink, fully alongside like we do every three laps with them, and I don’t know if he thought he could turn in but there was no room. Because these cars are so wide I had to go up on the inside kerb, and I was already shallow turning in, and we were at the end of a triple stint on the SLT tyres – not that it should make any difference.
“The thing snapped, so I bailed out on to the grass, thinking I’ll just rejoin at the next corner. Then I smashed into what I thought were polystyrene boards, but they’re weighed down by massive sandbags, so it ripped the thing to pieces! That caused us an issue.
“It should have been an innocuous trip across the grass. In retrospect, I could have waited, but I’d done it 100 times before in the race already.”
Tandy then produced a sparkling recovery drive, which included passing Simon Pagenaud in the race-winning Meyer Shank Racing Acura, and got back to within a lap of the lead.
But his day ended soon after when the car’s gearbox casing exploded on the banking at NASCAR Turn 2, and he was forced to trundle back to the pits using the electric motor where the team chose to retire the car.