The first race of the new Porsche 963 is almost here. The car makes its debut at the 24h Daytona, which is part of IMSA. The 963 will also compete in the WEC. Each Porsche 963 has 16,705 individual parts.
On December 16, 2020, Porsche decided to develop an LMDh model for use from January 2023. The prospect of being able to use the car in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was the deciding factor. at the discretion of the executive board of Porsche AG. Less than five months later, Porsche announced its close partnership with Team Penske. A new international Porsche Penske Motorsport team was born. It operates from two locations: The IMSA championship team is based at the US team’s headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the WEC operations team is based in Mannheim, Germany. After the testing phase of the new prototype began in January 2022, the factory team is now close to making its first race at Daytona.
The new Porsche 963 makes its official race debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in the US state of Florida (January 28/29). Until then, the hybrid car has covered more than 30,000 kilometers in tests and the so-called Roar in Daytona. In the final qualifying, two factory cars finished second (starting number 7) and ninth (starting number 6). The selection of the type alone makes it clear which path the sports car manufacturer from Stuttgart is following with the Porsche 963: a new car, which produces around 500 kW (680 hp) in the race, for the top hypercar (FIA WEC) and GTP (IMSA ) classes are destined to succeed Continuing the history of the Porsche 962. The legendary model from the Group C times achieved something unique in 1986 and 1987: in both seasons, the cars went to overall success at Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona. Porsche is the record winner in all three races. There are 18 victories in each of the past editions of American endurance, and there are even 19 victories at Le Mans. Overall victory number 20 could follow in early June when the French 24-hour race celebrates its 100th birthday. The new Porsche 963 is ready for the best editions of the year.
Chassis: LMP2 base from Multimatic with a classic Porsche brand face
New cars in the LMDh category must all be based on an LMP2 chassis – as specified by the regulations. Four possible partners were found for such a project: Multimatic, Oreca, Dallara and Ligier. Following a thorough evaluation, Porsche decided early on to work with Multimatic. As the largest of the four LMP2 manufacturers, the automotive technology company based in Toronto (Canada) also contributes components to the Porsche 911 RSR, Porsche 911 GT3 R and Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. In addition to the existing business relationship, the high production capacity also spoke in favor of Multimatic – an important factor, because the Porsche 963 will also be driving as a customer car on both sides of the Atlantic in its first year of operation.
The new racing model is instantly recognizable as a genuine Porsche. Its design combines modern elements with historical credits. The front is reminiscent of the smooth shapes of the legendary 956 and 962, while the continuous light band at the back captures one of the key features of the current nine-eleventh generation 992. “The rules give us a performance window,” explains Christian Eifrig, technical director of the Porsche 963. “In terms of low and lap times, the car must be within the performance range set by the regulations. This is the only way for those who are responsible for later modifying the cars of different manufacturers using the Performance Balance,” continues Eifrig.
The so-called BoP, the classification of various vehicles into new top classes, ensures fair and exciting competition. Factors such as lower weight, higher speed or power per phase bring LMDh vehicles to a standard level of performance. “Achieving this performance window is very important,” says Eifrig. “At the same time, it is about the typical appearance of Porsche. Our difficult task was to find the perfect harmony between the best aerodynamics and an immediately recognizable design language. In order for the ACO and the FIA to accept the so-called face of the brand, it must also meet the criteria many others.The Porsche 963 received this approval immediately.
V8 turbo engine: A modern unit with roots from the Porsche RS Spyder
Although the regulations specify hybrid and transmission components as typical cost components, they provide considerable freedom in the choice of combustion engine. In principle, the following applies: The unit must be capable of producing an output of 520 kW (707 hp) and weigh at least 180 kg including peripherals. At the end of 2020, Stefan Moser, the chief engineer responsible for the Porsche 963, and his team of 18 decided in favor of the 4.6 liter engine from the Porsche 918 Spyder. This hybrid super sports car debuted at the beginning of September 2013. Shortly before that, it became the first production sports car to lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in under seven minutes.
Its eight powerful cylinders provide, among other things, high durability, high rigidity and dry sump lubrication. “The engine has a flat crankshaft and is designed with a very short stroke,” explains Moser. “This means we can wrap it very low, which allows for a lower center of gravity and better connection points for the suspension to the gearbox. The engine was not a support device in the 918, but it has high stiffness – which is also very useful for us.”
In the Porsche 918 Spyder, the high-efficiency unit works like a naturally aspirated engine without supercharging. In the new LMDh model, it works together with two turbochargers from the Dutch manufacturer Van der Lee, which only increases the ambient pressure by 0.3 bar. The chargers are placed on the “hot side”, i.e. in the 90 degree opening of the V-geometry. “The good thing is that the engine retains its basic characteristics as a naturally aspirated engine and responds directly to commands from the accelerator pedal. The relatively low pressure of acceleration increases quickly, there is no known turbo lag,” says the developer from Porsche Motorsport Center in Flacht. The conversion of the series engine to turbo operation was not difficult: almost 80 percent of all components come from the 918. Other components received additional reinforcement so that the unit in the 963 could act as an auxiliary component. Another advantage of the 4.6-liter engine: In the Spyder 918, Porsche has already positioned the car to interact with hybrid components.
Common components of the electric power system come from the manufacturers Bosch (motor generator unit, electricity and software) and Williams Advanced Engineering (high-voltage battery). The unit known as the Motor Generator Unit (MGU), which is responsible for generating power and restoring power to the rear axle during braking phases, works in direct interaction with the standard transmission of the Xtrac brand. The MGU is installed in the bell housing between the combustion engine and the switching unit. The entire hybrid electric system works with a high voltage of 800 volts. A standard battery stores a usable energy of 1.35 kWh, which can be called up at any time during acceleration phases. An output of 30 to 50 kW (40 to 68 hp) is available for a short time, but does not change the overall performance of the power train. If the MGU starts to accelerate, the power of the combustion engine, which rotates at more than 8,000 rpm (according to the specification), is automatically reduced. The rules dictate the power output precisely.
The 4.6-liter biturbo V8 with the local name Porsche 9RD has its original roots in the RS Spyder division. In the hands of then-customer team Penske, the race car won all the titles in the LMP2 class of the then American Le Mans Series between 2006 and 2008. During that time, the engine in the yellow and red model was and 3.4 liters. However, the design and concept still meet the highest requirements in modern motorsport. “The V8 engine is also suitable to work with CO2-enhanced fuel, so-called bio-based fuel,” says Stefan Moser happily. In this area, Porsche has taken a pioneering role with the introduction of environmentally friendly fuel in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup since the 2021 season. The experience gained there with the 911 GT3 Cup also helps with the excellent performance of the new Porsche 963.