How Porsche Penske Hit the Ground Running in 2024
Photo: DPPI

How Porsche Penske Hit the Ground Running in 2024

Porsche Penske’s successful start to the 2024 FIA WEC season at the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812kms race last weekend owes a great deal to the infrastructure put in place over the last year according to one of its talismanic leaders, Roger Penske.

The completion of a bespoke Porsche Penske facility in the Friedrichsfeld district of Mannheim was completed and opened publicly only last month.

But the history of the facility, which was originally the Porsche Centre until 2014, has now been modified in to a state-of-the-art base for the Porsche Penske operation.

This work on this transformation began in December 2020 after the Porsche AG board approved the development of the new Porsche 963 Le Mans prototype and renewed its collaboration with the Penske team in May 2021. Extra work began on the building complex on Lembacher Straße in Mannheim and the facility offers around 4,500 square metres of usable space.

“I think the competitive advantage we have right now is we're one organisation,” said Penske, who celebrated his 87th birthday last month. 

“A year ago, we were building Mannheim and we were having to hire people trying to come together with a new product, which was highly technical and we were relying on common parts coming from outside vendors, which we had no ability to change.” 

That process of building the operation is now baring fruit with Andre Lotterer, Laurens Vanthoor and Kevin Estre taking a conclusive victory last Saturday to take an early lead in the 2024 FIA WEC title fight.

Penske added that he knew that 2023 would be a building year, with the emphasis on making sure that the operational and technical structure was in place to ensure it could at least challenge for wins and titles in 2024 as it carries out a duel programme in the WEC and in IMSA with the GTP categorised cars.

Part of that plan is knowing that they would also be racing against the same Porsche 963 design in other customers hands.

“We understood what the playing field was going to be at the beginning very the very beginning and we said fine, we just want to to go forward here and the customers had the opportunity to put their cars together also,” added Penske. 

“They (customer teams) had the access and the expertise, the people that are on the ground here with them now, and, that's good because we want to see a Porsche win.

“Obviously we want it to be one of ours. But on the other hand, if the Porsche programme can win that’s great.

“I understand how important it is for Porsche to be successful, because it helps the brand on a worldwide basis from the standpoint of notoriety and what it stands for. 

“So, we want to be sure we're part of that.”

Penske’s words sound characteristically modest in light of the 1-3 result for Porsche Penske in Qatar, and the 1-2-3 podium sweep for Porsche as JOTA joined the party with an excellent runners-up performance.

But you can be sure that this will be just the start of the silverware being collected by the team as the 2024 season wears on.