Porsche Motorsports welcomes an exciting, and excited, new head.
We recently had a much enjoyed conversation about global motorsports (great to have those again now), and it was wonderful. It was, as many are nowadays, online. Still, it gave a wonderful chance to get insight into how a top marque and a top team handle their motor racing and motorsports worlds.
The reason for this virtual meetup was to get the chance to speak with German Engineer Thomas Laudenbach, the person who now has the challenging but enviable job of running Porsche Motorsport. Challenging because even though it is Porsche and it is generally in the lead for just about everything, the group actually challenges itself as well as others.
Mr. Laudenbach assumed the position on October 1, 2021, taking over from Fritz Enzinger who has been at the help since 2011. Mr. Laudenbach joined Porsche AG in 1998, and handled such cars and racing projects as the 918 Spyder, 911 RSR and the 911 GT3 cup until 2013.
The new boss answered many questions, and the answers happily led past the basics and gave true deep insight into plans and the way the company thinks and operates. When asked for example if Porsche would field factory teams for more race series, his response was telling and refreshing. They might win but they would kill the series. When a top company enters a series that is primarily customer racing, he explained, they can make it uncompetitive. Better to support it when and how they can rather than jump in. If, for example, they chose to help one of their customer teams in a particular series, they could do it by providing additional technical or management support or even have one of their factory drivers race. This works both ways, because it allows the customer team to perhaps be more competitive and learn from a top driver, but it also gives the factory driver more seat time and exposure to more environments and circuits.
That would be for Porsche customer teams racing against other makes. But the quite fun point Mr. Laudenbach made was that there are currently around 30 one-make (Porsche) racing series being run all over the world. These are race series’ that are usually organized by someone in the local racing scene, perhaps the distributor or a local motorsports organization. They are not initiated by Porsche AG. That is an astounding number and an unprecedented one. Why the success? Yes, everyone loves Porsche but the key points included what race teams really have to look at. Many people don’t realize that Porsche builds more racecars than they think. To be successful, it has to be a fair product at a fair price. It must be a good racecar of course, well engineered and easy to handle. It also must be financially viable for it to make sense. Many teams will buy a new car and run it for a year or two then sell it to another team who will run it on their own, and so on. The values still remain high. Everything must need to work, financials, organization, the product itself.
On the world circuits where Porsche Motorsports will field their own factory teams, things are exciting as well. A new convergence between different top world series was announced in July that will allow Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete in the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship beginning in 2023. This allows more racing more efficiently and more financially justifiably.
What does he see for the future? Better racing. New regulations that monitor and control balance of performance in top series’ means that we shouldn’t expect domination as we have seen in the past. It will be much harder for a team to win a series championship repeatedly. This isn’t necessarily great for Porsche, which has done things like win Le Mans a record 19 times, but it is great for better racing.
“It’s a wonderful challenge” said Mr. Laudenbach on his new leadership role. “We will adapt motorsport to the changed conditions in the automotive industry – from customer racing to factory involvement in the major racing series around the globe. We have our sights firmly set on claiming our 20th Le Mans victory, we want to win world championships – both in endurance racing and in Formula E. It’s also important to continue developing our customer racing. With the Mission R concept study, we are showing how attractive this can look.”