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We peek inside Porsche’s private Le Mans race car test

Enlarge / Porsche knows the road to a Le Mans win involves tens of thousands of miles of testing. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Porsche provided flights from DC to Daytona Beach and back, plus a night in a hotel so we could attend its private 963 test. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.—Car companies like to keep new models far from prying eyes during the development process. That goes doubly so when they’re going racing, like Porsche is with its new 963, which made our invitation to watch the car test on Friday, while still in development, a rare chance to watch expertise at work. Doubly so considering that Porsche’s partner with the 963 is Penske Racing, an organization that has racked up more than 600 wins across a range of disciplines over the past 56 years.

The 963 has been built to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and endurance races like it and will compete next year in IMSA’s new GTP category as well as the FIA WEC’s Hypercar class. Built to a rule set known as LMDh, it’s more of a collaboration than the Porsche crest on the nose might lead you to expect. Multimatic in Canada provides the car’s carbon-fiber spine, or chassis. Xtrac supplies the transmission, Williams Advanced Engineering provides the lithium-ion traction battery, and Bosch is responsible for the electric motor/generator unit, all three of which are tightly packaged together.

But Porsche has built the twin-turbocharged 4.6L V8, which traces its roots back to the mid-2000s RS Spyder race car, with a road-going derivative also found in the 918 Spyder hypercar. Power is capped at 680 hp (500 kW) for the internal combustion engine and hybrid system working together and is measured by sensors to ensure no one gets over-creative.

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