Proton’s historical past with Porsche dates again to the very launch of the workforce in 1996 by Gerold Ried and it has remained a loyal companion of the German marque since then. This 12 months, it increasing on the partnership by fielding one instance every of the 963 LMDh in WEC and the IMSA SportsCar Championship on prime of its common GTE Am programme with the 911 RSR.
Nonetheless, whereas Proton will proceed to be a Porsche buyer in prime lessons of each WEC and IMSA for the foreseeable future, it’s going to run a separate programme with Ford within the new LMGT3 division that may come on steam subsequent 12 months to switch the present GTE Am division.
As a part of the tie-up, Proton will turn out to be the American producer’s official companion workforce in LMGT3 and can run a pair of Ford Mustang GT3s within the class, pending approval from the WEC Choice Committee.
Porsche will as an alternative be represented by Manthey Racing, which was its manufacturing unit companion in GTE Professional till the class that was shelved on the finish of the 2022 season.
Chatting with Motorsport.com, workforce boss Christian Ried revealed that Proton did maintain talks with Porsche about operating the 911 GT3 R in WEC subsequent 12 months, however the restrict on variety of automobiles per producer prompted it to look elsewhere.
As per the principles, every producer is restricted to a most of two entries within the LMGT3 class subsequent 12 months and has to resolve which workforce or groups that may characterize it within the class.
“Whenever you’re within the paddock you communicate to all people. I like to talk with completely different folks and it is at all times good to see various things,” stated Ried.
“On the finish once you noticed what is going on on in WEC with restricted automobiles per producer in WEC, you want some choices.
“And I feel the idea, what Ford is main for and what they wish to do, I feel it actually fits the workforce, and I am positive we are able to do very well collectively.
He added: “We additionally spoke with Porsche, we have now a protracted historical past with Porsche. We’re nonetheless operating the LMDh from Porsche. Additionally GT3 was an choice.”
Photograph by: Paolo Belletti
#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR – 19: Christian Ried, Mikkel Pedersen, Julien Andlauer
Ford is ready to return to the WEC for the primary time since its GT programme got here to conclusion after the 2018/19 season, marking the top of a four-year hiatus.
Requested what it’s wish to deliver the American producer again to world championship-level sportscar racing, Ried stated: “It is at all times nice to see completely different producers, it is what makes the championship so attention-grabbing.
“Additionally we have now the nice historical past of Ford, particularly in Le Mans.
“It’s a very good programme, I am actually excited. We already began testing and the automotive seems good. So I am actually optimistic and I am positive we are able to do some good outcomes.”
Ford is deep into the event of the Mustang GT3 that’s based mostly on the seventh-generation, road-going muscle automotive, having first shaken down the car again in February.
Ried revealed that Ford has lined up a serious testing programme for the Mustang forward of its competitors debut in 2024, together with a number of 24-hour runs.
“We’ve got an enormous, large testing programme, so we do completely different tyre testing,” he stated.
“Nonetheless the automotive shouldn’t be homologated, so we have now some choices we’re doing.
“On the finish there may be for positive to do a correct testing programme to be in the absolute best situation for WEC in addition to for Le Mans. This additionally consists of 24 hour assessments.”
Ford can even be offering technical and engineering assist to Proton to assist run the Mustang subsequent 12 months, having chosen it as its sole companion for WEC.
“It is roughly the identical what each producer is doing, supporting with engineering information, engineering folks, drivetrain, automobiles, set-up,” Ried stated.
“We’ve had actually good assessments with them, they’ve actually good folks, we discovered rather a lot. I am positive will probably be the identical for subsequent 12 months.”
An announcement relating to the line-up is but to be made, with Ried refusing to remark when requested if any Ford-contracted drivers may be a part of the workforce subsequent 12 months.
Photograph by: Ford Efficiency
Ford Mustang GT3