Building a World-Class Sports Car Program

January 24, 2023

Prior to the debut race for Porsche Penske Motorsport at Daytona International Speedway for this weekend's Rolex 24, Jonathan Diuguid, Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport, shared what it takes to build a top-level global motorsports program from the ground up .

Watch Porsche Penske Motorsport compete in the Rolex 24 this weekend as the team takes the green flag from the front row. Live Rolex 24 coverage begins on Saturday, January 18 at 1:30 PM ET on NBC.

Q: Explain the process of building the program from its public announcement in December 2021 to now?

“The relationship with Porsche started internally around the Indy 500 in 2021 and we had several engineers and a few technicians embedded with Porsche from that point located in Germany. We had a large contingent of the team spend the last three months in Weissach, Germany putting the first test car together and final touches on the design. 2022 was all about preparation and Team Penske entered an LMP2 car in the WEC championship to get exposure to that series . While that was going on we we’re also conducting an extensive testing program where we’ve done close to 30,000 kilometers (over 18,000 miles) of testing including a 36-hour endurance test at Sebring. We’re just trying to make sure we’re all prepared to go racing in 2023. A lot of hard work has happened over the past 18 months to get us to where we are. As we look to Daytona, we’re excited to showcase that work.”

Q: Porsche Penske Motorsport is one of two teams running both the IMSA and WEC season. What are some of the advantages of having the same organization participating in both series?

“I think there’s a lot of advantage from a personnel and staffing standpoint, but also to help build a well-rounded team. The LMDh platform (GTP in IMSA, Hypercar in WEC) is designed to run in both the US and European championships. It’s the same car, but we have to take input from people who’ve raced in both series before. On the personnel side, having a shop and people based in Germany close to Porsche has enabled us to build and test cars at the same time. The time differences and deploying staff around the world has been an advantage too.”

Q: The driver lineup for both IMSA and WEC is impressive. What do you believe is the strong suit of the pairs that are in place?

“The strong suit of the pairings we’ve put together is all of them are champions, won big races and have been in manufacturer programs before. They’ve been under a lot of pressure, but also have diverse driving backgrounds. From GTs, Formula 1, Formula E and INDYCAR, these guys know what it takes to win and what a developed race car should feel like.”

Q: What excites you the most about the new platform and regulations?

“It’s a lot of manufacturers going for big wins and the level of competition and number of cars racing will be double in most cases. Sports car racing hasn’t seen this in the last 20 years. When you have that many manufacturers participating, the racing and team quality will continue to improve. Being able to compete against those type of teams makes winning more fulfilling.”

Q: What’s the feeling at Porsche headquarters and in both the stateside and Germany shops seeing the brand return to the top levels of sports car racing?

“Racing is in Porsche’s DNA and it’s how they built their brand identity in both prototype and GT racing. Being able to take that pedigree and history and combine it with Team Penske for these overall wins at Daytona and Le Mans is exciting for everyone involved in the project. Being able to cooperate with the Germany and U.S. bases brings another aspect to the team and program where it’s exciting for everyone to take a global approach.”

Q: What are the similarities and differences of the previous Penske RS Spyder program run in the mid-2000s compared to Porsche Penske Motorsport?

“There’s some similarities between the programs. We have a few familiar faces that were involved in the RS Spyder program back in the mid-2000s. There’s a line of pedigree that comes from the engine block so there’s some lineage there. Outside of that the similarities stop; the program today is a hybrid platform that adds a lot of complexity. It’s also a global platform which has given us the opportunity to compete at all the big races. In general racing has become more competitive and complicated. What we’re doing now with a global program in Porsche Penske Motorsport is a lot larger and more complex. Regardless we’re excited about the opportunities it brings.”

Q: The ‘Penske Way’ has always been promoting talent from within. You started as a team engineer on the RS Spyder program, lead engineer on the Acura program, and now you’re the Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport. Can you speak to that philosophy and what it means to you?

“Roger says it often when he gives speeches - ‘our team is built on the people.’ I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with Roger and Tim Cindric (President, Team Penske) over the years. I’ve been challenged every year I’ve been here and look at the role I’ve been given the opportunity to take on as the Managing Director of Porsche Penske Motorsport. We’ve assembled a team that can continue to build on the history Porsche and Penske have built together and push us closer to 700 wins.”