Breaking cover in a top secret, unexpected world debut late on Friday at the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, Porsche showed their exhilarating hand for the 2023 endurance racing season. Wheeled onto the famous Goodwood Hill start line cloaked beneath a black cover, the Porsche 963 LMDh was finally revealed amongst a throng of camera flashes to the watching world. Sporting a perfect Porsche livery of white, red and black, the 963 already evokes Le Mans success, long before its tyres have touched French tarmac.
Dane Cameron on experiencing the Porsche 963 for the first time
Watching the 4.6-litre twin-turbo V8 with a total system output of 680PS (500kW) roar past Goodwood House, the 963 LMDh instantly projected a sense of impending authority on the endurance racing world. But what was it actually like to be behind the wheel of what everyone and their dog are tipping as a future icon? We managed to steal a five-minute chat with the man who holds the answers, Porsche Works Driver, Mr Dane Cameron.
Having won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship in 2016 and 2019, and recently driving to a very impressive fifth place in a Team Penske LMP2 Oreca 07-Gibson on his Le Mans debut, Dane is a man on the crest of a wave. A man who must surely be excited for what’s to come, despite his calm and cool exterior.
“I really enjoyed my first Le Mans. It was quite a special race, especially having fans back. It’s exactly like it is here. Everyone is excited to get back to an event and a racetrack. It was really cool to feel that atmosphere again.”
“It was nice to do the first one with fans and not to do it alone, that’s for sure. It's certainly a special, special race. We finished P5 in the end in LMP2, which is very competitive. We had a few issues here and there over the day, but we were fighting from P2 to P5 for most of the day, which I was happy with.”
With the first Le Mans 24 ticked off the list, Dane’s next responsibility was being the man in the hotseat for the world debut of the 963 LMDh. Along with the car he, too, was shrouded by the cover before the big reveal.
“It was a unique experience for sure! I started to hear I was going under the cover to be pushed out within the car. Suddenly I'm strapped into the thing and they cover us up and we’re pushed out on the skates. Getting wheeled around I didn't have any idea where we were or which way we were facing. I was in it for maybe 10 or 15 minutes before being able to see. Coming to the start line I really didn’t know where I was, but then they pulled the sheet off and suddenly there's everyone there in front of you. All the cameras and everything. It was a wow moment. Really cool."
Being Cameron’s first ever time at Goodwood, he must have felt like all eyes were firmly fixed on him. Yet despite having only one warm up run in a GT3 to familiarise himself with the challenge of the Duke’s front driveway, Cameron showed all the class that secured him a Porsche Works drive in the first place. Expertly and safely piloting the world’s newest prototype racer to the top of the Goodwood Hillclimb.
“I was still a bit lost in terms of where I was going on the way up. But it was just really, really cool to be in the car as we took it to the public for the first time. Once we got to the top and could see all the other drivers come running out with cameras and phones everywhere to get a glimpse of it up close, you realise how significant the moment was.”
With a few months of development and testing time already behind him, 8,000km in total, Dane exudes a serene sense of calm and confident professionalism when looking ahead.
“It's obviously new for me to drive a hybrid car, so that brings some challenges and a lot of interesting things that are possible. But at the end of day, it's still a prototype race car. So it still drives very much in line with other LMP2s and DPis and LMP1 cars I've driven in the past. But with the new set of regulations it's a bit lower on downforce than a DPi car, but quite strong on power as well, especially with the hybrid motor.”
“Overall, things have been going really well. We've been working through our big job lists to prepare this new challenger for the 2023 season. There's a lot of excitement and expectation. When Porsche comes to race anywhere, there's always an expectation to be up front and winning. Their prototype history is incredibly successful, so to return for them to top flight prototype racing is hugely exciting. Having worked with Team Penske I also know what they can bring to the table. When we consider all those elements, we certainly have all the necessary ingredients to be successful.”
Stood next to the car in the Festival of Speed Assembly Area on Saturday afternoon, the 963 LMDh is still utterly mobbed by drivers and press alike. And after taking up too much of Dane’s time, we wish him well, shake his hand, and let him get back to his conversation with Mark Webber that we rudely interrupted. But before we go, Dane, with steely eyes, fires a warning shot across the bows of all his future competitors.
“We'll do our best this year to prepare the car as well as possible to come out fighting, prepared to win.” It’s a tantalising prospect, raising our anticipation for when the lights to go out on the 2023 season.
The Porsche 963 LMDh will be heading up the Hill throughout the weekend here at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and you can watch every single moment on our live stream!
Photography by Jordan Butters, Michal Popisil and Pete Summers.
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