We live in a world where normal expectations have a tendency to be seriously bent with little warning. More proof arrived this week when Porsche, the most successful manufacturer in the recent history of international sports car racing, announced that it’s withdrawing from the factory-based GT Le Mans class of the WeatherTech IMSA Sports Car Championship following the conclusion of the 2020 IMSA season, which resumes next month at Daytona. Like virtually every other automaker, Porsche has seen its commercial fortunes crater amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a reality that the Weissach firm said drove its decision to pull back from IMSA. The development wasn’t wholly unexpected: Last month, Porsche disclosed that it wouldn’t be bringing its IMSA teams, fielded by South Carolina-based CORE Motorsports, to the rescheduled 24 Hours of Le Mans in September, reducing its involvement in the Sarthe’s GTE Pro category from four to just two examples of the 911 RSR. Porsche did add that it intends to go out at IMSA by successfully defending its 2019 GT Le Mans title, and that it will continue to support customer who campaign the 911 GT3 in IMSA.
“The decision to halt our factory involvement in the IMSA series was not an easy one for us,” emphasises Fritz Enzinger, vice president of Porsche Motorsport. “With a view to the current corporate situation in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, it is only logical for Porsche Motorsport to make a contribution to coping with the economic fallout. We’ve openly discussed our exit with all involved. At this point, we’d like to convey our sincere thanks to Jim France and the colleagues at IMSA for their understanding. Porsche belongs in endurance racing. We will work hard to ensure that this is only a temporary Auf Wiedersehen.”
It’s been a rough few months for sports cars, both in IMSA and those involved with the FIA World Endurance Championship. Chevrolet recently announced that it won’t be taking its new, mid-engine Corvette C8.R to Le Mans, and the global scene is still coming to grips with Aston Martin’s decision to pull out of the forthcoming, enormously promoted Hypercar prototype class. For its part, Porsche is already on record that it’s exploring a possible foray into IMSA’s new LMDh prototype class, which is expected to replace the existing DPi category, formerly known as Daytona Prototype, in 2022.