Penske interested in partnering with Porsche for its return to Le Mans

Tim Cindric LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
“What we are saying is that when they come back in LMP1, they know we are interested,” Penske Racing team president Tim Cindric said of Porsche.

By GARY WATKINS on 7/28/2011

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Penske Racing has “thrown its hat into the ring” to run Porsche's forthcoming LMP1 prototype when the German manufacturer returns to top-level sports-car racing in 2014, according to team president Tim Cindric.

Cindric was elaborating on comments team boss Roger Penske made on television. Penske said his organization wanted to follow up on its success with the Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 in the American Le Mans Series in 2005-08.

“With the recent announcement of Porsche going back to the Le Mans 24 Hours, we hope we can be a part of that program,” Penske said. “Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller have been stars over there [with Audi], and we'd like to get them back in a Penske Racing Porsche and see if we can't take on Le Mans.”

Cindric stressed that there had been no formal negotiations, although Penske has discussed the matter with Wolfgang Durheimer, who is in charge of motorsport in his position as R&D boss at the German sports-car marque, and Ferdinand Piech, chairman of the supervisory board of Porsche parent Volkswagen.

“What we are saying is that when they come back in LMP1, they know we are interested,” said Cindric. “I would like to think that if they look outside of Porsche [and don't run an in-house team] or race in the U.S. that they would consider us.

“We had a lot of success with Porsche and have remained in touch. There is certainly interest from our side, but any assumptions that we will be together on the new program are premature.”

Porsche has said no decision has been made as to whether it will campaign its new LMP1 design with its own team based at its motorsport headquarters at Weissach or combine forces with a partner such as Penske. The German manufacturer fielded a full-factory squad through much of the 1970s, '80s and '90s but has also been represented by teams such as JW Automotive and Joest Racing.

Penske has raced at Le Mans only once during its long history. It fielded a Sunoco-sponsored Ferrari 512M in the 1971 race but retired early with engine problems.

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