May 12, 2023
Rockenfeller on JDC-Miller’s objectives in team’s first race with Porsche 963…
By John Dagys from sportscar365.com
Mike Rockenfeller said completing every on-track session, including finishing Sunday’s Motul Course de Monterey powered by Hyundai N, would be like a victory for JDC-Miller Motorsports in the debut weekend for its Porsche 963.
The Minnesota-based squad has become the second customer team to run the LMDh car, and the first in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with the ex-Porsche and Audi factory driver teaming up with Dutch up-and-coming driver Tijmen van der Helm in the No. 5 entry.
JDC-Miller has yet to complete any track-based testing with the car in the U.S., having taken delivery of the GTP class entry earlier this month following a rollout at Porsche’s Weissach test track with Matt Campbell at the wheel.
Friday’s practice session at Laguna Seca will mark its first competitive running, in what marks an “exciting” moment according to Rockenfeller.
“There’s a lot of things we don’t know yet,” he told Sportscar365. “I would say we all don’t have much experience. But that’s why we’re here, to learn and to start going.
“Honestly I think we can feel as winners if we do every session more or less on time, if we have no big issues, if we stay on track. If we finish the race, I’m happy.
“I would go home happy because we would learn a lot.”
He added: “We have zero laps. Those [Porsche Penske Motorsport] guys have races and tons of testing.
“If we are somehow fighting for something there with them, even if we’re last in the group, I would already be super happy.”
Rockenfeller said he’s excited to have landed a full season GTP drive, after previously contesting Michelin Endurance Cup races in recent years with Action Express Racing in the DPi era.
The 39-year-old German is also involved with NASCAR’s Garage 56 project in next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It means a lot,” Rockenfeller said of his drive with JDC-Miller. “I was fighting hard to get back into a proper cockpit.
“I spent many years of my career in a lucky situation. Five years at Porsche, 15 years in a row at Audi, so 20 years covered with a factory.
“Then everything changed very quickly at Audi and I was kind of thrown off the bus, like many others, and it was very tricky for me to find my way back.
“That’s why I’m so thankful for John [Church] and his team to give me the trust and opportunity to come back.
“I always tried to have my foot here in America while I was also racing in Europe and I think in the end that helped for sure.
“But you know how racing is, people forget what’s yesterday and that’s OK. I’m very happy to be involved.
“We shouldn’t expect too much this weekend, I would say, but hopefully throughout the year we can show the potential of the car, of our team and I can hopefully bring my part into it.”
Kuratle: JOTA Debut to Help JDC-Miller This Weekend
Porsche’s factory LMDh director Urs Kuratle believes that Hertz Team JOTA’s debut with its Porsche 963 in last month’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps helped better prepare the German manufacturer’s customer support network for JDC-Miller this weekend.
The British squad claimed a sixth place finish with its customer Porsche entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship round.
“I think there’s a lot we learned there,” Kuratle told Sportscar365. “The delivery [with JOTA] was at the same time [as JDC-Miller] and then we always had the shipment time here to the U.S.
“During the Spa race with JOTA we learned a lot of things also, mainly on our side, how to support the customer the best and what they really need.
“It’s such a complicated thing when it comes to software and everything and there’s a lot of points that we could take with us from the Spa event and we brought it straight in here to support the JDC guys as good as possible.
“I really hope for all of us, JDC and for Porsche, that we have a smooth weekend like we had in Spa, which was good.”
Kuratle said Porsche has a similar support base here this weekend for the customer GTP entry.
“It’s the same we had with JOTA in Spa,” he said. “Also back home in Weissach, we have the ops room where people are answering the questions all of us have.
“Like usual for Porsche, if you have a customer program, even the works team, there are questions asked and we’re not sending them away.”
Rockenfeller, meanwhile, is hopeful of being able to contribute to the Porsche 963’s development once JDC-Miller gets up to speed with the car.
“I hope we can give something back to Porsche in terms of learning and collecting data,” he said. “I think it’s a very complex car from what I understand. I think they’re all complex [cars in GTP].
“We just need to find a way to run it in a good window.
“My goal with the team is to get a wide operating window. If it’s too narrow, it’s hard to hit it. I think that, for us, would make our life easier.”