Penske: Supercars exit paved way for Porsche programme

Roger Penske (right) embraces Scott McLaughlin

Roger Penske has explained how his team’s withdrawal from the Repco Supercars Championship opened the door for their planned venture with Porsche.

Team Penske enjoyed a brilliant run of success in Supercars after merging with Dick Johnson Racing in late 2014.

A couple of building years led to four seasons of title contention from 2017 to 2020, netting three drivers’ championships and three teams’ championships in that period.

Penske, however, announced their long-anticipated withdrawal shortly after the 2020 season finale at Bathurst, taking Scott McLaughlin with them back to the United States to compete in the IndyCar Series.

In the absence of McLaughlin and Penske, DJR has taken a step backwards this season, albeit finding race-winning form at the most recent Tailem Bend event.

Last month, it was announced Team Penske would unite with Porsche on a programme involving the new LMDh vehicle from 2023, with two cars to run in each of the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship. Team Penske had departed from IMSA at the end of last year, having run Acuras.

Penske recently confessed the plan is for his IndyCar team to continue with a four-car model into next season – Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin are all signed; Simon Pagenaud is not as yet.

Pressed on whether that would then be viable for 2023 when its prototype racing involvement is slated to begin, Penske made the connection.

“Well we’re not running in Australia (Supercars) now, so that’s what gave us the chance to put a programme together with Porsche,” he said.

“In IndyCar, we run four cars and we can run more or we can run less.”

Elaborating further on the IndyCar situation, Penske said: “We’re at four now, based on sponsorship, but certainly with three – with the right drivers and the right execution – we can find success, deliver what’s expected.

“But right now we have the manpower for four.”

Team Penske is on an eight-race winless streak heading into IndyCar action at Road America this weekend.

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