Penske Using Petit Le Mans To Prepare For 2018, But Goal Still ‘To Win’

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Team Penske is set to compete in Sunday’s Petit Le Mans ahead of its first full-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. But that doesn’t mean it’s approaching the race as if it is a 10-hour test.

Juan Pablo Montoya on Wednesday said, despite the fact that the event at Road Atlanta will mark Penske’s return to endurance racing, the team still has one clear goal, according to Motorsport.com.

“To win, of course. I mean, Team Penske is all about winning,” Montoya said. “But the other aim is for everyone on the team to really learn about sports cars, the demands of endurance racing, how to execute, understanding the rules and give us all practice.”

The Colombian driver has been very busy as of late, setting a world record for Bugatti and testing the 2018 IndyCar, but he still has gotten lots of seat time in the Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) that the team will run in 2018. For the Petit Le Mans, Penske will field an Oreca 07, the chassis on which the ARX-05 is built, though Montoya said aero is the only differentiator between the two cars.

As a result, the IMSA season finale will help his teammates, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, get comfortable with the chassis balance before they run the Acura DPi. In fact, he claims Castroneves has had more trouble adjusting to the DPi seating position — which is lower than in IndyCar — than anything else.

“Oh yeah, Helio has been really quick and Simon has driven those cars before so he knows what he’s doing as well,” Montoya told Motorsport.com.

Although Penske has an extremely experienced driver lineup, which should help it get up to speed quickly, it will have to overcome one obstacle in its first IMSA outing.

Sunday’s forecast calls for rain, which presents a big unknown, especially for Castroneves and Pagenaud. But it even will be challenging for Montoya, who has plenty of experience in prototypes, as it’s reportedly been “eight or nine years” since he last drove one in the wet.

Thumbnail photo via Honda

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