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Get to know new Porsche Penske Motorsport general manager Jan Lange

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WEC
Porsche Penske Motorsport

Jan Lange joined Porsche Penske Motorsport as team principal and general manager in November 2023 - here’s what he’s hoping to achieve.

Jan Lange is all smiles in the World Endurance Championship paddock in Qatar. Having joined Porsche as general manager in November, he will oversee the team’s second season in the Hypercar class - a season which already looks set to be fruitful after conquering the opening round. With a slightly adapted structure for 2024, Lange will serve in both leadership roles of the Mannheim-based team, supported by team manager Francis Schammo and Tobias Dürheimer as business & operations manager. Though he is new to Porsche, the German native is no stranger to endurance racing, having spent 15 years with stalwart Joest Racing. His career began with HWA in the DTM, but he soon left sprint racing to join Joest as a race engineer in 2008, while they were running three cars for Audi in the LMP1 era. Lange served in several roles, including operations manager and team manager, until Audi dropped out in 2016. The team then moved to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, working with Mazda Motorsport in the DPi era - a project he was made head of. When COVID struck, things came to a halt, but a new opportunity soon presented itself: working back in the WEC on the Glickenhaus LMH car. Three seasons later, a call came from Mannheim, and Lange’s tenure at Porsche began - “an ideal opportunity,” he says. Four months on, he says he is settling in well - though what the job entails is “a long list to cover".

“On one hand, we have the workshop and all the operations in Mannheim, on the other competing at the track,” he continues. “You see progress every day, and that's the important thing, even if it's a long list. And we made very good progress over the last four months. Still, some things to come, but I would say the base is there and now we have to live the processes and stick to what we invented, what we agreed, what we trained.” It is clear that progress has already been made within the team, having taken victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January and now in Qatar. The IMSA win has boosted morale in the team, with the engineering crew supporting from Weissach as an early bonding exercise, and Lange believes it’s a “big momentum” to bring into a new WEC season. Lessons were learned from a tough maiden campaign, and though Lange wasn’t with the team in 2023, reflects from an outside perspective.

“I just had a look from the outside, from a team competing against Porsche Penske Motorsport,” he says. “It shows that even if you have big names and brands coming together and joining forces, it's not set that you will win in the first year; it's not that easy. So, for me, I think in-depth analysis was done last year, and the right decisions were made. Now it's up to the team to execute it.” He continues: “I think that it's a good opportunity to bring people from the outside in who have a different view. Obviously, it was two tough years, starting from scratch with a new car and the car development - I went through that phase other projects and my old team before - so that's kind of normal. And now, as everything has settled in, we will be a lot more competitive.”

The road to Le Mans

As ever, all roads lead to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and an overall win is Lange’s biggest ambition for the season. The team had a tough time at the Circuit de la Sarthe last year, with the highest finishing Hypercar the No. 5 car in 16th, while the No. 6 was 22nd overall and No. 75 failed to finish. With just over 100 days to go until the blue riband event, how does Lange feel preparation has been going? “I mean, for me, it's not the Le Mans preparation because for me, it's everyday to prepare to be in the position when you have the performance to execute to win the race,” he says. “So it's the same here, it will be the same in the European rounds and with Le Mans. “It builds up to when you arrive in Le Mans and then actually, that's the base. That’s all the tools and equipment and the performance you have in your hand, you don't invent anything new when you are in Le Mans. At least you shouldn't, because that would be a last call.

“Le Mans is not a race you win. For me, it's always Le Mans lets you win. So we just need to execute perfectly when we have everything. We need to be prepared for every situation that could come up. We all in the team have a lot of experience, we did several Le Mans. “If you look through the engineering crew, if you look through the mechanics crew, some of them are doing that for 20 and more years. So, I think there are many scenarios we can think of we can train before and that is what we will do. It's always a question of what you can achieve with all the tests, with all the races going on, but that's the aim.” Now Porsche has taken its first Hypercar class WEC win, things are looking even more positive for Le Mans. With two more rounds at Spa and Imola taking place before June to continue improving, the charge to Porsche’s first overall Le Mans victory since 2017 - and a milestone 20th for the manufacturer - is on.

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