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Matt Campbell’s “surreal” start to 2024

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Porsche Penske Motorsport
Porsche Penske Motorsport driver Matt Campbell at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January

Porsche Penske Motorsport driver Matt Campbell talks about his incredible start to the 2024 season.

Matt Campbell has had an astonishing start to the 2024 season. Having switched across from the IMSA WeatherTech Sportswear Championship to drive full-time in the World Endurance Championship’s Hypercar class, the Australian has quickly hit his stride, scooping up trophies in his wake. A long-time Porsche driver, motorsport is in Matt Campbell's blood. While his grandfather helped develop the local Morgan Park Raceway in Queensland, Australia, Campbell developed his driving skills from a young age. Moving to Formula Ford aged 14, he first raced a Porsche at the end of 2021, and after three years in various Porsche one-make series, Campbell was selected as Porsche Junior driver. A year later, he became a Porsche Young Professional Driver. The IMSA to WEC swap, which saw Campbell switch seats with Dane Cameron, has been “quite easy so far” for the Australian, who previously drove in the WEC’s GT class from 2018 to 2021, and says he is “pretty happy so far with everything's gone.” That’s not surprising given his stellar start to 2024. Kicking off the year with an overall victory at IMSA’s iconic 24 Hours of Daytona, Campbell then took a dramatic victory at the Bathurst 12 Hours with the Manthey EMA Porsche team. Next up was the Prologue and opening WEC round in Qatar at Lusail International Circuit. Campbell set the fastest overall time of the Prologue in the #5 car, with a Porsche 963 topping every session.

Discussing the momentum he had already achieved so far ahead of the race weekend, Campbell says: “It’s been a phenomenal start to the year, quite surreal to be honest, but learnt a lot already with the car last year racing in IMSA and now coming across to the WEC. “It’s quite different, but luckily I have quite a lot of WEC experience already from the past from 2018 to 2021, but that was in a GT car. “So now in the Hypercar and this year I think it’s a really good year to be able to transition back to the WEC with now the change of regulations also, with a lot of new cars and the GT3 cars as well. “So a good mix and a little bit fresh for me to be able to come across. Looking forward to the challenge, obviously I’ll be able to compete a lot more for the first time overall, so that will be exciting, and looking forward to the challenge ahead. “I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to it. This weekend, our pace has been quite strong so far and also in Prologue, so hopefully we can continue the momentum.”

Continue the momentum he did, going on to claim Porsche’s first Hypercar pole position in just its second season in the class. Campbell set a time of 1m39.347s to take the first pole for an LMDh car in the WEC, just over a tenth clear of his closest rival. Speaking directly after the session, an elated Campbell said he was “still pinching myself at the results that’s been happening so far. To get a pole position as well, I don’t know what else to say.”

Campbell went on to finish the race in third before replicating that result at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, as he continues to race in IMSA’s endurance rounds alongside his WEC campaign. He believes competing in both championships will “really help a lot behind the scenes to be able to help develop the car and speed up the development process in terms of systems and so forth,” and adds: “This has really helped the global programme as a whole, especially from mid-year on where we really started to find some more speed in our cars.” Asked whether those rounds will also help with developing consistency across the year, Campbell says “most definitely. “I think as well, for this year for both championships, we have the experience from the last year already. Our cars have already been to all the tracks that we're visiting apart from Lusail for the WEC, but everywhere else we've been, so we already have that knowledge behind us. “Going into each and every race weekend for both championships, we should be in a lot better position than we were compared to last year when everything was new, and you're more or less learning on the fly. So now we can be more focused on the development of the car and the race weekend rather than you know, trying to find a performance from the setup.” Having spent much of his career racing GT cars before graduating to prototypes last year, Campbell is no stranger to changing machinery. But what about the differences between championships?

Campbell says rules and strategy are the main points of divergence between IMSA and WEC, while drivers also receive more tyres per weekend in the American series. “Certainly on the rule front, IMSA, I would say there's a lot more strategy involved,” he explains. “We also get a lot more tyres, whereas compared to WEC, you obviously get a lot less tyres in the weekend and this means you have to double stint basically all the time. So this obviously makes it a lot more difficult. “The race setup is a lot more critical as you've obviously got to look after the tyres. And especially around such a track as Lusail, this is extremely important, so we've really been focusing on this so far in the lead up to the race.” Campbell’s WEC swap gives him the opportunity to compete for every driver’s dream - an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - which he is “obviously excited for.” He said: “I’ve competed there five times but it’s always been in GTM, so this time will be a new challenge. Looking forward to it. Obviously, I was sitting on the sidelines last year, so that was quite depressing in a way. But nevertheless, happy to finally make that debut this year. “I won in class in 2018, and had another couple of podiums in between that time period. But hopefully, you know, we can replicate something like that this year. There's a clear goal from Porsche, and also Penske that we're going for the outright victory. “At Le Mans, we all want it extremely badly, and for sure, I want to add that overall victory to my CV just like I did in Daytona this year having had a class win there as well, from the past, so definitely want to get that one off the bucket list.” With the start to the season Campbell has had, if he continues the strong performances he is known for, that dream could become a reality with Porsche Penske Motorsport at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

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