Porsche announced it will exit the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) at the end of the 2020 season in order to save money. Racing is an extremely expensive sport, and the German company — like nearly all of its peers, partners, and rivals — has been hit hard by the ongoing coronavirus crisis at home and abroad.
"With a view to the current corporate situation in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, it is only logical for Porsche Motorsport to make a contribution to coping with the economic fallout," said Fritz Enzinger, vice president of Porsche Motorsport, in a statement. He added the decision was difficult to make.
He stressed the decision to leave will not affect the team's commitment to the 2020 season, so the mid-engined 911 RSR (pictured) will go through several sets of tires before it pulls into the pit lane for the final time. And, even when it's done racing, Porsche Motorsport will continue to fully support the privateers and customer teams who compete in IWSC's GTD category, in the Michelin Pilot Challenge (GT4), and in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA.
Porsche's exit could leave just two factory-backed GTLM teams on the 2021 starting grid: BMW, which hasn't confirmed whether it will participate yet, and Chevrolet, which will race with the thunderous Corvette C8.R. Racing is in Porsche's blood, and the firm didn't rule out making a comeback sooner rather than later.
"Porsche belongs in endurance racing. We will work hard to ensure that this is only a temporary auf wiedersehen," Enzinger pledged. No firm timeline for its return has been announced, however.
IWSC's 2020 season was cut short by coronavirus-related lockdowns, travel restrictions, and stay-at-home orders. Porsche's 911 RSR finished second in its category, behind the BMW M8 GTE, in the 24 Hours of Daytona held in January 2020 in Florida. After a long hiatus, racing is scheduled to resume on the same track on July 4. Ten races are planned before the end of the year, so Porsche still has a chance to exit the series with flying colors.
In its statement, Porsche made no mention of its commitment to the FIA's World Endurance Championship (WEC). It no longer competes in the top LMP1 category, it left at the end of the 2017 season to join Formula E, but it still races in the GTE category with the aforementioned 911 RSR. Autoblog learned from a company spokesperson that the ax is only falling on its American endurance racing program; its European efforts are safe.
"The decision about IMSA will not affect WEC racing. There are no negative decisions regarding WEC," a spokesperson told us.