Fred Mako: "I'm looking forward to the fight on the track" in the Porsche 963
He should have been driving the Peugeot 908 but the programme was stopped before the season started. He drove the Porsche 919 Hybrid at Le Mans, but only on Test Day as a reserve driver. Now it's his turn to drive in the top class of endurance racing. As you can see, we are talking about Frédéric Makowiecki. The development driver of the Porsche 963 LMDh was finally appointed a few days ago by Porsche, which has not, however, confirmed his 2023 programme with Porsche Penske Motorsport. Whether it will be WEC or IMSA, the answer will come by the end of the year.
At ease in all types of cars, Fred Mako has long since proved his competitiveness wherever he has gone, in Europe, Japan and the United States. The winner of the last 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE-Pro category has the opportunity to compete for the overall victory. A confirmation which came very late but which is effective.
This appointment is a great satisfaction...
I'm lucky to have been involved from the start of the programme and to have been able to complete the first laps of the Hypercar 963 prototype, without having the certainty of driving in competition. I have done my job to the best of my ability and I am delighted to be part of this new and significant challenge. In the past, the main category has only included a few manufacturers. From 2023 onwards, seven manufacturers are expected in the WEC and four in IMSA. It's going to be a battle on the track, which is what everyone wants, manufacturers, teams, promoters and fans alike. I am delighted to be part of this Hypercar adventure which is opening up a new avenue in endurance racing. I'm sure there will be big battles in IMSA and even more manufacturers in WEC.
The Porsche 963 is being tested on both sides of the Atlantic. The car has changed since the first laps ?
Logically, it has evolved since the first drive. I'm lucky enough to be connected to the programme from the start, so I'm not starting from scratch. What is true in the car in December 2022 will not necessarily be true in March 2023. It's a different way of looking at the car. When I talk about evolution, it is in the sense of understanding. It goes from the comfort of the driver in the cockpit to all the little details that can be worked on.
Is it a different feeling to win the overall as you did at the Nürburgring and at Spa?
I've been lucky enough to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 times in GT. I've experienced the big battles with 15 to 20 cars, but not for the overall. The GTE/GTLM category is anything but a sub-category when you see the battles every year. This time I have the opportunity to win races overall in a prototype. We remember the overall successes much more than the category victories.
Could we see you in GT3 again?
I'm having a lot of fun in GT and I hope to continue to perform well even if I drive less. When you concentrate on one category, it's not easy to change. Of course, if I have the opportunity to win overall at the Nürburgring and Spa, I'd love to.
Being at the beginning of the development of a prototype is enriching?
You learn a lot from developing a car. With the 963, there is the hybridisation which is an additional factor. You have to find the right compromise and not forget the fundamentals to get the most out of the car's systems with all the physics you know about a race car. It's really interesting for a driver to be able to follow a development from the beginning.
You're going to have a Balance of Performance. What are you worried about?
The Hypercar category is different with performance windows for the aero and engine. All of this should give the manufacturers enough opportunity to be close to each other without having too much of a BOP. If everyone is in a close enough window, the BOP is less important and we can say that we are facing slight adjustments. On paper, when you set up windows, everyone's ideas converge towards performance.
Can a Porsche 963 be driven like a 919 Hybrid?
It's a mix between a prototype and a GT car. The driving position, the cockpit, the power and the systems are reminiscent of a hybrid prototype. On the other hand, the driving style and the aero level are more reminiscent of a GT car.
We can feel your impatience...
I can't wait to get out there and fight it out on track. That's what I like and that's what the fans like...