JDC-Miller MotorSports announced Wednesday (April 26) that Mike Rockenfeller and Tijmen van der Helm will drive the team’s new Porsche 963 full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, effective immediately. The new customer Porsche 963 will debut at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 14.
The new Porsche will replace the Cadillac DPi-V.R. (pictured above) that the team has raced since 2019. There is excitement all around.
“I am excited to be part of this team and the Porsche 963 project,” Rockenfeller said in the team’s press release. “Starting our GTP season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the fourth round of the season is going to be a challenge. I am confident the JDC-Miller MotorSports team is on a very steep learning curve and will compete with the GTP teams very quickly. So very happy to see my name back on a Porsche.”
Rockenfeller has a very strong resume in motorsports. He won the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2010 with Action Express Racing. Later that same year, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall. He also has an additional class victory at Le Mans.
However, he has rarely focused on North America. His only full season in North American sports car racing was in the American Le Mans Series in 2006 in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. He has one victory in IMSA competition since reunification in 2014, that being at Sebring in 2017.
Rockenfeller is taking on his new GTP ride in addition to his role with the NASCAR/Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 effort at Le Mans. With the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship not going to Detroit this year, his IMSA schedule will not conflict with the Le Mans Test Day and the two schedules should mesh just fine.
“I am really happy to be a part of JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 LMDh project,” van der Helm said. “To me, it does not really matter that we start a bit later in the season. I think we as a team can maximize every opportunity we will get. Going to the Laguna race with a brand new car will be tough, but I have no doubt that we will be competitive as a team. I look forward to the challenge and opportunity!”
Van der Helm is only 19 and still relatively new to sports car racing. He has only three career IMSA starts. Two were earlier this year at Daytona and Sebring in the LMP3 class with JDC-Miller MotorSports with a best result of third at Sebring. The other was in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he drove an ORECA 07-Gibson for Algarve Pro Racing and finished ninth in the LMP2 class.
Van der Helm will split his time between IMSA and the European Le Mans Series. Last weekend, van der Helm made his ELMS season debut in the LMP2 class there for Panis Racing, where he finished second in class. There are no schedule conflicts between the two series.
The Minnesota-based team was the first team to sign on to field a customer Porsche 963 last year. However, production delays meant that the team just received their new LMDh chassis last week at Porsche’s base in Weissach, Germany along with JOTA Sport (racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship as Hertz Team JOTA). Hertz Team JOTA will debut their Porsche 963 in Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
While Rockenfeller and van der Helm will compete in all the remaining GTP events in 2023, there are still two Michelin Endurance Cup events on the schedule (Watkins Glen and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta) that will require a third driver. That third driver has not been announced as of yet, but will be in the near future.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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