Will Stevens, teammate of the António Félix da Costa and Yifei Ye in the #38 Hertz Team Jota Porsche 963, has been a sportscar driver at the highest level for over seven years. The 36-year-old British driver switched from single-seaters to prototypes and GT machinery in 2016 after a career which had seen him compete in a full season of Formula 1 for Manor Marussia.
Since 2016 Stevens has established himself as one of world’s fastest and most dependable sportscar racers, winning the LMGTE Am category at Le Mans in 2017 and the LMP2 class at the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans in the #38 Jota ORECA 07, alongside Félix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez.
After Frant-based Jota announced in 2022 that it would be running the new Porsche 963 LMDh as a customer entry in the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, Stevens joined the driver line-up alongside Felix Da Costa and 2021 Asian Le Mans Series champion Yifei Ye.
Hertz Team Jota raced its new Porsche 963 for the first time at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, less than a month before the car was due to join the grid for the start of the 100th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Given the huge experience of Jota in prototype competition, after having won the LMP2 class at Le Mans for the first time in 2014 and going on to stand on the class podium at the French endurance classic a further nine times, including two wins, nobody is in any doubt that the team will be battling at the front in the senior class.
“We’re much better prepared now than we were at Spa,” said Will Stevens. “We completed a two-day test between there (Spa) and Le Mans and we know the package much better than we did before.
“For sure we’re in a better window than where we were but we’re still learning in every session so we know we’ve got the package to compete.”
Will Stevens is quick to acknowledge Jota’s history as one of the world’s greatest prototype race squads of the past two decades.
“As a team, we know how to win this race and we know what we need to do,” he continues. “We just need to concentrate on doing what we normally do. At the end of the day, the car is new but it’s still a racecar and we just need to go about executing our plan for the race. It’s the same as always; if you stay out of trouble with no penalties and keep everything under control, you’re going to be there or thereabouts at the end.”
Did the recent Balance of Performance adjustments for the Hypercar class raise any concerns? For Will Stevens, the adjustments do nothing to deflect the team from its mission to get the best from the new Porsche 963.
“No, the Championship decides what best (for fair competition) and we’re all for it,” said Will Stevens. “We’re concentrating on ourselves. We’re not in a position where we’re worrying about anything or anyone else. We just need to perform the best we can and get the most from the package. We truly believe that if we do that, we’ll be there or there abouts.”
The first practice session for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway at 1400 on Wednesday on June 7.