Saturday 3 December 2016

Porsche reshuffles driver line-ups for 2017

Porsche announced its 2017 driver line-ups for the 2017 World Endurance Championship and the IMSA Weatertech Sportscar Series tonight at the "Porsche night of champions" in Weissach, Germany. 

© Porsche

The celebrations for the German manufacturer started yesterday when Porsches winners of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship have been celebrated at the 2016 FIA prize giving ceremony in Vienna. For the second year in a row Porsche is World Champion of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Following the triumph of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley, and Timo Bernhard last year, this year’s crown went to the crew of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.

LMP1 defending champions

Porsche returns to the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship as defending champions, and will be out on the hunt for a third consecutive crown. Both Porsche 919 Hybrids will race again with the starting numbers 1 and 2. The driver line-ups of both cars will see some major changes next year. After Mark Webbers retirement and the departure of Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb from the LMP1 driving squad, three newcomers will join the crew. 

Returnees to the LMP1 program are New Zealander Earl Bamber and Britain Nick Tandy. Both have already gained a lot of experience in the 919 Hybrid LMP1, winning the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Nico Hülkenberg. The third new name in Porsches driver line-up is André Lotterer. The  35 year old German, three time Le Mans winner and 2012 WEC champion, makes the move from Audi to Porsche.  Lotterer and Tandy will join Neel Jani in the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The #2 car will have two "Kiwi's" at the wheel next season with Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, who will be joined by German Timo Bernhard. 

Next year's 919 represents another step in its technological evolution, featuring a completely new colour design, an optimised aerokit, and the complete overhaul of almost all components. The  car will be officially unveiled on 23 March at the WEC prologue, which is held for the first time in Monza, Italy.


2017 will also see the return of a Porsche factory effort in the GTE Pro class in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The return of Porsche in the GTE class with the whole new 911 RSR will see the German manufacturer on the hunt for the GT world championship titles for best driver(s) and manufacturer.  Confirmed drivers for the World Endurance Championship so far are Michael Christensen, Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz. At least one more driver has to be confirmed and 2 more for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

© Porsche
With Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy moving up to LMP1, new drivers have also been signed on to race in GTE. German Dirk Werner returns to Porsche after several years as BMW works driver. Another driver coming over from Audi is the highly talented GT ace Laurens Vanthoor. The 25 year old Belgian already has an impressive resume in GT racing, clinching the 2013 FIA GT title and victories in long distance racing at the 24 hours of Spa, Nürburgring and Dubai. Sven Müller will also be promoted to Porsche works driver after winning the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. 

Porsche will also take on the competition with 2 factory cars in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship. As in the FIA WEC, 2 brand new 911 RSR's will be on the grid of the North American championship. Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner will drive the 911 car where as Laurens Vanthoor will join Frenchman Kevin Estre in the #912. Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz will join in for the long distance races. 

Kristof Vermeulen.