Sunday 10 December 2017

FIA WEC: Four Porsche 911 RSR at Le Mans in 2018 and a 919 Hybrid farewell tour

Yesterday evening, Porsche paid tribute to the worldwide achievements of teams and drivers during the 2017 season at its annual “Night of Champions” in Weissach. The huge expansion of Porsche's worldwide GT programme was announced yesterday, including a 4 car assault on the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours. 

© Porsche

Porsche plans its largest ever GT factory mission at the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with 4 works cars to be entered in the GTE Pro class. Both Porsche GT teams form the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA Weathertech Championship will field two 911 RSR's each.    

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The #91 car will be driven by Gianmaria Bruni (returning to the FIA WEC and Le Mans after leaving Ferrari at the end of 2016), Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki. The #92 will be manned by Kévin Estre, Michael Chistensen and Laurens Vanthoor. In the #93 it's Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber behind the wheel, while the #94 will be in the hands of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Sven Müller. 

Porsche remains in the FIA WEC with 2 factory cars in the GTE-Pro class, driven by Gianmaria Bruno and Richard Lietz in the #91 and Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre in the #92. In the IMSA championship Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet will drive the #911 while Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor are behind the wheel of the #912 Porsche 911 RSR.

The German manufacturer also announced an impressive program in GT3 for 2018 with a Manthey run factory effort in the Blancpain GT Series & International GT Challenge, Timo Bernhard with his team in the ADAC GT Masters and no less than nine Porsches at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with  an all star line-up in the Manthey factory cars.  

Preparations for Formula E

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There's no sign of Neel Jani and André Lotterer in Porsche's driving rosters for 2018 so far.  Both drivers are active in the Formula E championship: Jani with Dragon Racing, Lotterer with Techeetah. Lotterer is also believed to chase after a drive at Le Mans in 2018, linked to Rebellion if they might step up to LMP1 again.  

Porsche's LMP1 team is already working on their transition for Formula E in which they will enter in 2019.  Until then, the team will design, develop and test a complete powertrain. The first steps were already taken in 2017, with the concrete implementation of the concept taking place next year. The first test drives with the finished Formula E race car from Porsche are scheduled for early 2019. 

Farewell tour for the 919 Hybrid

Despite leaving the FIA WEC at the end of last season, the 919 Hybrid will still make a few outings on track in 2018. Porsche is planning a farewell tour for the three-time Le Mans winning prototype. Outside the events of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and thus outside the regulations of usable energy amounts, the 919 Hybrid will be campaigned at many individual events throughout the year. A precise programme will be announced early in 2018. At the end of 2018, the era of the ca. 900 hp hybrid prototype will come to a close. The 919 will then make its last trip to the Porsche Museum.

Christian Ried most succesful private driver of 2017

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This year’s winner of the Porsche Cup, the trophy for the world’s most successful private Porsche driver, went to Christian Ried (38). The racing driver/owner of the Dempsey Proton Racing squad was awarded the coveted trophy by Dr Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG. Thanks to his successes in the FIA WEC and the European Le Mans Series, Ried earned 8,700 points over the past season at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR.

Kristof Vermeulen