It was not the biggest surprise in motorsport this week, but Porsche has finally confirmed that André Lotterer will race as one of its LMP1 works drivers in 2017, alongside Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy. Weissach has stopped short of putting the new kids/three Le Mans champions in a car on their own: instead, Neel Jani will race with Lotterer/Tandy, while Bamber joins Bernhard/Hartley for the season.
Romain Dumas returns to GTs with new colleagues
The news was announced at the 2016 Night of Champions, along with some other surprising appointments. Romain Dumas returns to the works GT roster, but his next race seat was not announced this evening. Instead Porsche announced two new GT pilots for next year: Dirk Werner and Laurens Vanthoor. Werner is a name most Porsche fans will know, as he raced 911s for a fair while (2004-2009) before heading off to race with BMW in North America. As well as being the 2006 Carrera Cup Deutschland champion, Werner is a two-time Grand AM GT champ and also claimed the Porsche Cup in 2009.
Vanthoor is a proper GT legend. Still only 25 years old, he’s already won the Macau Grand Prix, won the FIA GT championship and won the 24 Hours of both Spa and the Nürburgring. Two weeks ago he won the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (albeit in somewhat controversial circumstances) and he has also won the 12 Hours of Sepang and the 24 Hours of Dubai. When you think that newly-promoted Sven Müller is just one year younger than Vanthoor, it makes you wonder what Müller’s been up to. Then you remember that he’s just won Carrera Cup Deutschland and Supercup titles in the same year, so there’s every reason to look forward to seeing what Müller can do in the new RSR.
Robert Renauer wins 2016 Porsche Cup
The main award at the annual Porsche motorsport prizegiving is always the Porsche Cup, given to that year’s most successful Porsche privateer. The 2016 Porsche Cup winner is Robert Renauer from Germany, who scored an impressive 7,355 points this year driving Porsches in ADAC GT Masters, European Le Mans and the 24-Hour International Endurance series. Wolfgang Porsche presented Renauer with his prize: a 911 Carrera worth €120k. Runners-up Christian Ried and Spain’s Daniel Diaz Varela win €30k and €25k respectively.
Porsche 911 RSRs chase FIA GT and IMSA titles
Porsche has committed to a two-car assault on the first FIA GT manufacturers’ title, but so far has named only three drivers for the two GTE-Pro RSRs: Michael Christensen, Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz. Two of this trio will spend some additional time in America, Lietz and Fred Mako teaming up with the IMSA pairings of Pilet/Werner and Estre/Vanthoor for longer events such as Daytona and Sebring.
The full list of factory drivers is below and seems a good combination of youth and experience. Hats off to the team chiefs for some interesting choices: here’s to a great year ahead.
LMP1 – 919 Hybrid #1
Neel Jani (32) Switzerland
André Lotterer (35) Germany
Nick Tandy (32) Great Britain
LMP1 – 919 Hybrid #2
Earl Bamber (26) New Zealand
Timo Bernhard (35) Germany
Brendon Hartley (27) New Zealand
GT Works Drivers
Jörg Bergmeister (40) Germany
Michael Christensen (26) Denmark
Romain Dumas (38) France
Kévin Estre (28) France
Wolf Henzler (41) Germany
Richard Lietz (33) Austria
Frédéric Makowiecki (36) France
Sven Müller (24) Germany
Patrick Pilet (35) France
Patrick Long (35) USA
Laurens Vanthoor (25) Belgium
Dirk Werner (35) Germany
Matteo Cairoli (20) Italy
Mathieu Jaminet (22) France
Matt Campbell (21) Australia
Dennis Olsen (20) Norway
Thomas Preining (18) Austria
Photo Credit: Brittany Tandy @brittanymx