Event Story Lines.
Night of Announcements. Porsche Motorsport Revels and Reveals at Gala.
Porsche used its annual Night of Champions gala in Stuttgart, Germany on Saturday, December 9 to celebrate its 2017 successes and announce its 2018 programs. Following its announced withdrawal from LMP1 prototype racing beginning next season, the German marque revealed its ambitious and increased GT plans for the 2018 season, most of which center on the iconic 911. The North American market remains critical to Porsche Motorsport and, therefore, the Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser-led arm of Porsche AG has continued its strong commitment to GT racing in IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. The following storylines and plans were revealed at and/or in conjunction with the Night of Champions.
IMSA GT Focus. Porsche Makes Strong Commitment in North America.
One of the most successful driver pairings in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will join forces again in 2018. Like in their 2015 GT Le Mans (GTLM) class championship-winning year, Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France) share the cockpit of the 911 RSR with the starting number 911. In the No. 912 sister car, the two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans overall winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and the Intercontinental GT Challenge and Blancpain Series champion, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), form a world-class driver duo for the full 11-race GTLM season.
Both Pilet, in the No. 911, and Vanthoor, driving the No. 912, had success in 2017 with the then-new 911 RSR. Pilet, co-driving at the time with Dirk Werner (Germany) won the car’s first race at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Werner teamed with Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) in the No. 912 when the car took the pole position and a podium-finish in the IMSA GTLM class at Lime Rock. The No. 911 Porsche GT Team earned the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in the class with Pilet and Werner sharing the Drivers’ title in the championship within a championship.
For the 2018 endurance races at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Six Hours of Watkins Glen and the Petit Le Mans (10-hours), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) will be the third in the No. 911. Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) will return to the No. 912 for those same races.
2018 will mark the full-season return to North American competition for Bamber and Tandy. The two veterans of the Porsche driver development pyramid spent last season racing the Porsche 919 Hybrid – Bamber winning Le Mans and the LMP1 championship. Each driver foreshadowed his 2018 campaign plans by racing at the IMSA season-closing Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Bamber finished in fifth-place with co-drivers Bruni and Vanthoor in the No. 912 while Tandy’s driving partners of Pilet and Werner were sixth in the GTLM class.
Wright Back to the Beginning. Long-Nielsen to Team with Wright in IMSA GTD.
Wright Motorsports will be returning to endurance competition in 2018 with a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entry. Sharing the seat of a GT Daytona (GTD) class Porsche 911 GT3 R will be reigning two-time GTD champion, Christina Nielsen (Aarhus, Denmark) and Porsche factory ace, Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, CA). Nielsen was announced as a Porsche Selected Driver at the July 9 Porsche Night of Champions.
Entering her fourth full season in the WeatherTech Championship, Nielsen will join the Batavia, Ohio-based team as the back-to-back GTD class champion (2016 and 2017) and runner-up for the title in 2015. At just 25 years old, the highly-accomplished Dane holds the title as the first woman to win a major sports car championship in the United States.
While she has seen success racing with a variety of manufacturers, 2018 will mark a return home for Nielsen, who carries a deep bench of Porsche experience. From the start of her sports car racing career, Nielsen has driven under the Porsche marque in competition across the globe. Her resume includes stops in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, the ADAC GT Masters, the GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA, and select IMSA WeatherTech Championship races in 2014.
No stranger to Wright Motorsports, Long will be entering his third consecutive season with the group. Still fresh off of his 2017 Pirelli World Challenge championships with the John Wright-led team, the Californian has proven to be tremendously competitive in the Porsche 911 GT3 R. The 2018 season however, is where his endurance experience will shine.
In his fifteen years as America’s only Porsche factory driver, Long has seen victories at some the world’s most prestigious endurance events including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Bathurst 12 Hour, the Twelve Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans.
Wright Motorsports will begin the 2018 season in January with their focus on another strong showing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. With this highly-accomplished driver lineup paired with the team’s endurance racing and Porsche experience, the program is up to the task.
John Wright, Team Principal, Wright Motorsports.
“I am very pleased to have this great opportunity come together in such a short time. It is a tremendous opportunity to be heading back into the endurance racing arena with such a strong program. In my experience, I haven’t seen too many driver combinations better to compete for a championship then what I think we will see in Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen.
“I’m also very happy to have Patrick back for the 2018 season. Coming off this year’s championships, our momentum could not be stronger than it is now. I am looking forward to working with Christina and seeing her back behind the wheel of a Porsche. We have tried to make something happen in the past, but due to different circumstances we were never able to pull anything together. The stars have aligned to make it possible for this year and hopefully years to come.”
Patrick Long, Driver, Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I am thrilled to continue my journey with Wright Motorsports for the 2018 season. We will have our work cut out for us starting the season with two of the biggest international endurance races in sports car racing, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, but I am confident in the group’s ability. Christina has been on an amazing run with her two titles over the last two years and I want to blend that momentum with our 2017 title and aim for victories right out of the box. I’m very excited to get things started at Daytona.”
Christina Nielsen, Driver, Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“I am really looking forward to being back in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve come up with such a strong combination with Wright Motorsports and Porsche. I’ve had a great run for the last three years, but it won’t be easy to do what I’ve already done. For me the biggest thing is to go into 2018 without relying on any previous results. We’ll start from scratch beginning with Daytona and go from there.
I’m also really looking forward to being back with Porsche. I’ve known John Wright since 2014 when I raced against him in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge. We’ve always tried to put something together, but there was never the right opportunity. Luckily an opportunity came up for 2018 and we were there to both grab it. I know I’ll be working with some very experienced and competent people who know what it takes and I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Customer Care. Porsche 911 GT3 R Highlighted by Upgrade Package.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R will start its third season of homologation as the GT3-spec car for both IMSA’s GT Daytona (GTD) Pro-Am class and the Pirelli World Challenge GT classes. The customer car receives an upgrade – not a fully new car – for the 2018 season. The parts kit, which can be used to update all 2016 and 2017 models, includes among other things, a new front lid/hood for the optimization of thermal management and side flicks on the front bumper to improve aerodynamic balance.
The 911 GT3 R debuted in 2016 in North America at the Rolex 24 At Daytona where it took a podium finish. In 2017, Alegra Motorsports earned the car its first IMSA endurance race victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Park Place Motorsports raced to a second season-win for the car with factory driver Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) and team principal Patrick Lindsey (Santa Barbara, California) at Lime Rock Park.
The car was even more successful in Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) where it earned the GT Overall and Sprint Championships for Drivers with factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), Team (Wright Motorsports) and Manufacturers. James Sofronas (Villa Park, California) was the top contender in the GT Amateur (GTA) class capturing the Sprint title for Drivers in the No. 14 GMG Porsche 911 GT3 R.
24 with 4. Porsche Aims to Contest Le Mans with Four Factory 911 RSRs.
Porsche plans to campaign four factory vehicles at the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17. The two Porsche GT Teams from the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will each field two of the 510 hp GT racers built in Weissach, Germany. The cockpit of the No. 91 car is to be shared by Gianmaria Bruni (Italy), Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France). The number 92 vehicle will be manned by Kévin Estre (France), Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium). Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) are expected to drive the number 93 car, while the No. 94 Porsche 911 RSR earmarked for Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Sven Müller (Germany). With Bamber, Bernhard, Dumas and Tandy, a total of four overall Le Mans winners will compete as part of the Porsche “works” squad.
World Contenders. Porsche Will Again Fight for GT World Championship in 2018.
In the 2018/2019 season, Porsche will again send its factory Porsche GT Team to contest the LMGTE-Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). In the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR, Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) and Richard Lietz (Austria) will fight for the world championship. Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) will man the No. 92 vehicle.
In the LMGTE-Am class, a number of customer teams have applied for a starting spot with the 2017-spec 911 RSR. This is the first opportunity for customer teams to purchase and compete with the new-for-2017 911 RSR. In total, Porsche has sold seven 911 RSR to customers for the WEC, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series. Thus far, no customer 911 RSRs are slated to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTLM class.
Top-Seller. Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Sets New Sales Record.
The newest Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car celebrated its inaugural season in 2017 and by spring of 2018 will have set a new record for the sale of the one-make series car. Beginning in 2018, this generation of the 911 GT3 Cup car will be fielded in the majority of Porsche’s 21 one-make cup series around the world. With the increased demand, a total of 339 units of the 485 hp machine will roll off the assembly line at Porsche’s main production facility in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Never before have so many racing vehicles of one type been manufactured for one season. Hence, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup remains the world’s top selling racecar.
In an unprecedented move, the North American market – specifically the Platinum classes of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama – saw the debut of the newest racecar based on the Porsche 911 GT3 road car. The 2017 car, which features many safety, maintenance and performance enhancements over previous generations, also raced in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the Carrera Cup Germany during the 2017 season. All previous generations had seen a year of competition in those two series before coming to North America with IMSA.
In North America, those first-year cars went to good use. Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner Jake Eidson (Littleton, Colorado) earned the 2017 GT3 Cup Challenge USA Platinum title with the 2017 car. Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate Scott Hargrove (Canada) secured the title with his Platinum level 911 for the Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama.
Intercontinental Commitment. Porsche Resolute in Worldwide GT3 Sport.
At each round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC), Porsche will lend its support to at least one local team in their 911 GT3 R pro-class campaign. In 2017, multiple Pirelli World Challenge teams entered their Porsche 911 GT3 Rs for the eight-hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS) including PWC GT championship-winning Wright Motorsports, GMG, Calvert Dynamics and Black Swan Racing. Porsche factory drivers entered included two-time PWC Champion Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), Jörg Bergmeister (Germany), Romain Dumas (France), Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Sven Müller (Germany).
For 2018, the works driver trio of Dirk Werner (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) will contest all IGTC races and fight for the Drivers’ Championship. Porsche will contend for the Manufacturers’ title.
The 2018 IGTC season will again close at MRLS, October 28. While the three works drivers are known, additional Porsche entries are anticipated from the PWC paddock.
In the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, the three factory drivers also share the cockpit of a Porsche 911 GT3 R. Manthey Racing will field this car at all races. In many other international and national GT series such as the European Le Mans Series, the Pirelli World Challenge, the Japanese Super GT series, the IMSA WeatherTech Championship (GTD class) and the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship, Porsche supports customer teams with engineers and drivers. Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) heads those support efforts for the United States and Canada.
Youth Development. Porsche Further Expands its Youth Development Program.
A total of four top young pilots will compete around the world as Porsche Young Professionals in 2018. After their successes in Porsche’s one-make cup series, Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Matt Campbell (Australia) have taken the next career step. Matteo Cairoli (Italy) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) also gave convincing performances in their first season as Porsche Young Professionals in GT racing and will continue to receive support in 2018.
Porsche Selected Drivers will supplement the proven support effort for the first time in the coming year. Porsche also provides these pilots with training, which includes fitness tests. Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class Champion Christina Nielsen (Denmark) is the first driver to be chosen to the ranks as a Porsche Selected Driver.
The winner of the German E-Kart Championship (DEKM), held for the first time in 2018, can also benefit from a number of training programs with Porsche. This evolution of the Porsche driver development pyramid adds a building block level to the program. Porsche Motorsport will partner with the innovative and particularly cost-effective DEKM starting with the series’ first race in 2018. The karts, capable of reaching 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), will be fielded centrally to ensure a level playing field and to prevent runaway costs.
Timo’s Team. World Champion Timo Bernhard to Contest ADAC GT Masters.
The reigning FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) LMP1 World Champion and multi-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard (Germany) will make his GT racing comeback in 2018. Joining forces with fellow Porsche factory driver Kévin Estre (France), Bernhard will contest the ADAC GT Masters with his own Team 75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Nürburgring Niun. Nine Porsche 911 GT3 R To Tackle Nürburgring 24.
Nine Porsche 911 GT3 R are expected to line up at the Nürburgring to contest the ADAC 24-hour race. Customer teams in the Pro class will field five of the international GT3-spec cars with four more in the amateur division of the famous German enduro.
Manthey Racing will campaign two of the rear-engine racers piloted by factory drivers. Sharing driving duties in the No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R will be Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Kévin Estre (France) and Patrick Pilet (France). Scheduled to take the green flag in the No. 912 car will be Romain Dumas (France), Richard Lietz (Austria), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain). A total of 13 Porsche works drivers and four Young Professionals will tackle the Eifel marathon on May 12-13, 2018.
Future Formula. Porsche Formula E Machine Starts to Take Conceptual Form.
The Porsche LMP Team will spend 2018 concentrating on its new mission: its successful entry into Formula E. That challenge will begin in the all-electric formula car series’ sixth season toward the end of 2019. Until then, the team will design, develop and test a complete powertrain for the open-wheel, single-seater. The first steps were already taken in 2017, with the concrete implementation of the concept taking place in 2018. The first test drives with the finished Porsche Formula E racecar are scheduled for early 2019.
Farewell Tour 2018. Porsche 919 Hybrid To Say Worldwide Goodbye.
With the shuttering of the active Porsche 919 Hybrid race program at the conclusion of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, one might have assumed the end of the car and its activities. However, while much of the three-time World Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning team are focused on the 2019 Formula E car, the work for one of the world’s most technically advanced racecars, and its technicians, is not over yet. An international tour for the prototype will see the pioneering car lap the globe making stops to celebrate not only its substantial success but also the technology and people that made it possible.
Outside the events of the WEC and thus outside the regulations of usable energy amounts, the innovative racecar will be campaigned at many individual events throughout the year. A precise program will be announced early in 2018. At the end of year, the era of the 900 hp hybrid prototype will come to a close. The 919 will then make its last trip, this one to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, to take its place beside other motorsport luminaries such as the Porsche 917, 936, 956, 962 and RS Spyder prototypes as well as countless 911-based race winners. Cars, like the 919 Hybrid, that set the standard for motorsport success since the founding of Porsche.
Porsche Cup. Ried Earns Award as Most Successful Porsche Privateer of 2017.
One of the most anticipated events of the annual Porsche Night of Champions is the awarding of the prestigious Porsche Cup. The trophy presented to the world’s most successful private Porsche driver of 2017 went to Christian Ried (Germany) on Saturday, December 9. Ried, who raced in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) LMGTE-Am class in the Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR, was awarded the coveted trophy by Dr Wolfgang Porsche, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG.
Based on an idea of Ferry Porsche, the Porsche Cup has been awarded since 1970 to the non-factory driver who has piloted a Porsche most successfully over the course of a race season. The award recognizes drivers from around the globe in various race series. Drivers may compete, and score points in, multiple, recognized race series.
The first recipient was Gijs van Lennep in 1970. The legendary Bob Wollek (France) earned the Cup a record six-times. The famous Frenchman took home the honor every year from 1976 - 1978 and again each season from 1981 - 1983.
In addition to the trophy itself, Ried takes home a Porsche road car valued at over $140, 000 (120,000 Euro). Thanks to his successes in the FIA WEC and the European Le Mans Series, he earned 8,700 points over the course of the season at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR. Second-place went to last year’s Porsche Cup recipient Robert Renauer (Germany). Renauer earned prize money totaling $35,000 (30,000 Euros) as runner-up in 2017. For third-place, Switzerland’s Daniel Allemann wins $30,000 (25,000 Euro).
North America has been the home of six Porsche Cup winners over the years.
• 1994 – Price Cobb – Kelly-Moss Road & Race • 1999 – Cort Wagner – Alex Job Racing • 2000 – Mike Fitzgerald – G & W Motorsports • 2002 – Kevin Buckler – The Racers Group (TRG) • 2007 – Johannes van Overbeek – Flying Lizard Motorsports • 2015 – Ryan Dalziel – EFFORT Racing
Four Porsche Cup winners would go on to earn Porsche factory driver status. Marc Lieb (2003 winner), Wolf Henzler (2006), Dirk Werner (2009) and Nick Tandy (2012).
More on the Porsche Cup can be found at:
Porsche Line-up. Factory and Supported Drivers for 2018.
Earl Bamber (27-years-old) New Zealand
Jörg Bergmeister (41) Germany
Timo Bernhard (36) Germany
Gianmaria Bruni (36) Italy
Michael Christensen (27) Denmark
Romain Dumas (39) France
Kévin Estre (29) France
Brendon Hartley (28) New Zealand
Neel Jani (34) Switzerland
Richard Lietz (33) Austria
Patrick Long (36) Manhattan Beach, California
André Lotterer (36) Germany
Frédéric Makowiecki (37) France
Sven Müller (25) Germany
Patrick Pilet (36) France
Nick Tandy (33) Great Britain
Laurens Vanthoor (26) Belgium
Dirk Werner (36) Germany
Matteo Cairoli (21) Italy
Matt Campbell (22) Australia
Mathieu Jaminet (23) France
Dennis Olsen (21) Norway
Julien Andlauer (18) France
Thomas Preining (19) Austria
Porsche Selected Driver 2018.
Christina Nielsen (25) Denmark
Where They Race. Driver Assignment Overview for 2018.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
911 RSR No. 911 Patrick Pilet (France)
Nick Tandy (Great Britain) Frédéric Makowiecki (France) – only North American Endurance Cup) 911 RSR No. 912 Earl Bamber (New Zealand)
Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) – only North American Endurance Cup
FIA World Endurance Championship.
911 RSR No. 91 Gianmaria Bruni (Italy)
Richard Lietz (Austria) 911 RSR No. 92 Michael Christensen (Denmark)
Kévin Estre (France)
24 Hours of Le Mans.
911 RSR No. 91 Gianmaria Bruni (Italy)
Richard Lietz (Austria) Frédéric Makowiecki (France) 911 RSR No. 92 Michael Christensen (Denmark)
Kévin Estre (France) Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) 911 RSR No. 93 Earl Bamber (New Zealand)
Patrick Pilet (France) Nick Tandy (Great Britain) 911 RSR No. 94 Timo Bernhard (Germany)
Romain Dumas (France) Sven Müller (Germany)
Intercontinental GT Challenge.
911 GT3 R No. 911 Romain Dumas (France)
Frédéric Makowiecki (France) Dirk Werner (Germany)
Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
911 GT3 R No. 911 Romain Dumas (France)
Frédéric Makowiecki (France) Dirk Werner (Germany)