• Porsche in Fuji. World Champion Porsche Travels to Japan with WEC Lead. • Canadian Champ. Late Pass Rewards De Angelis With Final Win of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Season. • Al Holbert Remembered. Anniversary of Passing of Porsche Legend. • Electric Support. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Adds Test Drivers to Program.
Porsche in Fuji. World Champion Porsche Travels to Japan with WEC Lead.
Porsche heads into round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Fuji in Japan as the leader of all LMGTE-Pro classifications. After claiming a one-two finish at the season-opening race at the Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain, the factory team is aiming to again finish on the podium with the two Porsche 911 RSR race cars. In the LMGTE-Am category for Pro-Am style efforts, the customer programs Team Project 1, Gulf Racing and Dempsey Proton Racing will field a total of five Porsche 911 RSRs. Unlike the Porsche GT Team’s new for 2019/2020 Porsche 911 RSR, the customer programs race last year’s spec car per the WEC regulations.
The 2.84-mile (4.563-kilometer) Fuji Raceway presents engineers and drivers with special challenges. The racetrack, which opened in 1965, features a combination of many tight turns and a start-finish straight of nearly one-mile in length. Finding a suitable setup requires a compromise between high velocity straight-line speed and a high downforce in the tight corners. The races are contested at the foot of the famous Mount Fuji and, as a result of them being scheduled during the Japanese typhoon season, events often plagued by changeable weather conditions. In 2013, the race had to be red-flagged after 16 laps due to torrential rain. Reigning world drivers’ champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) celebrated a decisive victory at Fuji with their Porsche 911 RSR on the way to winning the title in the 2018/2019 “Super Season”.
Silverstone winners Richard Lietz (Austria) and Gianmaria Bruni (Italy) are set to tackle the second round of the young season in the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR. The second ca. 515 hp vehicle (No. 92) is shared by the champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark). After the one-two result at the season-opening round with the two new Porsche 911 RSR, the drivers currently rank first and second in the world championship standings. Porsche travels to Japan as the leader of the manufacturer’s classification.
The number 56 Porsche 911 RSR, in last year’s spec, is fielded by the customer Team Project 1 and is shared by Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy), the reigning LMGTE-Am champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Egidio Perfetti (Norway) as well as David Heinemeier Hansson (Denmark). Sharing driving duties in the No. 57 sister car is Ben Keating (Tomball, Texas), Felipe Fraga (Brazil) and the former Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen from the Netherlands.
The all-British driver line-up of Ben Barker, Andrew Watson and Michael Wainwright will helm the No. 86 racer run by Gulf Racing. In the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Dempsey-Proton Racing, the Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia) joins forces with team owner Christian Ried (Germany) and the Italian Riccardo Pera. The driver crew in the No. 88 sister car will be announced at a later date. With five vehicles on the grid, Porsche is represented by the largest contingent in the fiercely contested GTE-Am class.
The new Porsche 911 RSR (2019 model year) contests its maiden season in the FIA WEC. The vehicle, which produces around 515 hp depending on the air restrictor, is based on the high-performance 911 GT3 RS road-going sports car. Compared to its extremely successful predecessor model, the car for the LMGTE-Pro class of the FIA WEC received improvements to areas such as drivability, efficiency, ergonomics and serviceability. About 95 percent of the car is new. The 911 RSR is powered by a 4.2-litre, six-cylinder boxer engine.
The six-hour FIA WEC race at Fuji gets underway on Sunday, October 6 at 11am local time. North American viewers can follow the race starting at 10:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 5.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Motorsport.
“After the incredible success at Silverstone the mood in the team and in the development department at Weissach is at an all-time high. We’re leading all categories after the first race. This not only makes us confident for the tasks ahead but also gives us a bit of a breather to better acquaint ourselves with the new Porsche 911 RSR. There’s still a lot of potential in the vehicle. That’s what we want to demonstrate at Fuji.”
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“We mustn’t allow the one-two success of Silverstone to distract us from investing more effort into optimizing the setup of the new Porsche 911 RSR. I’m sure that our experienced team and the drivers will manage to make more progress. At Fuji, we are keen to perform better, particularly in qualifying, and to achieve a good starting position for the six-hour race.”
Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC.
“The great success at Silverstone was thanks to our drivers’ impeccable efforts, a very good strategy and the flawless job from the entire team of mechanics and engineers. Nonetheless, we didn’t have the fastest car in the field. Now we want to keep working on the setup and make further progress. No matter what weather is thrown at us in Japan, we’ll use every minute of track time to gain as much information as we can and then use this to improve the car.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The new season began perfectly with the one-two success. We can’t do better than this in Japan. Despite our Silverstone victory, we have some work ahead of us. We need to use the Fuji event to further improve the drivability of our new Porsche 911 RSR. We still have room for improvement, especially in the car’s balance. If we manage to take these steps during qualifying in Japan, then we can hope for another top result in the competitive GTE-Pro class.”
Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I really enjoy Japan because of the mentality of the people there. And the Fuji racetrack is also fascinating. Unfortunately the autumn weather is often not so great for motor racing. I hope it stays dry this year. We’d like stable conditions at the second race outing of the new Porsche 911 RSR so that we can gain as many insights as possible. In the world championship, we want to consolidate our position.”
Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“I always feel inspired by the Japanese fans. They’re incredibly enthusiastic, and they treat the teams and drivers with immense respect. This is simply incredible. We travelling there as last year’s winners, so we have great memories of Fuji. In Japan we’ll be back to the standard WEC race format of six hours. I’m sure that we’ll encounter some tough competition.”
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“The major success at the first round in Great Britain was great, but it is no guarantee of further victories. We have to keep working hard and make the most of our opportunities. We expect the tasks in Fuji will be very different to what we faced recently at Silverstone. The racetrack has a very special character and the weather can quickly turn everything upside down. What happens in the race is unpredictable. But one thing is certain: once again, the fans will make the Fuji race a real spectacle.”
Matteo Cairoli, Driver, No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR.
“Our main goal at Fuji has to be to do several things a lot better than at the Silverstone season-opener. We weren’t sorted there, and we also had bad luck in the safety car phases. I’m positive that as a team we’re able to learn very quickly and immediately implement those findings. Project 1 won the Fuji race last year with the Porsche 911 RSR. That’s a good omen for the upcoming race.”
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche 911 RSR.
“Our pace was good at the opening round of the season at Silverstone, but it didn’t translate into a good result. We aim to change this at Fuji and again finish on the podium. We were well prepared there in 2018. The racetrack is one of my favorites on the FIA WEC calendar. The long straight leads onto a partly very narrow passage, but it always flows nicely. That’s what I love.”
Canadian Champ. Late Pass Rewards De Angelis With Final Win of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Season.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect season at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant for Roman De Angelis. With a late race pass for the win, the young Canadian put a punctuation mark on the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, a series in which he captured his first Platinum class championship the day before. With one championship under his belt, he is now positioned to earn titles in both the one-make series of his native country and in the USA series, which will close with two races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on October 10 and 12. The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series exclusively use Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars putting a premium on driver talent over machine.
In the final race of the Canadian season, De Angelis started in second-place on the grid in his No. 79 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car next to Parker Thompson on the pole position. Thompson, in the No. 3 SCB Racing Porsche, led for nearly the entire 45-minute contest ahead of a captivating battle amongst the top-five competitors who all ran within one second of each other. Thompson succumbed to De Angelis with three minutes remaining. It was De Angelis’ 11th first-place trophy this year out of 12 races.
This is De Angelis’ second GT3 Cup Challenge Canada championship in three years with Mark Motors Racing. The Porsche Young Driver Academy graduate won the Gold Class championship in 2017. He credited the team following the race and especially teammate Marco Cirone, who captured a sixth GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Platinum Masters championship of his own on Saturday as well.
Thompson held on for a second-place finish in Sunday’s race, which coupled with a fourth-place showing on Saturday, elevated him to second behind De Angelis in the 2019 championship standings as well.
Completing his rookie season in GT3 Cup Challenge Canada was Sam Fellows, driver of the No. 35 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche. Fellows – son of legendary sports car driver Ron Fellows – secured the Gold Class championship after racing six events this year.
Fans can re-watch several of the 2019 races on the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Facebook page and keep up with news over the offseason on IMSA.com and on social media using the hashtag #GT3Canada.
The series will make its return in 2020 at the annual Victoria Day SpeedFest at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on May 15-17.
Roman De Angelis, Driver, No. 79 Mark Motors Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“The last three seasons with Mark Motors have been phenomenal. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of them. It’s a family rather than a team. I look forward to racing every weekend with them. [It was] a perfect season not only for myself, but the team with Marco [Cirone] winning the Platinum Masters championship. I can’t thank Marco enough for all of the advice the past three years and before that. So, a perfect year and I couldn’t ask for a better team to be around me.”
Al Holbert Remembered. Anniversary of Passing of Porsche Legend.
September 30 marks the 31st Anniversary of the untimely passing of Porsche racing legend Al Holbert. Holbert, the first Director of Motorsports for Porsche Cars North America – today’s equivalent position of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) president and CEO – was killed in a private aircraft accident in 1988 near the Columbus, Ohio airport. Holbert was 41.
One of IMSA’s greatest drivers, the Pennsylvania-native and son of a Porsche racer (Bob Holbert), Al Holbert scored 63 race wins and 27 pole positions in North America’s premier sports car race series between 1974 and 1987. In addition to the victories in Holbert Racing Porsche race cars – particularly well remembered is the iconic blue, white and gold No. 14 Löwenbräu Porsche 962 – the Lehigh University graduate scored three 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victories with Porsche prototypes in 1983 (Porsche 956), 1986 and 1987 (Porsche 962 C). He earned two 24 Hours of Daytona (1986, 1987) and 12 Hours of Sebring (1976 and 1981) wins during his career. At the conclusion of the GTP era, Holbert was tied for most wins in a single season, nine, achieved in 1985.
Holbert was instrumental in the creation of the Porsche 962, returning the German marque to North American prototype racing in 1984. When Porsche stopped the production of that chassis, Holbert Racing continued to build new and updated variants of the car for IMSA racing. Following his assignment to head all Porsche racing endeavors in the United States and Canada under the Porsche Cars North America banner, the 1984 Indianapolis 500 fourth-place finisher launched the Porsche Indy car program in 1987. The team, with driver Teo Fabi, would score its lone victory in the CART championship at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1989.
Electric Support. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Adds Test Drivers to Program.
The TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team welcomes two newcomers, Simona De Silvestro (Switzerland) and Thomas Preining (Austria) to support its maiden season of competition in the electric-powered open wheel race series. De Silvestro and Preining will play the vital role as test and development drivers for the German marque’s factory program debut in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship season. They are involved in simulator work in Weissach, Germany and will be on-site at select Formula E races. The two drivers will also be available to the team for in-season testing.
De Silvestro is no stranger to the Formula E Championship. The 31-year-old Swiss driver already has experience in the world’s first fully-electric street racing series. She drove in the final two races of the Formula E inaugural season in 2014/15 before being signed as a regular driver by Andretti Autosport for the North American 2015 and 2016 NTT IndyCar Series season. Last season, 2018/19, she supported the Venturi Formula E Team as a test driver.
Even as a youngster, De Silvestro was passionate about motor racing. Since then, she has passed through many different professional motorsport formulas having started her career in karting. She moved to America at the age of 18. De Silvestro finished in fourth-place in Formula BMW USA in 2006.
She then raced in the Atlantic Championship and IndyCar Series. In 2010, she was named Rookie of the Year at the Indianapolis 500. In 2013, she finished in second-place to earn a spot on the podium in the Houston IndyCar race. She then had a brief foray into Formula 1 as an affiliated driver with the Sauber F1 Team in 2014. She has spent the last three years competing in the Australian Supercars Championship. De Silvestro is the first female Porsche works driver.
Thomas Preining has been a permanent fixture in the Porsche squad since 2017. However, in joining the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, the 21-year-old Porsche Young Professional is entering new territory, having previously driven in various GT classes.
Despite still being at the start of his career, Preining can look back on numerous successes. After starting out in karting, he raced in the ADAC Formula 4 Championship, before switching to the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland as a Porsche Junior in 2017. The Austrian caught the attention of the motorsport community in the same year, finishing second in the rookie standings. The youngster then thrived during the 2018 season, winning ten races on his way to the title. Preining impressed in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup where he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship and, together with champion Michael Ammermüller, secured the Team title for Lechner Racing. In 2019, now a Porsche Young Professional, Preining is driving for the Porsche customer team Gulf Racing in the FIA WEC (LMGTE-AM class) and also competes in the ADAC GT Masters with Herbert Motorsport. He and his teammates finished in fourth-place in the 6 Hours of Fuji, the 1000 Miles of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport and Group Motorsport Volkswagen AG.
“In Simona and Thomas, we have acquired two proven talents for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Simona comes with a wealth of experience gained in various different race series and is also a familiar face in Formula E. We are looking forward to working with her and welcome her to the Porsche family. Thomas has been with us since 2017, during which time he has demonstrated his talent in GT racing on numerous occasions. With the Formula E program, we are giving Simona and Thomas the opportunity to develop as drivers and to make a positive contribution to the Porsche Formula E project.”
Carlo Wiggers, Director Team Management & Business Relations Porsche Motorsport.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of two outstanding racing drivers for the Porsche Formula E program, in Simona and Thomas. As well as their sporting attributes, they are also both very well suited to our team. Simona and Thomas are excellent team players, who are very keen to help move the team forward. That is one of the keys to success in Formula E. Their experience and tireless dedication, both on and off the track, complete their profiles. With these two additional drivers, our overall package is really taking shape. This gives us confidence for our first season in Formula E.”
Simona De Silvestro, Porsche Works Driver, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
“It is a great honor to work for this prestigious brand. I am really looking forward to my new role as test and development driver for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Over the last few years, I have gained a lot of experience from my previous involvements in Formula E. I will do my best to help Porsche on the road to success.”
Thomas Preining, Porsche Young Professional Driver, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
“I am very much looking forward to my new role in the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. I have followed Formula E closely from the word go. I am very excited to see what it feels like to drive the Porsche 99X Electric on the track. It is great to be able to support Porsche in its debut season in Formula E, and to be a part of this future-oriented project from the outset.”
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