• Esports Supercup. Benecke Two-Time Winner in Barcelona, Verstappen Podiums. • Virtual Monaco. Strong Formula E Performance in Monaco Rounds for Porsche. • Porsche Podcast. Michael Steiner on the Future of Porsche Sports Cars. • PYDA Reflections. Alec Udell, Class of 2015.
Event Story Lines.
Esports Supercup. Benecke Two-Time Winner in Barcelona, Verstappen Podiums.
Saturday May 9 was successful second round for Maximilian Benecke (Germany) driving for Team Redline in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup. The 2019 runner-up in the sim racing series developed by Porsche Digital won both the sprint and main races on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (Spain). Formula 1-star Max Verstappen (Netherlands) once again underlined his talent in the virtual Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car claiming a second-place finish in the 30-minute race behind his Team Redline teammate Benecke. Forty sim racers contested the doubleheader event on the iRacing simulation platform.
Right from the start of the 15-minute sprint race, Benecke laid the foundation for his first victory of the season. Heading into the race from the third grid spot, the 25-year-old took the outside line at the first corner to overtake Sindre Setsaas (Netherlands) driving for CoRe SimRacing and Jarrad Filsell (Australia) in the Apex Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer. Benecke then proceeded to pull clear of his pursuers over the remaining laps to cross the finish line in first-place with a 1.2-second advantage over Setsaas. Filsell claimed the third podium step.
Pole-setter Benecke again kept his cool at the start of the 30-minute main race. The Redline driver defended his lead and pulled away from the field. After 17 solid laps, Benecke clinched his second victory of the day on the 2.89-mile (4.655-kilometer) circuit.
In the main race, the situation among the pursuing pack grew turbulent behind Benecke: Max Verstappen benefited the most. After starting the race from seventh position, the Formula 1 driver was running in third-place after the first lap. Verstappen then set out to put more and more pressure on Sindre Setsaas. On lap four, the Dutchman made his move, squeezing past the CoRe sim racer at the end of the start-finish straight.
Third-place went to Setsaas after successfully fending off Dayne Warren (Australia) over several laps.
In the overall rankings, Warren now leads with 103 points. Brian Lockwood (Tallahassee, Florida) driving the RaceKraft Esports Porsche is currently in second-place, four points behind the Australian. Last year’s champion Joshua Rogers (Australia) sits in third-place with the VRS Coanda Simsport virtual Porsche with 90 points.
Next up on the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup calendar is Donington Park Circuit in England on May 23. The storied racetrack southwest of Nottingham was opened in 1931 and is the oldest track in England that is still used for motor racing events.
Maximilian Benecke, Driver, Team Redline Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Virtual Race Car.
“The season-opening event at Zandvoort was disappointing for me, unfortunately. My team then worked hard and tested with me during the week and that paid off in Barcelona. My starts were great, and I was very careful with the tires. That’s how I managed to maintain my lead.”
Max Verstappen, Driver, Team Redline Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Virtual Race Car.
“We did a lot of work over the last days and the result shows that the effort was worth it. First and second-place in the main race is simply great for the team. The field is extremely competitive. It’s impressive and I think it’s really cool to be part of it.”
Virtual Monaco. Strong Formula E Performance in Monaco Rounds for Porsche.
The virtual Monaco circuit proved to be fruitful soil for the drivers of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. Neel Jani (Switzerland) and André Lotterer (Germany) finished in fourth and seventh-place to score valuable points in the Driver and Team competitions at round three of the “Race at Home Challenge” run by the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Test and development driver Simona De Silvestro (Switzerland) had previously finished 17th in the “Challenger Grid” race against sim racers and well-known influencers.
Starting from seventh and twelfth-places on the grid for the main race, Jani and Lotterer initially managed to successfully avoid any incidents. Both climbed three places and, compared to the opposition, continued to demonstrate strong pace and clever tactics after the early stages. As he had done in last week’s race, Jani, at the wheel of the virtual No. 18 Porsche 99X Electric, held on to finish in fourth-place. Lotterer made up a further two positions in the No. 36 car and eventually crossed the finish line in seventh-place.
The result was enough to earn Lotterer his first points in the digital series. Jani picked up twelve points for his fourth-place finish, taking the Swiss to 24 points and fifth-place in the overall standings. After three races, Lotterer currently lies tenth.
In the “Challenge Grid” race featuring sim racers and influencers, De Silvestro delivered a consistent performance in her digital Porsche 99X Electric. Starting from 22nd, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team test and development driver immediately gained four positions at the start. The Swiss pilot then climbed into 17th-place on lap four – a position she maintained for the rest of the race.
About the “Race at Home Challenge”
Race four of the championship will take place on May 16. The online races will be contested each week through the grand finale on June 7. Each live broadcast gets underway at 10:30 a.m. EST on the Formula E YouTube Channel.
The “Race at Home Challenge” is a partnership between the FIA Formula E Championship and the child welfare organization UNICEF, which will be receiving the donations raised during the race events.
Marco Ujhasi, Manager Esports at Porsche Motorsport.
“That was another display of pure virtual racing action today. Qualifying was rather mixed for Neel and André. They could both have started from further up the grid, however they both fought hard. Generally speaking, we are happy with the result and the points that both Neel and André scored after a flawless race. Simona once again did well in the ‘Challenge Grid’ race for professional sim racers and managed to climb into 17th-place.”
Neel Jani, Driver, No. 18 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“My latest fourth-place in the ‘Race at Home Challenge’ feels great. The seventh-fastest time in qualifying was okay. I had a good start in the race and was able to climb straight into fourth-place in turn one. After that, it was all about staying fully-focused. Two fourth-places in a row – I now hope I can make it onto the podium next time.”
André Lotterer, Driver, No. 36 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“Overall, I am happy with seventh-place. I did not put in a flawless lap in qualifying and lost a bit of time in turn two. I then worked my way through the field from eleventh-place on the grid in the race. I picked up some valuable points in seventh-place, although I was hoping for more. I am now looking forward to the next race and another shot.”
Simona De Silvestro, Driver, No. 36 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“I am happy to have been involved in my second virtual Formula E race. Like last Saturday, I started from the eleventh row after a rather tough qualifying session. Turn two was chaotic and cost me some time. After that, I was able to climb a few places and ultimately came home in 17th-place. My goal for future outings is to secure a better starting position in qualifying.”
Porsche Podcast. Michael Steiner on the Future of Porsche Sports Cars.
As Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, Michael Steiner is responsible for series production and racing projects for Porsche Motorsport. In episode seven of the “Inside E” podcast, Steiner speaks about changes in the automotive industry, the future of the sportscar manufacturer, and technical innovations ranging from motor racing to production development. Entering the fully-electric ABB FIA Formula E Championship with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team has high priority and promises to produce synergies between motorsport and future production developments, as Steiner explains in the podcast.
Motorsport has always been the driving force behind series production at Porsche – and that remains the case in Formula E. The sporting aspirations are high, especially as the history of Porsche is shaped by countless motorsport successes. Steiner is happy with the rookie season of Formula E thus far. A second-place finish in race one and a pole position have left the team confident of more success – both on and off the racetrack.
The first step into the electric future was taken back in 2015, with the “Mission E” project. The manufacturer then definitively heralded a new era with the launch of its first fully-electric sports car, the Porsche Taycan, in September 2019. North American dealerships and customers began taking delivery of Taycan models in December 2019.
The Porsche Formula E podcast is available in English and can be downloaded now in the Porsche Newsroom. “Inside E” is also available on other platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development.
“We see the transformation in the automotive industry as an opportunity. Together with our employees, we are constantly driving this shift, with the clear goal being to link the traditional values of Porsche with the technology of tomorrow.
“With electric cars, it not only comes down to the range of the cars, but also primarily the existing charging infrastructure. For this reason, we are investing in E-mobility, both in our development and in an extensive rapid charging network.
“The experience gained in the LMP1 project had a significant influence on the development of the Porsche Taycan. We expect similar synergies from the Formula E project, as well as inspiration for future sportscars.”
PYDA Reflections. Alec Udell, Class of 2015.
One of the first manufacturers to create not only a “factory driver” group but also a “Junior” program, Porsche continues its efforts to assist young racing talent beyond its “works” team. Since 2012, Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) have provided aspiring race car drivers from the United States and Canada an opportunity to develop their professional skills at the North American Porsche Young Driver Academy (PYDA). While tweaked each year, the PYDA syllabus is founded on the principles and practices of the marque’s European Junior selection process. The Academy puts four drivers through intensive classroom activities with the objective to broaden and sharpen talents not only behind the wheel but also out of the cockpit. While education has always been the hallmark of the two-day invitation-only event held each fall, the “Academy” is also a determining factor for the IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship. The annual honor provides the selected driver with a package of tangible assets to present to teams in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama for the upcoming season.
In the coming weeks we will spotlight one of the 33 drivers who have taken part in the PYDA. Since 2012, graduates have gone on to win races and championships in series around the world, both in Porsche race cars and not. To date, drivers have won five IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships, 13 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge championships, three SRO-sanctioned championships, the Indy Lights Championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Petit Le Mans as well as races in NASCAR, Trans Am, Rallycross and more. This week, we look at Alec Udell (The Woodlands, Texas).
Alec Udell Highlights.
- PYDA Class: 2015 - 2019 SRO GT4 Europe Champion - 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Hard Charger Award Recipient - 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GT Cup Champion – Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car - Pirelli World Challenge GTA Race Winner – Porsche 911 GT3 R race car
Alec Udell began his early career racing karts, winning the 2008 Rotax National Championship. The following year he was selected to represent Team USA at the Grand Finals in Egypt. Although young, Udell’s age was no problem his talent couldn’t overcome. The Texan made history as a 15-year old by becoming the youngest driver in SRO GT World Challenge America, formerly known as Pirelli World Challenge, history. In 2015, Udell had to learn a new car to drive, a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. It was a learning year for the then teenager who still set his sights high.
The North American Porsche Young Driver Academy had already gotten a reputation as a prestigious program and drivers, like Udell remembers, sought an invitation to it: “It was one of my targets going into that year, aside from winning the championship. When I got the invitation, I was extremely excited. I saw the PYDA as a first step to where I wanted to go.”
The Texan had been chosen as one of the participants to attend the 2015 North American Porsche Young Driver Academy (PYDA). Held at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, the Academy is the sports car manufacturer’s North American opportunity to evaluate young driving talent.
“One thing that jumped out to me was it wasn’t all about the driving, it was about the whole package” recognized the Clemson University graduate. “They looked to see how you work receiving feedback and how you work with a team. Those other elements touched on had a more lasting impact.”
Starting in 2019, a ‘winner’ has been announced at the end of the two-day event. This was not the case when Udell went through the program. But, then, like now, what the young drivers are able to do in the car is not the only factor taken into account. How each individual handles themselves in the off-track day dealing with things like mental and psychological teachings, media training and technical briefings are also closely eyed by all.
“Growing up watching racing I always knew I wanted to go to Europe. I saw it as another challenge” said Udell. “Getting to go to new tracks and new places and having to learn and challenge myself is what I love.”
Based off Porsche’s Junior driver selection process, this event gives the likes of Udell and others the chance to see how Porsche vets young talent. With many industry specialists in attendance, the operation is run under the watchful eye of the co-creator, North America’s only Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long.
“Getting to pick Patrick’s brain was one of the cooler experiences. I have an RS Spyder hat he signed from when I was 10 or 11. I definitely looked up to him and it was one of the cool things about it,” enthused Udell. “You listen to what Hurley says and your jaw drops. Hearing how things were for him and the era he drove in reaffirmed my passion for the sport.”
The IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship awarded to the PYDA recipient chosen from that year’s class offers a set of assets that can be taken to race teams looking to run the following year in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama. Named after Porsche racing legend Hurley Haywood, the five-time Rolex winner is at Barber Motorsports Park himself to watch how the young drivers perform throughout the event and provide his insight.
“There’s a lot of barriers of entry to the sport and it makes it kind of difficult to get where you want to go. You have to have a way to distinguish yourself,” considers Udell. “I could probably point to the PYDA and definitely say I stepped my game up after that. Porsche showed you what it takes to get to the highest level and that they keep an eye out for guys like me.”
Being distinguished as a PYDA participant has shown the racing world what kind of driver Alec Udell is. After getting that chance in 2015, the Texan continued racing SRO series in the German marque’s machinery while earning his mechanical engineering degree from Clemson University. Once he graduated in 2018, he made the decision to go race in Europe where in 2019 he became the first American to win in the SRO GT4 European Series.
Porsche GT Team (North America). @PorscheNARacing
Porsche Motorsport – GT Cars. @PorscheRaces
Porsche Racing. @PorscheTeam
Porsche Motorsport North America. @PorscheMotorsportNorthAmerica (Instagram)
Porsche Formula E. @PorscheFormulaE (Twitter)
@porsche.formulae (Instagram) Porsche Newsroom. @PorscheNewsroom (Twitter)
Porsche 99X Electric. #99XElectric
Porsche 911 RSR. #911RSR
Porsche 911 GT3 R. #911GT3R
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. #911Cup
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. #GT4Clubsport
Porsche 935. #Porsche935
Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport. #GT2RSClubsport
Series Hashtags and Handles.
GT3 Cup Challenge USA. #GT3USA
GT3 Cup Challenge Canada. #GT3Canada
Porsche Sprint Trophy USA West. @PirelliTrophyWestUSA (Instagram)
SRO America @SROAmerica
SRO GT4 America #GT4America
FIA World Endurance Championship. @FIAWEC
Intercontinental GT Challenge. @IntercontGTC
FIA ABB Formula E Championship. @FIAFormulaE