• Porsche Presence. German Marque and VIR Are Traditionally Good Match. • Wehrlein Works. Pascal Wehrlein Named TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Works Driver. • Positive Premiere. Positive Formula E Debut Season Overall for Porsche. • PCA Porsche. Hill Country Region of Porsche Club of America Supports One-Make Driver. • Turbulent Spa Win. Porsche WEC Factory Effort Captures Le Mans Rehearsal.
Event Story Lines.
Porsche Presence. German Marque and VIR Are Traditionally Good Match.
A lot has changed since the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship last visited VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in 2019. The world has become a very different place since fans last crowded into the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit in Alton, Virginia to see the world’s fastest and most competitive sports cars battle for supremacy in the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR. Sadly, spectators won’t be able to line the fences to watch Porsche challenge Corvette and BMW for top honors in GTLM or the German marque facedown Ferrari, Lexus, Acura, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Mercedes in the production-based GTD class. But, while everything changes, some things remain the same… a Porsche at VIR is still a strong combination.
Having been built with a mindset that racing makes the road car better, it is no coincidence that the world’s most successful motorsport brand – with over 30,000 international victories – also leads the lifetime wins tally at VIR. In fact, it was a Porsche 550 RS being piloted by Bob Holbert that took the checkered flag first in the inaugural VIR race in 1957. To put that into perspective, Porsche had only started building cars under its own name in 1948 and the first Porsche was not seen on U.S. soil until 1950. Since that first victory, the German sports car manufacturer has stepped onto the top step of the podium 21 times in major race series at VIR.
It was hard to beat the small and nimble Stuttgart, Germany-built machines of the 1950s and ‘60s. Eight VIR trophies adorn Porsche drivers through 1968 – half of which went home with Holbert. In 1971, the legendary combination of Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood won the Danville 300 driving a Brumos Racing-prepared Porsche 914-6 in a nail biting finish against Corvette. Haywood was still enlisted in the U.S. Army when he took that first win since his return from duty in Vietnam. Gregg/Haywood would return to lead a Porsche top-five sweep in 1972 driving a Brumos Racing 911.
Porsche success in Virginia did not end in the ‘70s. While the track closed after the “Dynamic Duo” from Brumos won in ‘72, the rear-engined 911s would storm back when the gates were unlocked and racing continued here in 2004 with Randy Pobst and Mike Levitas hoisting the GRAND-AM Rolex GT trophy. Paul Miller Racing won the 2007 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series round at VIR. Andy Lally/Ted Ballou took the honor in 2010 sharing a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car. In 2011, Action Express won the Rolex Series race overall in a Riley Daytona Prototype powered by a Porsche Cayenne-sourced engine. SRO World Challenge GT America race and class titles would further fill the record books.
In 2020, despite the impact COVID-19 has had on the entry list, Porsche still plays a major part. Twin Porsche 911 RSR-19 race cars will be at the sharp-end of the grid when the two-hour and 40-minute GT-only race takes the green flag on Saturday, August 22. Fighting for the GTLM championship – a feat they are attempting to replicate from 2019 – “works” drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team entry will face their factory teammates Fred Makowiecki (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) who will share the No. 911. Tandy and Patrick Pilet (France) paired to win the race last year. Tandy also holds a VIR victory from 2015 when he and Pilet won the race overall in a previous generation Porsche 911 RSR. Bamthor – as Bamber and Vanthoor have come to be known – were in second-place last year at the checkered flag. In the same race but running in the privateer GTD class, North America’s only Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), will team with Atlanta Georgia’s Ryan Hardwick in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, 500-horspower racer. While the only Porsche entry in the class, success at VIR is familiar to Long. He took the overall win there in a Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype in 2006.
Porsche race cars are also sprinkled throughout other events at VIR this weekend. The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport will lead the Porsche contingent at the Southern Virginia-area facility as the weekend finale on Sunday, August 23. The two-hour race for GT4-spec machines – which share up to 80 percent of their components with their road-going counterparts – will see the No. 7 Archangel Motorsports driven by Alan Brynjolfsson (Tampa, Florida) and Trent Hindman (Wayside, New Jersey) and the No. 38 BGB Motorsports mid-engine Porsche race cars compete. BGB’s entry will be shared by Thomas Collingwood (Canada) and Jan Heylen (Netherlands/Dunedin. Florida). In addition, 17 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars will run in two, 45-minute events on Saturday and Sunday. The world’s most prolific race car is the sole entrant in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR can be seen live online at IMSA.TV as well as on the NBC Sports TrackPass, Saturday, August 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT. A delayed broadcast of the two-hour, 40-minute event will be shown on NBCSN at 10:00 a.m. ET, Sunday, August 23.
Wehrlein Works. Pascal Wehrlein Named TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Works Driver.
Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) will contest the 2020/2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship for the Porsche factory effort in the all-electric racing series. The 25-year-old will join André Lotterer (Germany) as the driver pairing for Season 7 of the open wheel racing championship. Wehrlein has competed in 17 races in the world’s premier electric race series to date. In his career, Wehrlein has earned 72 points, secured a pole position and clinched a spot on the podium in his maiden season in 2018/19 when he finished in second-place at the Santiago E-Prix.
The new TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver gained his initial experience in karting. Wehrlein made his debut in the ADAC Formula Masters in 2010 and won the title a year later. After finishing in second-place in the Formula 3 European Series in 2012, he competed in touring car racing in the years that followed. Between 2013 and 2015 and in 2018, Wehrlein contested the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), where he celebrated three victories. He made history in 2015 when, at the age of 20, he became the youngest DTM champion of all time. Wehrlein raced for Manor and Sauber in Formula 1 in 2016 and 2017.
Wehrlein will contest his first race for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team on January 16, 2021 at the Santiago E-Prix.
The Porsche Formula E podcast will feature Wehrlein this week. The podcast is in English and can be accessed in the Porsche Newsroom. “Inside E” is also available on other platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport.
“We are delighted to welcome Pascal to the Porsche family. He has gained a lot of experience in different race series at his young age, where he has always sparkled. We would also like to thank Neel Jani for his outstanding commitment. He played a significant part in the development of our Formula E project and thereby contributed greatly to the successes of the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team this past season. Neel will stay with Porsche. We will see him in action in future motorsport projects again very soon which I’m very pleased about. With Pascal and André we will have two experienced, top-class Formula E drivers in the 2020/2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, who have everything it takes to celebrate further success.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche Factory Driver.
“It is a great honor for me to represent Porsche in the 2020/2021 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. I have always followed the brand’s unique motorsport history. I have huge respect for the legendary Porsche success story. Now, to line up as a works driver for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team is a fantastic opportunity. I would like to thank everyone at Porsche for this amazing opportunity and for trusting in my skills. Now I am looking forward to getting to know the team and starting work in Weissach as quickly as possible.”
Carlo Wiggers, Director Team Management & Business Relations Porsche Motorsport.
“We are delighted to welcome Pascal to Porsche Motorsport. An experienced Formula E driver is joining our ranks who is not only fast but also fits our team and brand really well as a whole. Neel has contributed greatly to the journey thus far in Formula E. His commitment and his readiness to pass on the Formula E cockpit show he is a great sportsman. The success of the team and Porsche is the focus for all of us. That is why we are delighted that Neel will remain one of us. Now, it’s time for Pascal to immerse himself in the world of Porsche quickly.”
Positive Premiere. Positive Formula E Debut Season Overall for Porsche.
Porsche wrapped its debut season of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship on August 13 with the sixth race in nine days for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team. André Lotterer (Germany) was the best-placed Porsche driver in the 11th race of the year, crossing the finishing line in Berlin, Germany in 14th position. He had already secured a points finish in all five previous races of the multi-race season finale stand in the German capital. Neel Jani (Switzerland) finished in 15th position in the Porsche 99X Electric race car.
In the drivers’ championship, Lotterer finished in eighth-place in the overall standings with 71 points. He reached the podium on two occasions, first at the season-opener in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. Jani’s best result in his first full Formula E season, which he finished with eight points in 20th position overall, was sixth-place at the penultimate race in Berlin. With 79 points and eighth-place in the team championship, the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team concluded a more successful debut season than any newcomer since Season 2 of the fully-electric series.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport.
“Berlin represented the conclusion of what was, in many ways, an extraordinary season in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. We have celebrated our debut in fully-electric motor racing – and achieved success from the word go. André Lotterer finished second at the season-opener to reach the podium. He followed this up with another podium finish in Berlin. We scored points with the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team in eight out of 11 events. That is an outstanding record for a newcomer to Formula E. We entered this championship without any experience from being a partner or customer team and worked hard together for every single achievement. I am incredibly proud of the whole team – at the race track and in Weissach. Huge thanks to the drivers Neel Jani and André Lotterer, as well as our partners. None of this would have been possible without them. Of course, the season took a most unexpected turn with the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic. Congratulations to Formula E for organizing such a thrilling finale in Berlin despite everything. We were able to stay focused during the long break, which enabled us to give everything. That was rewarded with good results. We will now immediately start to concentrate on preparations for the upcoming season. We have gained plenty of experience that will only make us stronger for the challenges ahead. I can say one thing for definite: Porsche feels at home in Formula E. Our goal for next season is clear: winning.”
Amiel Lindesay, Head of Operations Formula E.
“Our first Formula E season finished without scoring any more points. However, we are very pleased overall. We knew that it would be a big challenge for us to enter as a completely new team. But we overcame this challenge. Second-place at the season-opener in Diriyah really gave us some extra motivation at the start. The experience gained throughout the season was just as important and we will benefit from this in the future. Six races in nine days in Berlin was a very intensive experience, but one that brought us even closer together. We are already looking forward to next season.”
Neel Jani, Driver, No. 18 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“All in all, I would have liked to have scored more points for Porsche. But luck was just not on my side in some races. Nonetheless, I think that we can be very satisfied as a team. We have learned a lot and gained valuable experience.”
André Lotterer, Driver, No. 36 TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team Porsche 99X Electric.
“It is a bit disappointing to finish the year without any points. But overall, it was a good first season for us. We had two second-places, some good races and a few that weren't so good. We still have plenty to learn about this series. But it was a promising start. I think that we will be even stronger next year.”
PCA Porsche. Hill Country Region of Porsche Club of America Supports One-Make Driver.
The Porsche Club of America (PCA) is the world’s largest Porsche owner’s organization. Porsche owners have a deep tie to their cars and, by extension motorsports. As such, PCA has had a longstanding tradition of using motorsport as a venue for club events as well as track and competition events. IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama entrant Moorespeed announced an increased cooperation with its local PCA region beginning with this weekend’s rounds three and four of the 2020 one-make championship. Moorespeed principal David Moore and driver Riley Dickinson (New Braunfels, Texas) have donated the hood of the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car starting with this weekend’s event at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in Alton, Virginia for a raffle to benefit the operation’s efforts. The Hill Country Region (HCR) of the PCA is based in Austin, Texas.
Dickinson, the current IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner, has earned a victory and a second-place finish thus far in 2020 and leads the overall championship. The college freshman finished in third-place in his rookie season in 2019. HCR will leverage Dickinson’s coaching skills to assist the young driver fund his racing endeavors in the Platinum class of the series that uses the Porsche 911 GT3 road car-based racer for all competitors. HCR will raffle a day of coaching to three winners. 100 percent of the proceeds from the raffle will go to RD Motorsports, LLC to help defray Dickinson’s expenses.
David Moore, Principal, Moorespeed, No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“We are proud to announce a new partnership with the Hill Country Region Porsche Club of America in support of Riley Dickinson where we are both members as well as Moorespeed being a longtime supporter. HCRPCA, based here in Austin, Texas, is a great group of Porsche owners and enthusiast as well as our biggest fans. Thus, we are very proud to display their logo prominently on the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at VIR. To the lucky members who end up getting Riley as a coach for a day, I guarantee you’ll have a great time and learn a lot from a very experienced young man who is a natural born teacher.”
Turbulent Spa Win. Porsche WEC Factory Effort Captures Le Mans Rehearsal.
The Porsche GT Team scored its second win of the season at round six of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on August 15. The reigning LMGTE-Pro world champions Kévin Estre (France) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) took the checkered flag in first-place at the wheel of the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR race car at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium. In a chaotic race with heavy rain and three safety car phases, the factory squad kept cool at all times. Implementing a perfect tactic and with a strong driving performance, the successful team of the German sports car manufacturer won the race from pole position. Italy’s Gianmaria Bruni and his Austrian teammate Richard Lietz finished in fifth-place in the ca. 515 hp sister car with the starting number 91. In the LMGTE-Am category, the experienced Dempsey-Proton Racing customer squad finished the race in second-place.
In the overall championship standings, the second-placed Porsche factory squad managed to reduce the gap to the top. In the drivers’ championship, the defending champions Estre and Christensen advanced to second-place.
In the LMGTE-Am class, the customer team Dempsey-Proton Racing claimed its first podium result of the season. Christian Ried (Germany), Italian Riccardo Pera and Porsche works driver Matt Campbell (Australia) earned second-place.
The WEC contests round seven on September 19 – 20 in Le Mans, France, where the 88th edition of the legendary 24-hour race will be held on the 8.45-mile (13.6-kilometer) Circuit de la Sarthe.
Pascal Zurlinden, Director Factory Motorsport.
“Congratulations to the entire team at the track and to our development squad in Weissach. The Porsche 911 RSR proved extremely competitive in all sessions. In the race, the team’s and drivers’ wealth of experience paid off once again. The tactics were perfect in difficult conditions, our works drivers pushed the car to the limit at all times and brought them over the finish line unscathed. This win gives us an addition boost for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans in September. We’re ready for the big highlight!”
Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC.
“For us, this was a perfect restart after the 172-day enforced break in the WEC. Pole position on Friday, victory on Saturday – it couldn’t be better. Spa always throws huge challenges at us. Snow last year, torrential rain this year. We had some difficulties on the wet track but as soon as it dried up, we were back. Overall, it was extremely thrilling. The fight against Aston Martin and Ferrari was fun. We couldn’t have wished for a better dress rehearsal for Le Mans.”
Michael Christensen, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“It was a rollercoaster of emotions. With the changing conditions, it became really hard to always make the right decisions. Once again, our team did it perfectly. Only in this way we could manage to drive to victory after a few setbacks on the extremely wet track – simply brilliant!”
Kévin Estre, Driver, No. 92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“What a wonderful weekend! We were fast in practice; we claimed pole position and won the race. The team put in a tactically strong performance. The second half of the race was on a dry track. It was precisely in this critical phase that we were back in full force and able to call on the full potential of our Porsche 911 RSR. We’ve taken an important step forward in the overall standings. At Le Mans, we aim to pick up exactly where we left off and go all-out.”
Gianmaria Bruni, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“That was a difficult race for us. We lost a lot of time because we drove too long on wet tires at the wrong moment. We took a gamble and tried to make up for it later. When the sun finally came out, we were the first ones back on the track with slicks. In the first laps I slid wildly and lost a lot of time. Once the grip improved, our train had already left the station.”
Richard Lietz, Driver, No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
“We didn’t do much wrong, but despite the good balance, our car simply couldn’t match the pace of the sister car. Position five is what we deserved based on our pace in the race. We couldn’t do much more considering today’s conditions. It’s a shame.”
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. @PorscheSprintTrophyUSAWest (Instagram)
SRO America @SROAmerica
SRO GT4 America #GT4America
FIA World Endurance Championship. @FIAWEC
Intercontinental GT Challenge. @IntercontGTC
FIA ABB Formula E Championship. @FIAFormulaE
Image courtesy of Porsche.