Porsche have completed their LMP1 squad for the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the announcement of the final two regular drivers and the official name of the new car.
Named the Porsche 919 hybrid the car pays homage to Porsche’s history in sportscar racing by following on from the Porsche 917 as well as the 918 Spyder as well as acknowledging the hybrid technology that is not only present in the LMP1 machine, but also in models of Porsche’s road car range.
With drivers Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Neel Jani and Mark Webber already confirmed as part of Porsche’s return to the premier class of sportscar race the 2014 line-up will be completed by Marc Lieb – promoted from Porsche’s stable of works GT drivers – and Kiwi Brendon Hartley.
Hartley worked his way through the junior single seater formulae in Europe, reaching Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 and working as an F1 test driver for Red Bull Racing and, more recently, Mercedes, though never being given a race drive. For 2012 he switched his focus to sportscars, joining Murphy Prototypes for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and European Le Mans Series season, before adding Rolex Series commitments with Starworks Motorsport to his schedule for 2013.
“I’m incredibly proud that Porsche has chosen me,” said Hartley. “I was deeply impressed at my first outing in Le Mans. But to compete there in the LMP1 for an iconic company like Porsche is another dimension completely.”
A former Porsche junior driver Lieb, meanwhile has become one of Porsche’s top GT drivers, becoming a regular partner to fellow Porsche works man Richard Lietz in the GT class, the pair twice winning the GT2 class of the European Le Mans Series and taking a second 24 Hours of Le Mans class win in 2013 with the Porsche AG Team Manthey squad.
“We are very proud of our strong international driver line-up,” said Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG. “Three of the six drivers come from our own Porsche driver squad, two were even Porsche juniors. This is something we are particularly proud of.”
“We had a substantial number of applicants from all classes for the two 919 hybrids,” said Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1. “We were looking for experience, sheer speed, technical understanding, and we wanted team players because this is more important in endurance racing than in any discipline.”
Porsche’s 2013 testing regime drew to close earlier this month at Portimao in Portugal with Mark Webber getting his first laps behind the wheel of his 2014 charge. Testing will restart early in the new year as the team work towards their first race of the WEC season at Silverstone on Easter Sunday.