Porsche Team Manthey has revised its factory driver line-up for the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Works drivers Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy will progress to the German manufacturer’s LMP1 squad to contest the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, in addition to Le Mans.
The two GTE-Pro class Porsche 911 RSR entries have been altered as a result, with Danish driver Michael Christensen and Austrian Richard Lietz set to pilot the #91 car. The #92 machine will consequently be shared by two of last year’s FIA WEC drivers, Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet. Jörg Bergmeister (#91) and Wolf Henzler (#92) will join the two full-time pairings as third drivers for the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 13-14).
After a rigorous testing program with the Porsche 919 Hybrid and several outstanding performances in GT machinery, Bamber and Tandy were hand picked to partner Formula 1 star Nico Hülkenberg in Porsche’s third LMP1 entry.
Despite being the newest addition to the Porsche factory driver program, Bamber’s stellar performances of late have clearly caught the attention of the team’s management. Having won the 2014 Porsche Supercup, the New Zealander started the 2015 season with an impressive performance at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Alongside his LMP1 commitments, Bamber will continue to represent Porsche in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship, driving a GTLM class 911 RSR.
Bamber said: “Receiving support from Porsche was the chance of a lifetime as a race driver. I’ve reached new levels in every aspect and I’ll do my utmost to justify this trust again this season.”
Tandy is another driver whose Porsche career has flourished significantly in the last few years. After winning the 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland he was victorious at the 2013 Petit Le Mans, as well as last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Like Bamber, Tandy will be running a double-duty campaign with the 919 Hybrid and the 911 RSR this season.
The promotion of Bamber and Tandy to Porsche’s LMP1 program now means that four of the manufacturer’s top-tier drivers have worked their way up from Porsche single make championships. Timo Bernhard started his journey to a 919 Hybrid seat in the 2001 edition of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, while 6 Hours of São Paulo winner Marc Lieb won the same title the following year.
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche Head of Motorsport said: “I’m thrilled for Earl and Nick. They’ve earned this chance with their impressive performances. Their rise into the premier class of long distance racing not only confirms the effectiveness of the Porsche youth development concept; it also underlines the importance of Porsche’s brand trophy series as a career stepping stone for young race drivers who bring the necessary talent, a great willingness to learn and the critical will to succeed.”