Porsche Young Driver Academy reveals class of 2017

by Vince Pettit

Porsche Young Driver Academy has unveiled its line up for the sixth time which sees a selection of four drivers from a pool of IMSA and the Pirelli World Challenge, backed by Porsche Cars North America for the next year.

Taking place at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on 22/23 October, twenty-five drivers were evaluated on and off track and filtered down to the final four of Brazilian Rodrigo Baptista, Michael de Quesada from Tampa, Florida, Trenton Estep from San Antonio, Texas and Zach Robichon from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

All four of the chosen drivers have experienced race wins behind the wheel of a Porsche, with three of the four taking parting in the Porsche one-make classes of IMSA – de Quesada and Robichon in the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, Estep in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Both series utilize the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Baptista raced, and won, in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class piloting a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR.

Credit: IMSA

Over the two days the Academy faced classroom exercises, on-camera interviews with FOX Sports Jamie Howe, renowned motorsport documentary maker JF Musial of Tangent Vector, media training with Dave Engelman, Spokesperson, PCNA Motorsports and Brand Heritage and personality evaluations by Life-Long Leadership’s president and CEO, Christina Kisley.

Owen Hayes, Director of Operations for Porsche Motorsport North America, assisted with technical and constructive critique throughout the process, while Racing legend and lead Porsche Sport Driving School instructor Hurley Haywood , Porsche stalwart Patrick Long and GT racing champion Andrew Davies offered car setup and data acquisition assistance.

“When PMNA and PCNA created the Porsche Young Driver program six years ago, we wanted to make the most of young driver talent in North America.” said Hayes.

Credit: IMSA

“The thought was to put our best collective foot forward and give up and coming drivers guidance, while also recognizing them for achieving significant accomplishments early in their motorsport careers.

“By working closely with IMSA, Michelin and the Porsche Sport Driving School, we have created a solid platform that continues to provide valuable tools and experience to the attendees.

“There are many talented and worthy drivers here in the United States and Canada and we invest heavily to make the program happen. If past performance is an indicator, we are making a positive difference on all fronts.”

Credit: Pirelli World Challenge

Dave Engelman, Spokesperson, Motorsports and Brand Heritage, Porsche Cars North America added, “With the Porsche Junior and Young Professional programs in Germany, and the Porsche Young Driver Academy here in North America, it is easy to see how Porsche is supporting motorsport at the level it is needed most.

“It is most gratifying when the results speak for themselves, both in and out of the racecar. A recent example would be when Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare and former Porsche Junior, and current factory ‘works’ driver Michael Christensen teamed with the father-son duo of Carlos and Michael de Quesada – one of this year’s PYDA attendees – at Alegra Motorsports to win the GTD class this past year at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.”

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