In the first part of our look at the Porsche Pyramid we delved in to the foundations of the programme and working through the national level of competition. In this second part we take a look at the move up in to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship supporting Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, International GT and the future of Porsche’s involvement in top-level motorsport.
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup
Since 1993 Porsche have had a partnership that has seen them become part of the Formula 1 circus around Europe along with a race further afield, which in recent seasons have seen the series travel to Mexico for a double-header.
In the 26 seasons of racing, eighteen different champions have been crowned, some on more than one occasion, the first champion of the series was touring car racer and 24 hours of Le Mans Class B runner up Altfrid Heger.
That year saw some fantastic battles before Heger could claim the title, including this memorable battle between Heger and future champion Uwe Alzen at the classic Hockenheimring circuit.
Jean-Pierre Malcher and Emmanuel Collard would claim the titles in 1995 and 1996 before ‘Mr Supercup’ Patrick Huisman secured four championships on the go; a feat that has yet to be repeated. Rene Rast comes close with three championship titles, while Richard Westbrook, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and reigning champion Michael Ammermüller all hold two titles.
With the championship benefitting from the Formula 1 infrastructure, teams and competitors have an ideal platform to impress in front of thousands of people over a Grand Prix weekend.
The series also regularly features a guest car which has seen the likes of Patrick Dempsey, Sébastien Loeb, Eddie Irvine, Sebastien Ogier and former number 1 tennis player Thomas Muster take part. The most successful of the guest drivers however is double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen who took victories in Monaco and Budapest against the regular field of drivers.
Like the Carrera Cup, Supercup also offers a platform for amateur racers to take part in the series and in the field of around 30 competitors can produce some fantastic battles throughout the field.
In recent years familiar sports car names such as Nicki Thiim, Earl Bamber, and Sven Müller have all won the championship before going on to factory drives, either for Porsche or other brands.
The Supercup also provides an ideal opportunity for Porsche Junior drivers to get a taste of the international stage. This year Julien Andlauer and Jaxon Evans take on the task as they bid to impress in the hope of gaining a full works drive.
International GT Racing
Seventeen factory drivers and four Porsche Young Professionals feature on the roster for the 2019 season, over the course of the year they will take part in numerous programs from FIA WEC, including the 24 hours of Le Mans, IMSA WeatherTech Championship, Nürburgring 24 hours, Intercontinental GT Challenge and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
For 2019 the programme lines up like this:
24 Hours of Le Mans
911 RSR #91 – Gianmaria Bruni / Richard Lietz / Frédéric Makowiecki
911 RSR #92 – Michael Christensen / Kévin Estre / Laurens Vanthoor
911 RSR #93 – Earl Bamber / Patrick Pilet / Nick Tandy
911 RSR #94 – Sven Müller / Mathieu Jaminet / Dennis Olsen
IMSA WeatherTech Championship
911 RSR #911 – Patrick Pilet / Nick Tandy / Frédéric Makowiecki*
911 RSR #912 – Earl Bamber / Laurens Vanthoor / Mathieu Jaminet*
* North American Endurance Cup
Nürburgring 24 Hours, Team Manthey Racing
911 GT3 R – Earl Bamber / Michael Christensen / Kévin Estre / Laurens Vanthoor
911 GT3 R – Richard Lietz / Frédéric Makowiecki / Patrick Pilet / Nick Tandy
Intercontinental GT Challenge and Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup
911 GT3 R – Romain Dumas / Sven Müller / Mathieu Jaminet
911 GT3 R – Dirk Werner / Dennis Olsen / Matt Campbell
Aside from these duties there will also be other opportunities for some of the factory drivers to take part in regional and national competitions as part of Pro-Am line ups.
FIA WEC and the evolution of the 919 Hybrid
In previous years the top of the pyramid has been marked with the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 programme, with the announcement at the end of the 2017 season that the car would not be racing in the FIA WEC the Pyramid changed, as GT and customer racing became the main focus for Porsche.
Throughout 2018 a selection of factory drivers were given the chance to drive an ‘Evo’ version of the 919, with no constraints or rule book to follow the 919 was streamlined in to the ultimate track machine.
Neel Jani would be the first driver to take the ‘Evo’ on track as he broke the lap record at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, 0.783 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap of 2017, and twelve seconds faster than the FIA WEC version of the 919 Hybrid in 2017.
The “919 Tribute Tour” visited the Nürburgring Nordschleife for the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Festival of Porsche at Brands Hatch and Laguna Seca as part of Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI.
During the run at Nürburgring Timo Bernhard broke the long-standing lap record set by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 with an impressive time of 5:19.546.
For the 2019/2020 FIA Formula E season Porsche will be joining the grid, and in doing so becomes the pinnacle of the Porsche Pyramid.
Neel Jani this week had his first taste of the new car as it hit the track at Weissach and will also be in place as one of the two drivers for the championship entry. Brendon Hartley will also be involved in the testing and development programme, hoping to be in the running for the final seat.
Porsche Pyramid – In Conclusion
From national competition through to international level, Porsche has invested a lot of time and money in to making the programme work, and while there is a level of luck and talent involved along the way, it is clear that the Porsche Pyramid is an important part of sports car and the motorsport racing world as a whole.