Porsche’s flagship 919 World Endurance Championship Le Mans prototype effort was left with three open seats to fill at the end of this season with the departure of Mark Webber, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb. Fortunately, they knew three prior 24 Hours of Le Mans winners who could fill those seats.
Porsche announced their new works drivers at their annual postseason Night of Champions gala in Weissach today. As expected, Porsche added three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and ex-Audi R18 hotshoe André Lotterer to the Porsche 919 team. Despite all the talent available after Audi’s departure, the other seats went to two of Porsche’s own works drivers: Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy.
Bamber and Tandy may be best known in the United States for competing with the Porsche Motorsport North America team in the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, however, this won’t be their first time in the 919. The pair won Le Mans in 2015 as part of Porsche’s third car, sharing driving duties with Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg. So, to quote noted eloquent dude James May: “Good news!” They know how to win in this car.
Next year’s 919s will retain the numbers 1 and 2, which is fitting for the team that won Le Mans, the WEC manufacturers’ championship and the WEC drivers’ championship this year. Lotterer and Tandy will join Neel Jani in the No. 1 car, and Bamber will join Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard in the No. 2.
Next year’s 919 Hybrid will be an evolution of this year’s car, with a “complete overhaul” of all its components, including better optimized aerodynamics and a new livery, per Porsche’s press release. We’ll have to wait until March 23 to see the new car at its official unveiling at the WEC Prologue at Monza, that is, of course, unless someone wants to drop a line to email@example.com with testing photos.
The two-car WTSC Porsche 911 squad has had a bit of a driver shake-up of their own in the wake of Tandy and Bamber’s departure. Patrick Pilet and ex-BMW WTSC driver Dirk Werner will share the No. 911 car. Corvette Racing’s favorite driver Frédéric Makowiecki will be added to the No. 911 team for the four longer races of the season.
No. 912 in North America will be split between the 1-2 finishers at friggin’ Macau of all places, FIA GT World Cup winning turtle Laurens Vanthoor and Porsche works driver Kévin Estre. Like Makowiecki on the No. 911, Richard Lietz will join the No. 912 pair for the four longer races.