Porsche Factory Drivers Get American Rides

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Porsche Motorsports North America has made a leadership change. (IMSA Photo)

STUTTGART, Germany – Seven Porsche Motorsport factory drivers will focus their efforts on North American-based programs and two more have already received their assignments for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup long-distance events.

Four works drivers have been named as the prime crew for the two-car Porsche GT Team operation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans class. The No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR will see 2015 IMSA GTLM Champion Patrick Pilet challenging for another title in the United States and Canada-focused series. Pilet has been a factory driver since 2008.

Joining the Frenchman is German Dirk Werner. Werner is himself a former Grand-Am GT class champion piloting Porsche 911 Cup cars in 2007 and 2009. Frédéric Makowiecki was an IMSA regular in 2016, winning at the Circuit of the Americas. Next year he will share the No. 911 in the longer Endurance Cup events with Pilet and Werner.

The No. 912 will have second-year Porsche factory ace Kévin Estre behind the wheel for the full campaign. Sharing the new 911 RSR will be works driver freshman Laurens Vanthoor. The Belgian was announced as a factory driver in early December but has already joined the operation in testing the new Porsche 911 RSR in its on-track public debut at Daytona Int’l Speedway in mid-December. Austrian Richard Lietz will be back in IMSA racing as the endurance specialist in the No. 912. Lietz spent 2015 racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

With one full season under its belt, the Porsche 911 GT3 R will again be the choice for Porsche customer programs in IMSA and the Pirelli World Challenge. The Porsche entrant for categories using the international GT3 regulations was a contender for PWC GT and GTA class championships in 2016 and had one victory in the IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) category.

Jörg Bergmeister will return for a second season in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R co-driving with driver/team principal Patrick Lindsey. The pairing of the German and American had multiple podiums in the class in 2016.

Longtime Porsche team partner TRG returns to the German sports car manufacturer in 2017 in the IMSA GT Daytona class. The California-based operation, with the bulk of its past success closely tied to Porsche, will be reunited with German Wolf Henzler. Henzler has been a factory driver since 2008.

North America’s only Porsche factory driver, Patrick Long, has unfinished business in the Pirelli World Challenge. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., driver will have his opportunity to pick-up where he left off by returning to Wright Motorsports in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Long is in pursuit of his second PWC GT Drivers’ Championship having taken his first title in America’s premier sprint-format sports car series in 2011. He finished second in the category this year, narrowly missing the title. A factory driver since 2004, and a Porsche junior prior to that, Long also joins CORE autosport in the team’s new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 R for the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29.