Just three weeks after the two Porsche 919 Hybrids and 911 RSR (GTE-Pro class) scored double victories at the Nürburgring, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) now heads into the second half of the season on 19 September with round five of eight at Austin (Texas). Before the six-hour race takes off on Saturday at 17.00 hours local time and continues into the night, first on the programme is the penultimate round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship TUSC, which starts in the heat of the day at 11.35 hours.
Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Le Mans winner Earl Bamber is on double duty at Austin: In addition to the WEC, he also contests the TUSC for Porsche North America sharing the cockpit of the number 912 Porsche 911 RSR with Jörg Bergmeister (DE). Patrick Pilet also tackles both races. In the second 911 RSR run by Porsche North America (#911), the points’ leader of the GTLM drivers’ classification joins forces with Britain’s Nick Tandy, who clinched overall victory at Le Mans with Bamber. Pilet and Tandy have won the last three races in Bowmanville, Road America and Danville. Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA), the winners of the six-hour classic at Watkins Glen, again take up the challenge for the Falken Tire customer team. After scoring four wins in a row, Porsche leads all classifications in the GTLM class.
The 5.513-kilometre Circuit of the Americas on the periphery of the Austin city limits features a spectacular layout with many corners linking, rapidly changing gradients, and fast passages. Motorsport fans can look forward to some top-end endurance racing in the Texas capital at the Colorado River. A total of twelve factory drivers contest the WEC and the TUSC for the Porsche team (919 Hybrid, LMP1), the Porsche Team Manthey (911 RSR, GTE-Pro) and Porsche North America (911 RSR, GTLM).
Porsche Team, Porsche 919 Hybrid
In the 31-strong WEC field at Austin, Porsche campaigns a pair of 919 Hybrids in the top LMP1 category (Le Mans Prototype class); the trio of Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AUS) crews the #17 vehicle, with Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) sharing driving duties in the number 18 car. The 919 serves as a racing research lab for future sports car technologies and is powered by a downsizing two-litre V4-cylinder turbocharged engine and an electric motor which is fed by two energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). Combined, the groundbreaking and unique power-train concept for WEC develops a system performance of around 1,000 hp. After clinching one-two at both the Le Mans 24 Hours and at the six-hour race on the Nürburgring, Porsche tackles the second half of the season as the leader of the manufacturers’ classification.
“The upcoming races at Austin, Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain are decisive for the title,” commented Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1. “Porsche has set its sights on the manufacturers’ crown, but the decision in the drivers’ championship will be just as exciting. With only 17 and 19 points separating us from the currently-leading Audi trio, both of our driver crews are within striking distance. Last year’s race on the COTA proved extremely tough for us. We hope that we’re now in a position to fight for victory there, but we’re not expecting the dominance we saw at the Nürburgring.”
Porsche Team Manthey, Porsche 911 RSR
The Porsche Manthey team brings two Porsche 911 RSR to Texas: Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Richard Lietz (Austria), the winners of the Nürburgring round, share driving duties in the number 91 Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Pro class, with their French teammates Frédéric Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet manning the nine-eleven with the starting number 92 in the same class. Richard Lietz leads the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers. Two customer teams take on the GTE-Am class running the 911 RSR: Dempsey Proton Racing with the American actor and race driver Patrick Dempsey as well as Patrick Long (USA) and Marco Seefried (DE), and Abu Dhabi Proton Racing with Christian Ried (DE) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE) as well as New Zealander Earl Bamber, who recently supported the squad at the Nürburgring.