Nick Tandy says he’s confident of a good result on his return to Porsche’s GT Le Mans program at Motul Petit Le Mans this weekend, two years after taking a historic overall win at Road Atlanta.
The Englishman, who has spent the year in Porsche’s LMP1 program in the FIA World Endurance Championship, makes his first GT start of the year at a track that he’s historically run well at.
In addition to his outright win in the rain-shortened race in 2015 with the factory GTLM squad, Tandy also took top class honors in 2013 with Team Falken Tire.
“I’d be happy with a class win because we’ve come here to win,” he told Sportscar365. “I was very keen to race this weekend because I treat Atlanta as one of my best racetracks and Petit as one of my best races.
“That’s shown historically and even in the years we haven’t won, we’ve always run well. I wanted to come here and win. It’s not been a very great season for me and I’m yet to win a race.
“I pushed Marco [Ujasi, Porsche GT factory director] and Frank [Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport] to see if I could come and join the team and it’s because I want to come here and be competitive.”
Despite not racing a GT car after making the switch from Porsche’s GTLM program to a full-time LMP1 entry this year, Tandy has found the return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship easy given his familiarity with the team.
Compared to fellow LMP1 driver Earl Bamber, who has 15 days of testing in the new-for-2017 mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR, Tandy hasn’t driven the car since working on its development program last year.
“The good thing is that we’re not going into a new team as that was one thing that took time when we went to the LMP1 program in 2015 for a couple of weekends,” he explained.
“Coming here for a weekend, we already know everybody so that takes a bit of stress out of that side of the weekend.
“Fortunately, we’ve had experience of it the other way. It was never a problem before going from the full season in the 911 RSR to jumping in the 919 Hybrid.
“Yes, it takes you four or five laps, but it’s not a day’s worth of testing. It’s not really a problem at all.”
Tandy, Bamber Eyeing Full-Time IMSA Return
This weekend’s one-off return to the WeatherTech Championship could be the start of a more regular presence in the U.S. next year, with Tandy and Bamber reportedly under consideration for a full-time GTLM seats.
Both drivers will be left without a drive once Porsche withdraws from LMP1 after next month’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
Current GTLM drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Laurens Vanthoor could make the move to Porsche’s GTE-Pro program in the WEC, opening up two spots in the team’s CORE autosport-run operation.
“I’ve really enjoyed my two years in the U.S. and if I had a choice I’d like to race in the U.S. but it’s not up to me,” Bamber told Sportscar365.
“Hopefully we can be in one of the top-level cars. Outside of the LMP1 project, the best racing in the world is in a GTLM or GTE-Pro car.”
Tandy says he would like to return to the U.S. next season but would also be open to other options elsewhere.
“I definitely don’t want to miss Daytona again, so that’s my number one goal for the moment,” he said. “What happens for the rest of the season hasn’t been clearly talked about yet.
“Do I miss racing in the States? Absolutely. Would I like to come back? Yes. Would I like to go and race in other classes in other parts of the world, absolutely.
“As long as it’s in a top-level Porsche next year, I’ll be very happy.”