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Tandy, Bamber Set for North American Focus in 2016

Tandy, Bamber set for full IMSA seasons in separate cars in 2016…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

Although both Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber had incredible 2015 seasons, neither of the fairly new Porsche factory aces had a realistic chance to go for a championship in a single series.

That changes for 2016, with Tandy and Bamber’s dual primary focuses occurring in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in separate Porsche 911 RSRs.

Tandy continues with Patrick Pilet, who captured last year’s GT Le Mans class title in the team’s No. 911 Porsche North America car.

Bamber will have a new full-season co-driver in Pilet’s French countryman, Fred Makowiecki, who replaces Joerg Bergmeister.

Both drivers missed the Long Beach and Monterey races last year, Long Beach in preparation for their two-race FIA World Endurance Championship cameo in the third Porsche 919 Hybrid and Monterey as it clashed with Spa-Francorchamps, where their first start in the 919 took place.

The continuation in separate cars for the CORE autosport-operated program, at least in North America, made sense given how well both drivers did in 2015.

“I mean in the U.S. it makes sense to keep Nick and Pilet together because you know they’re a great combination,” Bamber told Sportscar365. “To have Fred come over is a nice addition, and I know my engineer in the U.S. very well.

“We had a really good thing going at the end of the year, and we were quite competitive with the 911 car. We didn’t want to disturb that.”

Tandy agreed, and also hailed IMSA as one of his favorite series to compete in.

“I’m really looking forward to that, and racing in the U.S., it’s the best car-to-car racing in sports car racing, globally, at the moment,” Tandy told Sportscar365.

“And I’m really looking forward to getting back to the team there. We’ve been the championship winners (manufacturer’s championship) over two seasons.

“Working with Patrick, we really kind of gelled together from the middle part of last year. It got to the point where with him, you trust them so much they can do all the setup work in practice and get the car all good for the race.”

The downside for two of the three overall 24 Hours of Le Mans winners this year is that, provided their Porsche Team Manthey cars are granted entries in GTE-Pro, they are scheduled to be split in separate cars, and thus not have a chance to defend the title as a unit.

Bamber said he’d love to have the opportunity to win with Tandy at Le Mans again, but understood the nature of wanting to keep season-long lineups together as they’d be in IMSA’s Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.

Back Stateside though, Porsche will be in a transition year, with the current-spec 911 RSR into its third year of service up against a fleet of new cars from Chevrolet, Ford, BMW and Ferrari.

Bamber hinted that the upgrades Porsche will bring will more than keep them competitive within the category.

“Sure it’s going to be a difficult season because you have many manufacturers coming with full works programs,” Bamber said. “They want to really try and push and win, and we have a big target on our backs.

“We are two-time manufacturer champion in IMSA and GTLM, and the only manufacturer to win currently in the new IMSA championship.

“We have a big, big target on our backs. I think we rely on the fact that we know our car well. We have a very great team in CORE autosport in the US as well. We know all the tracks and everything. That’s going to be important for us to utilize that.

“Then obviously we’ve got the new cars coming. We have a slight update as well. I don’t think many people have seen it yet, but this is going to help us too.”

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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