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Bamber, Vanthoor Complete WeatherTech GTE-Pro Lineup

Bamber, Vanthoor join MacNeil in WeatherTech-Proton Porsche for 24H Le Mans…

Photo: Porsche

Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor have been named as Cooper MacNeil’s co-drivers in the WeatherTech Racing Porsche GTE-Pro squad for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in August.

The 2019 IMSA GT Le Mans champions and reigning TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa winners were announced on Thursday as drivers of the No. 79 Porsche 911 RSR-19, which is running in the top GTE class with technical support from Proton Competition.

Bamber and Vanthoor are set for their first Le Mans together, having driven different cars in each of their previous five participations.

Bamber won the race twice overall for Porsche’s LMP1 team in 2015 and 2017, while Vanthoor captured GTE-Pro honors in 2018 with Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen.

WeatherTech full-time driver MacNeil was already named on the provisional 62-car entry list.

“I am really excited to head back to Le Mans this year,” said Bamber. “After missing the event in 2020, I can’t wait to get back to one of my favorite tracks in the world.

“I am also looking forward to joining Cooper and Laurens for the event. I have followed Cooper for years in the IMSA Championship and to see him get his first overall GTLM victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring this year was awesome.

“I hope we can achieve similar things this year at Le Mans. Porsche has always been strong at Le Mans and with the support that Porsche AG brings I am sure we will have a strong package for the race.”

Vanthoor, who drove the 911 RSR-19 at Le Mans last year, added that he’s optimistic about an improved Porsche showing this time around after power steering and electrical issues impacted the manufacturer’s GTE-Pro entries in 2020.

Four Porsches are set to race in Pro this summer, with the privateer entries from WeatherTech Racing and HubAuto Racing joining the two factory FIA World Endurance Championship cars run by Manthey.

“I have a lot of experience driving with Earl over the years,” said Vanthoor.

“I haven’t teamed up with Cooper yet, but I’ve seen him race and have heard a lot of good things about him.

“With the 911 RSR, we had our first race with the new car there last year and we had some small new car type issues. I expect this year it will be very good based upon what we learned from 2020. The car has been really strong in the WEC this season.

“I think we have a good chance to do something really nice in the race. I am looking forward to working with Cooper, Earl, and the Proton Competition guys to hopefully get a trophy.”

MacNeil won the 12 Hours of Sebring in March with Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, while the American is also competing in the European Le Mans Series to prepare for the 24-hour race.

MacNeil’s ELMS co-drivers are Christian Ried and Gianmaria Bruni, but both are tied to full-time WEC roles for Le Mans with Proton’s GTE-Am squad and Porsche respectively. 

“I really like our lineup for Le Mans,” said MacNeil. “We have, what I would call, a mature Le Mans lineup. Between the three of us, we have 17 starts at Le Mans. That is a lot of miles and experience around that place.

“The WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR has been strong in IMSA with our win at Sebring as well as two good performances in the European Le Mans Series highlighted by a fourth-place two weeks ago at Paul Ricard.

“The Proton Competition guys know the track and race really well in France. I am looking forward to running my eighth Le Mans.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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