After seven seasons of racing nearly exclusively in North America, Patrick Dempsey will take on a new challenge next year, as the Hollywood actor/racer is set for a full-season effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Dempsey and American Porsche factory pilot Patrick Long will be among the drivers in a Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR that will compete in the GTE-Am class.
The announcement was made Wednesday at the LA Auto Show.
“I’m already looking forward to 2015 and I’m proud to be able to contest the entire WEC as well as Le Mans with a Porsche,” Dempsey said.
“Porsche’s experience in long distance racing is invaluable. Porsche was winning sports car races before I was even born.
“As a childhood fan of Porsche, I grew up with their successes at Le Mans, Daytona and the Targa Florio. There are moments when I simply cannot believe that I am now a member of this great team.”
Dempsey, Long and Joe Foster took part in the last two editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the German-run Proton squad, comprising of the only all-American driver lineup in the race both years.
It’s understood longtime business partner Foster has elected to stand down from joining Dempsey and Long in the FIA WEC, with the team yet to announce its third, Silver-rated driver.
The U.S.-based team laid off its staff last month, with no season-long TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program expected to be operated under the Dempsey Racing banner next year.
Instead, Dempsey is likely to contest a select number of TUDOR Championship rounds, including the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring with Wright Motorsports, which had joined forces with Dempsey Racing midseason.
With Long jumping into a full-season FIA WEC seat, it’s unclear if the Californian will also return to the TUDOR Championship with the factory Porsche North America squad.
The only date clash between the two series occurs on the weekend of May 1-3, with the FIA WEC at Spa-Francorchamps and TUDOR Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“Customer sport enjoys a high priority at Porsche,” said Porsche Head of Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “For this reason we’re pleased to support Patrick Dempsey and the Dempsey Proton Racing team by providing one of our most successful and experienced works driver.”
The FIA WEC has welcomed Dempsey with open arms.
“To see Patrick Dempsey alongside another excellent American driver, Patrick Long, in a GTE Am Porsche in the FIA WEC will be a dream come true for USA endurance racing fans,” said FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu. “The WEC paddock is very happy to hear this excellent news.”