Newly crowned FIA World Endurance Champions Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb will not return to Porsche’s LMP1 program next year, the German manufacturer confirmed on Friday.
Both drivers, who combined with Neel Jani to win this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2016 Drivers’ World Championship, will remain under contract at Porsche, with Lieb in a customer racing role and Dumas in to-be-announced position.
The news comes after a dismal second half of the WEC season for the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, which failed to score a podium finish since its triumph in the French endurance classic, yet still claimed the world title.
Lieb and Dumas’ seats in the factory LMP1 squad were under threat as early as September, with indications that one or both drivers could be replaced by 2015 Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, who were first on the team’s list of drivers, as first revealed by Sportscar365.
With Mark Webber having since retired from driving, it now means Porsche has three full-season seats to fill for 2017.
“The LMP1 program has benefitted immensely from Marc’s and Romain’s experience, especially during the team’s build-up phase and in Le Mans,” said Porsche LMP1 Vice President Fritz Enzinger.
“Together we went through some highs and lows in recent years. I am very pleased that both true racers can conclude this part of their Porsche career as Le Mans winners and world champions.
“I thank Marc and Romain from the depth of my heart for their high performance driving, their strong commitment and their loyalty.”
Lieb, who holds an engineering degree, will remain on board with the manufacturer in an international customer racing capacity back in the GT ranks, where he first became a Porsche factory driver at the age of 20.
“I always imagined that the LMP1 program would be my last seat as a works driver,” Lieb said. “I managed to set the course early for my future career outside the cockpit at Porsche. I’m thankful for all the chances and possibilities I got at Porsche for so many years.”
Dumas, meanwhile, will likely also be reassigned to GT racing, having earned multiple titles in 911 machinery prior to to his and Lieb’s promotions to the LMP1 effort in 2014.
“Winning Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche was a dream come true and I am proud of what we achieved all together since many years. I am a man of challenges and there will be a new one soon,” Dumas said.
While Porsche has yet to formally announce their replacements in LMP1, it’s understood that both Tandy and Audi refugee Andre Lotterer will take two of the three vacant seats, and Bamber likely to complete the heavily revised lineup for the 2017 WEC season.
Porsche is expected to finalize its driver lineups for both LMP1 and GT factory programs at its end-of-year awards night on Dec. 3 in Germany.