Patrick Lindsey believes Team Project 1 co-driver Joerg Bergmeister’s experience has facilitated the outfit’s transition to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The German squad is graduating to the WEC GTE-Am class this year, with Lindsey and Bergmeister joining Egidio Perfetti behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 RSR, as one of the first customers of the mid-engined contender.
Lindsey, who is also making his WEC debut, says the team has benefited immensely from Bergmeister’s long-standing factory ties.
The 42-year-old joined the German manufacturer in 2002 and has since represented its various works and customer programs in Europe and North America, the latter featuring regular appearances with Lindsey at Park Place Motorsports.
“It’s funny, Joerg is so transient within Porsche,” Lindsey told Sportscar365. “He’s in one program then he’s in another so he knows everybody in Porsche at this point.
“He has a relationship with the team from past racing, so for him it’s really easy. Plus, he has years of knowledge from working with the factory program.
“The team has been really receptive to his insight and suggestions.”
Project 1 confirmed its purchase of GTE-spec Porsche in November to supplement its existing Carrera Cup Germany and Supercup programs.
Despite being an established name on the various Porsche single-make circuits, the team has yet to test its mettle against cars from other manufacturers on the world stage.
Lindsey believes the fact Project 1 has been a customer of the German marque for the last 25 years is facilitating that step up ahead of the ‘Super Season’.
“For this team coming from Supercup to an RSR, that’s a big jump,” he said. “They’ve gone and sought out a lot of talented people and Porsche has helped with that process as well.
“It helps with the communication because it’s not like Porsche is helping us technically with people they’ve never talked to before; it’s people they already know.
“Early discussions all the way up to [head of Porsche GT] Frank-Steffen Walliser about the program and what it could look like, have been a constant, dynamic conversation.”
For Lindsey, the 2018-19 season presents his own personal set of firsts.
Having spent almost all his career in North America, the prospect of racing at five new tracks, including Circuit de la Sarthe, opens a new window to learning.
The 35-year-old Californian believes an intense preparation regime will be key to putting in consistent performances across the WEC campaign.
“I haven’t seen most of the tracks except for Sebring, so it’s going to be a lot about preparation,” he said. “In the IMSA WeatherTech series, if I don’t jump on the sim before I go somewhere it’s not a big deal because I’ve been there.
“But with this, if I don’t prep on the sim I’m going to screw the team significantly by being off pace and taking more time to get up to speed.
“That’s why I wanted to do it. If it’s not something new and exciting, you can get stuck in a rut. That’s not to say I don’t love WeatherTech – it’s just fun to broaden horizons.”
Despite his lack of WEC experience and Project 1’s unfamiliarity with the GTE package, Lindsey still expects to be competitive against the more established class outfits.
“The goal going in from the very first meeting was to get a competitive program, and to not make any mistakes or fail on the execution part anywhere,” he said.
“We need to go and execute whatever our strategy or game plan is. For me, as a driver, that means maybe not showing peak performance, but not making any mistakes and being a good team-mate.”
“The GT3 R [he races in IMSA] is a beautiful car, but the RSR is an absolute beast.”
Lindsey, Bergmeister to Skip Petit Le Mans
Lindsey has also confirmed that he and Bergmeister will miss the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans in order to represent Project 1 at the Six Hours of Fuji.
While expecting to return for his fifth consecutive Petit Le Mans with Park Place Motorsports, the WEC’s decision to move its Fuji round back a week has forced him to change plans.
“I’m definitely committed to the WEC program,” said Lindsey. “It would have been great if we could have done both. For Park Place, the program will be at Petit and we’re looking at options to figure all that out. I think we’re looking pretty good there.”
Lindsey’s IMSA replacement has not yet been announced, although he confirmed Tim Pappas will feature alongside two other drivers.
“Porsche is receptive to helping us out with driver availability there, so I think we’ll see what our lineup looks like,” he said.
John Dagys contributed to this report