There will be two familiar, but new faces behind the wheel of the Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, with Porsche factory driver Patrick Long and David Heinemeier Hansson joining the GTE-Am class entry.
Long and Heinemeier Hansson will team up with Bronze-rated driver Khaled Al Qubaisi, who contested the entire season in the No. 88 Porsche this year with a number of co-drivers.
It will mark a return to the GTE-Am class for 2014 GTE-Am World Champion Heinemeier Hansson, who spent this past season in LMP2 with Tequila Patron ESM, while making his debut in a rear-engined Porsche GTE car.
The Dane got his first laps in a Manthey-run Porsche 911 RSR during last month’s WEC Rookie Test in Bahrain, an opportunity arranged by American works driver Long, who had served as Heinemeier Hansson’s coach in single-make Porsche racing in the U.S.
“I couldn’t be more pleased about contending WEC and Le Mans with Porsche and Proton,” Heinemeier Hansson told Sportscar365. “I got my start in racing with GT4-like Caymans, then GT3 Cup Challenge, and finally GTC in ALMS.
“Not only that, my driving instructor when I went to the Cup Challenge was Patrick Long, all the way back in 2010! All the stars have aligned for a return to the roots.
“I’m already giddy about the thought of driving a 911 at Le Mans. I drive a Carrera S every day to take my son to kindergarten, and now I’ll have the chance to pilot that very same car down the Mulsanne straight. How cool is that?
“It just seems like the right time as well. The current RSR just cleaned up in GTE-Pro, winning both Le Mans and the World Championship. The new Michelin tire really turned the game around.
“So knowing we’ll be driving that exact same spec of car and tire that just beat Aston Martin, Corvette, and Ferrari in GTE-Pro feels very comforting indeed, especially given the depth of experience Proton brings to the table as well as both Patrick Long and Khaled Al Qubaisi. This is no rookie run.”
Long moves over from the Proton-run No. 77 Dempsey entry, having scored a class win alongside Patrick Dempsey and Marco Seefried this year.
The 34-year-old American will combine a full season of Pirelli World Challenge with EFFORT Racing to his slate of racing in 2016.
“I’m excited to continue with what we built on for a lot of years,” Long told Sportscar365. “I’ve driven for Christian [Ried] on and off since 2010 and it’s great to just continue the momentum. I think the class is in a great place.
“The car was really competitive this year. We had a pole, two podiums and a win at Fuji. It was a great season and it would have been tough to close the chapter completely, so this is a great alternative to continue moving forward in the WEC.
“Khaled and David are both two guys that I know really well. So as a driver, there’s not much more than I can ask for. I’m ready to get down to business and get after it.”
The Long/Heinemeier Hansson/Al Qubaisi Porsche joins the previously announced Proton GTE-Pro entry for reigning class champion Richard Lietz and fellow factory driver Michael Christensen.
A second full-season Proton GTE-Am entry is also expected, with a driver lineup that’s in the process of being finalized.