With the GT manufacturers’ title on the line in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, many of Porsche’s factory FIA World Endurance Championship drivers have been called in as reinforcement for this weekend’s Lone Star Le Mans. (En Français)
Porsche Team Manthey drivers Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki will pull double-duty between the TUDOR Championship and FIA WEC races at Circuit of The Americas, which includes the two Frenchmen teamed up in a third Porsche North America entry for Saturday’s two-hour and 45-minute race.
The German manufacturer currently holds a two-point lead in the TUDOR Championship title race over Chevrolet, with SRT and BMW within four points of Porsche, meaning every point counts heading into the penultimate race of the season.
“The goal is to help Porsche win the championship,” Makowiecki told Endurance-Info. “This would be a great achievement for its first year in the championship.
Makowiecki, who makes his TUDOR Championship debut, is looking forward to the challenge of jumping between cars.
While both are GTE-spec Porsche 911 RSRs, the two championships feature slightly different technical and sporting regulations, including recent IMSA-imposed Balance of Performance adjustments such as a larger rear wing and splitter on the CORE autosport-run machines.
“We will run with the same car, so it will not be too disruptive,” he said. “Still, the rules are different. On one side the tires are heated, the other not. But I’m eager to do battle with Patrick [Pilet]. We will make every effort to do well.”
COTA will mark the first race of a reshuffle in Porsche’s FIA WEC driver pairings as well, with Pilet having moved over to the No. 92 entry to pair with Makowiecki for the remainder of the season and Richard Lietz having been brought into the No. 91 car with Bergmeister.
“Porsche wants to do things right,” Makowiecki said. “There will be two French drivers in the same car in both championships. It’s a strategic choice of Porsche and I’m very happy. It will also be easier to communicate between the two of us!”
The GT racing standout, who is also competing full-time in Super GT, was recently rewarded with a test in Porsche’s 919 Hybrid at Magny-Cours alongside Porsche North America’s Michael Christensen.
It marked Makowiecki’s second time at the wheel of a factory prototype, having tested a Peugeot 908 in late 2011 prior to the French manufacturer’s shock withdrawal from LMP1 competition.
“It was a real surprise,” he said about the opportunity to test the Porsche 919 Hybrid. “We had to learn the operation of the car, with all of the procedures. The technical team advised me, as well as Marc Lieb.
“For me, the test was good. I was pleasantly surprised by the visibility in the cockpit. The driving position is different from the Peugeot 908.
“The goal was to get as much experience. There were no obligations. The message was clear for Michael and me: ‘treat yourself’.'”
While fully focused on task at hand in the GT ranks, Makowiecki hasn’t hidden his ambitions of perhaps one day stepping up to the premier prototype ranks.
“Porsche puts a lot of energy into its FIA WEC programs, both in GT and LMP1,” he said. “While they are satisfied with their six drivers in place , it was still a great sign of confidence [for the future].”