Porsche has confirmed plans to enter four factory GTE-Pro cars in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will include the race debut for its CORE autosport-run operation.
As revealed by Sportscar365 last month, the German manufacturer had been considering an increased effort for the French endurance classic, amid the company’s increased focus on GT racing following its exit from LMP1 competition at the end of this year.
It will result in two mid-engined Porsche 911 RSRs from its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program joining the Manthey-run FIA World Endurance Championship entries.
The two CORE-run cars are subject to approval by the ACO Selection Committee.
Newly named WEC pairing Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz will be joined by Fred Makowiecki in the No. 91 Porsche, with Laurens Vanthoor teaming with full-season pilots Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in the No. 92 entry.
The No. 93 car is set to feature Porsche’s full-season IMSA trio of Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, with Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Sven Mueller expected to share driving duties of the No. 94 Porsche.
With Bamber, Bernhard, Dumas and Tandy, a total of four overall Le Mans winners would be represented in the lineup.
It will mark Porsche’s largest concentrated single-class factory program at Le Mans in recent history.
Bruni Returns to WEC in Revised Lineup
As expected, Gianmaria Bruni will make his return to the WEC full-time, having been confirmed in the No. 91 Porsche alongside Lietz.
The Italian driver joined Porsche mid-year in the WeatherTech Championship, following an early end to his contract with Ferrari, which prevented him from competing in WEC this year.
Bruni and Vanthoor combined for two podium finishes in 2017, along with a GT Le Mans class pole by Bruni at Lime Rock.
Christensen and Estre will continue to share wheel of the No. 92 Porsche for the WEC’s new ‘Super Season’ which will encompass both the 2018 and 2019 races at Le Mans.
Seven Customer 911 RSRs Confirmed
Porsche, meanwhile, has confirmed it has sold a seventh customer 911 RSR, expanding on its original commitment of six cars for next year.
Longtime Porsche single-make entrant Project 1 announced last month it has acquired one of the cars, which is expected to be run in the WEC.
Proton Competition has ordered four 2017-spec cars, with Gulf Racing confirming one and an additional car to a yet-to-be-announced team, believed to be Asian based.
The customer efforts will be run in the WEC and European Le Mans Series, with none of the cars slated for the WeatherTech Championship.