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Porsche Open to Repeating Sebring Two-Driver Strategy

Porsche’s Pascal Zurlinden says two-driver lineups would work at other eight-hour races…

Photo: Porsche

Porsche is open to running two-driver lineups in future FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro eight-hour races after trialing the tactic at Sebring last month.

Porsche was the only manufacturer not to run three drivers in both of its works cars for the 1000 Miles of Sebring WEC round, which was won by the German team’s No. 91 pairing of Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz.

Director of GT factory motorsports Pascal Zurlinden, who oversaw Porsche’s WEC and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship operations that weekend, told Sportscar365 that the two-driver strategy worked from a race-craft perspective.

“The only thing which was a bit limiting was that the race track was really hard on the drivers with all the bumps and so on,” he said.

“If it wasn’t a double-event, we would probably have a third driver, but we would need to make sure we have the right third driver.

“As we are fighting for the world championship, we wanted to keep the world championship chances in the hands of the guys fighting for it. And it worked out, so two drivers was not an issue at all.”

When asked if Porsche would consider using two drivers again for the new eight-hour race in Bahrain next season, Zurlinden said “definitely”.

“I haven’t checked the schedule, but we will probably be again racing into the night [in Bahrain] and I wouldn’t see an issue to run with two drivers,” he said.

Zurlinden added that the eight-hour format didn’t drastically alter the way in which the GTE-Pro crews ran their races, while the GTE-Am class teams were forced to adjust their approach.

“For the Pro teams it didn’t change a lot, but for the Am teams there were some differences when the minimum drive time was not two full stints,” said Zurlinden.

“Some Am teams changed drivers not at full stints. So you would get some bronze drivers running a little less or exactly the minimum driving time. The strategy difference was more on the side of the GTE-Am teams.”

On the GTE-Pro side, Zurlinden explained that the extra tire allocations for Sebring enabled Porsche to single-stint its drivers and make regular tire changes.

GTE-Pro teams had 13 tire sets available to them for qualifying and the race, however this amount was originally designed for when Sebring was planned as a 1500-mile contest.

Corvette Racing was the only team to consistently perform double stints, with Jan Magnussen telling Sportscar365 that it enabled the drivers – who were also taking part in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – to manage their rest schedule.

“In Pro, one difference was that we had more tires than usual [double the typical six-hour event allocation] so the racing was closer than usual,” said Zurlinden.

“But this is also due to the fact that you have more tires so you only had to do one double stint.

“What changed [at Sebring] is that we could single-stint the drivers, meaning that we could change tires every pit stop.

“We did not have any issues. With two drivers it was easy, because we had enough tires to single stint.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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