While not having a factory presence in the full season this year, Porsche has reaffirmed plans to return to the GTE-Pro class in the FIA World Endurance Championship next year with its works team.
Speaking to Sportscar365 at last weekend’s season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone, Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser said it’s their intention to have two factory Manthey-run cars back in the championship in 2017.
“That’s the idea,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “It’s not finally confirmed. We have our budget process and things like that but it [should be] fine.”
The factory program would be with Porsche’s new 911-based GTE contender, which is understood to have already begun on-track testing.
Walliser wouldn’t confirm the fact that it’s testing but said he’s been pleased with the rate of its development.
“All of the experience in making GT cars and all of the experience in making the RSR and developing it over the years has really all come together with this car,” he said.
“After a lot of concepts and discussions, we could quickly go out. I’m happy with the results.”
The new 911, which is understood to feature revised engine and gearbox placements for improved weight distribution, is also believed to again be powered by a derivative of the current four-liter flat-six normally aspirated engine.
Walliser said both normally aspirated and turbo engines were evaluated and a decision was made at the last possible moment in the development timeline.
“For sure with every new car, you need to have a deep look at the regulations to make the right decisions,” he said.
“I can’t tell you which way we went but I can tell you it was a long and hard discussion. A lot of things were discussed, like what you have to evaluate and to understand how the car works.”
It’s likely that IMSA and the ACO’s new Balance of Performance process, which matches the power curves of both normally aspirated and turbo engines through variable boost pressures, could have influenced Porsche’s likely decision to remain with a normally aspirated engine.
Official details on the yet-to-be-named GTE car are expected to be revealed by mid-season, Walliser said.
He also indicated that its factory effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is also likely to continue, despite it currently being in the final year of its current three-year program.
“We can’t take a decision too early… but it looks, in general, good,” Walliser said. “At the moment there’s no reason against it. It’s by no way a confirmation. But the team is very good.”
Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet claimed a dramatic GT Le Mans class victory in last weekend’s round at Long Beach in the CORE autosport-run Porsche effort.