Porsche has withdrawn two of its four factory GTE-Pro entries from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans due to the current financial and logistical uncertainties amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Confirmed by the German manufacturer on Friday, Porsche will not bring its two CORE autosport-run cars to the French endurance classic, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 19-20.
It will result in only two works entries, fielded by the Manthey-operated FIA World Endurance Championship squad.
It’s understood that Porsche Motorsport factory director Pascal Zurlinden informed the ACO of the decision on Wednesday, with a Porsche spokesperson confirming the development to Sportscar365.
“It was not an easy decision for all the boys to cut this but at Porsche we are struggling with things, like every car company around the world, so we had to cut a little bit and respect the economic situation, which is the same for all of us,” the spokesperson said.
Full-season WEC drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz (No. 91) and defending GTE world champions Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen (No. 92) have been confirmed in the reduced two-car effort, with Fred Makowieki and Laurens Vanthoor expected to remain as third drivers, although not yet confirmed.
The withdrawals leave Porsche factory or Young Professionals Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet, Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Julien Andlauer currently without rides.
The Porsche spokesperson indicated the decision was partially also made due to the uncertainty in logistics for an American team to contest this year’s race.
While travel from the U.S. to Europe is not prohibited, France is currently enforcing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all people arriving or returning to the country.
A similar mandate is in place for America, which could impact CORE’s ability to operate its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program if it had utilized its U.S.-based crew in France.
The two withdrawals are expected to promote both ByKolles Racing and IDEC Sport into the race, although it has yet to be confirmed from the ACO.