While Porsche Team Manthey looks set to not defend its world title, at least one GTE-Pro class Porsche 911 RSR is expected to be on the grid next year in the FIA World Endurance Championship to help fill the void left by the factory’s sabbatical.
Multiple industry sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that Proton Competition is preparing a step up to GTE-Pro, with what’s understood to be a factory-supported entry with a pair of Porsche works drivers.
The effort would be in addition to at least one GTE-Am entry for the German squad, which campaigned a pair of Porsche 911 RSRs this year in the class under the Abu Dhabi and Dempsey Proton Racing banners.
While team boss Christian Ried ruled out a move to GTE-Pro earlier this month to Sportscar365, it’s understood increasing pressure from the German manufacturer to have a presence in the top GT class, amid Ford’s arrival into the championship, has influenced the decision.
Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, did not confirm such plans although admitted they have been exploring options of remaining in GTE-Pro, when asked about Porsche’s future in the class earlier this month in Bahrain.
“We’re working on different options we have,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “Obviously WEC is a perfect platform. It’s a high profile racing series and we understand also that we belong to the series. We have to consider our overall situation.”
Proton are no strangers to success in the Pro ranks, having previously run a factory supported Porsche for Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz in the WEC in 2012, and before then, in both the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series.
The planned entry is believed to only be for one year, as Porsche’s factory program is expected to restart in 2017 with the debut of its all-new 911 RSR.