Porsche’s factory involvement in the GTE-Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship could come to an end following this season, with multiple reports linking to the demise of the Porsche Team Manthey program.
German publication Motorsport-Total reports that it’s received confirmation that the manufacturer will pull the plug on its two-car factory Porsche 911 RSR program in the WEC, amid the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal crisis, with team principal Olaf Manthey expected to retire from motorsports due to the group’s decision.
Porsche owns a 51 percent stake in the Manthey squad, purchased in 2013 from the German sports car racing legend.
Manthey told Sportscar365 in Shanghai last weekend that a decision on the future of its WEC program has not been made, with an announcement of Porsche’s 2016 programs due in mid-December.
Porsche GT Motorsport boss Dr. Frank-Steffan Walliser, who has not attended the last two WEC races, previously told Sportscar365 that a decision on its WEC GTE-Pro program would be made internally by the end of October.
While Porsche will continue its factory GT Le Mans class effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, its withdrawal from WEC competition would leave a significant gap in its global GT racing program.
Proton Competition team principal Christian Reid has ruled out his team making the step up to GTE-Pro in 2016, due to costs, leaving his two privately run GTE-Am entries as potentially the only Porsche 911 RSRs in WEC next year.
There had been prospects of a four-manufacturer battle in the GTE-Pro class, with Ford joining the ranks with the Multimatic-run Ford GTs.
Porsche’s alleged pullout from WEC competition may only be for one year, as Sportscar365 understands that an all-new Porsche GTE car is currently under development for 2017, with track testing set to begin in the spring.
Porsche heads into the 2015 WEC season finale in Bahrain with Richard Lietz leading the GT Drivers’ Championship and only trailing Ferrari by four points in the manufacturers’ title.