Between testing duties with Porsche’s new 919 Hybrid and racing a factory Porsche 911 RSR in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring, it’s already been a busy start to the season for Nick Tandy, who is now set to add a third different car to the mix this week at Paul Ricard.
The Porsche factory driver will get his first taste of a LMP2 car during Friday and Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test, ahead of a six-race campaign in KCMG’s new Oreca 05 Nissan.
For Tandy, who has been confirmed in Porsche’s third LMP1 entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Six Hours of Spa, gaining the extra prototype experience, both prior to and following his foray in the 919 Hybrid, will pay dividends as he progresses in his career with the German manufacturer.
“It’s about broadening your experiences as a driver,” Tandy told Sportscar365. “I think it’s good for me to be part of the WEC program and experience everything that goes into a race program ahead of when we go to Spa and Le Mans with the P1 team. Of course I’ve got another five races after that with KCMG.”
The 30-year-old Englishman, who only became a Porsche factory driver in 2013, has quickly progressed through the GT endurance ranks, winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Porsche North America last year and also taking part in select FIA WEC races for the Manthey squad.
He’s now been placed with the Hong Kong-backed KCMG outfit, teaming with fellow Brits Richard Bradley and Matt Howson, who finished runner-up in the LMP2 championship in 2014 with three class wins in the last five races.
“We basically contacted [KCMG] first to see if there could be an opening,” Tandy said. “I think it will be a strong package. I think we’ll be going for it. They’re a good team and their base for the WEC program is in Germany, close to Porsche.
“Between the TUDOR Championship and WEC, I get to race in the two biggest sports car series in the world. It should be an amazing year.”
While next month’s season-opening Six Hours of Silverstone will mark Tandy’s LMP2 debut race, all of his attention after that will shift to his big opportunity in LMP1, joining fellow Porsche GT graduate Earl Bamber and Formula One ace Nico Hulkenberg in the No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
Tandy is coming off a comprehensive five-day test with the car at Motorland Aragon earlier this month, which saw further development with the 2015-spec machine but more importantly gave him crucial seat time ahead of his two-race campaign.
“There is a lot of new things,” he said. “To be honest, we’ve been quite lucky as we’ve come into the program after a year’s worth of testing, racing and development.
“A lot of the early issues are out the of the way before we even came into the car, so we can fully concentrate on driving the car.
“Since the start of the year with the 2015 car, it’s been pretty smooth and we can work on performance stuff rather than running around, reliability wise. It’s a good time to come into the program.”
With Porsche placing Tandy with KCMG for the majority of the FIA WEC season, and five additional races post-Le Mans, it shows the manufacturer’s long-term commitment to further developing his prototype racecraft.
It also adds up to a jet-setting 2015 season for the former Supercup ace, who is also slated to drive in many of the TUDOR Championship races this year with the CORE autosport-run works GT Le Mans program.
The busy schedule doesn’t faze Porsche’s multi-faceted talent, though. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“For me, that’s one of the best things about it,” Tandy said. “When I got my first factory contract with Porsche a couple of years back, that was my racing life made. That was the ultimate goal.
“But to be considered by all the teams that everything Porsche does shows how much faith they’ve got in me. It’s really what I’m most proud of.
“I get to race all the factory stuff in the factory cars. I’m certainly glad I pushed for it back in 2012 and asked the question at the end of last year when there was talk of an extra car for Le Mans.”