Nick Tandy is eager to embark on his first full season behind the wheel of an LMP1 car, following Saturday’s announcement that he will graduate to the top class with Porsche in 2017.
The Brit joins Earl Bamber and Andre Lotterer in the list of new recruits for Porsche’s LMP1 program next season, with the German manufacturer undertaking a large-scale driver reshuffle for its two-car entry at the top of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
As part of Porsche’s Le Mans-winning lineup in 2015, alongside Bamber and Nico Hülkenberg in the third car, Tandy is excited to return to prototypes full-time.
“The category and the championship is the pinnacle of our sport and the fastest cars of our sport,” he told Sportscar365.
“It’s a new challenge for me and obviously since I got involved in the program, had such a good time and enjoyed it so much with what happened at Le Mans, of course it’s something I wanted to get involved with.
“I’m very happy about competing in a full-time championship with the team next year.
“I was grateful, for a start, that I had the chance to go to Le Mans in a car capable of winning. If the chance never came around to drive the car again, for whatever reason, I’d still be grateful that I had that chance in the first place.”
The 32-year-old is certainly looking forward to the opportunity to return to the front of the WEC field and fight for a second Le Mans victory, but admits that simply being signed to Porsche is exciting enough.
“Obviously, everyone wants to win the biggest events in their sport, and the World Championship is one of those,” he said.
“Did I want to come back to the team? Yes, of course. I had a contract with Porsche, and that was the main thing, that I had a job in the sport, with one of the best teams and manufacturers in the game.
“I was quite happy, and still am happy, to do whatever they asked me to, whether that’s get involved with the new Cup car and test and develop that, or get in the top prototype and try and win the biggest race in the world.”
Tandy will join long-time ex-Audi LMP1 ace Lotterer and reigning world champion Neel Jani in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid next year, and has high praise for his new teammates.
“They’re two of the best sports car drivers in the world, along with the other three in the other car,” he said. “It will be the first time that I’ve worked with Andre, obviously. I’ve been teammates with Neel, so I know him quite well.
“But we’ve got the winter testing period and the stuff that we do at the factory to get to know each other and work out what each of us likes with the car and how we can best work together for the benefit of the team.
“It’s a new challenge with new people. It’s something different and it’s an exciting prospect.”
As for his aims next year, Tandy has his sights on taking as many race wins as possible, with the bar already set high as Porsche looks for its third consecutive World Championship and Le Mans win.
He’s also pleased to return to racing on home soil, with the season starting with the Six Hours of Silverstone in April.
“The main focus will be to try and win every race that we start,” Tandy said. “I’m joining a double world championship-winning team, so naturally the aim is to carry that on.
“It’s endurance racing, and there’s strong competition, so it’s not going to be possible to win everything. But the aim is to win Le Mans and end up with the championship, and start off with my home race at Silverstone.
“That’s another big plus point for me personally, because I wasn’t involved in racing in the UK since the first race in WEC in 2015, so it’s been a long time since I’ve raced in front of my home crowd.”
In recent years, Tandy’s efforts with Porsche have primarily been focused on its GT Le Mans program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and admits he will miss racing in the U.S., where he has taken several major wins in the Porsche 911 RSR over the past three years.
“I am going to miss it, and I kind of miss it already,” he said. “I was part of the team when it started, and I was part of the development in building that team to the dominant championship season that we had last year, and what it’s going to become last year.
“I will miss it. I’ll miss the people, I’ll miss the racing, I’ll miss the other competitors that we’ve been racing in the U.S. for the past three years.
“I think when Daytona comes around, and it starts, I’ll probably miss it even more, but at the same time I’ve got a new job to focus on so it’s not too bad.”
Even though there are only likely to be four manufacturer entries in LMP1 next year, Tandy is still confident that Porsche and Toyota can put on a good show.
“It’s obviously a shame for the spectacle and the diversity of the class that Audi will be missing, but all we can do is try and beat the competition that’s out there,” he said.
“Toyota has shown this year that they will come back stronger again next year, and I’m sure it will be even closer over the full course of the season, and over all the types of tracks that we go to, than it was this year.
“Yes, we’ve lost some competition is numbers, but I think the actual closeness of the racing will be even tighter.”