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Team Project 1 Planning Third Car for 24H Le Mans

Project 1 team manager on German squad’s WEC expansion, as well as managing ELMS duties…

Photo: MPS Agency

Team Project 1 has added a third Porsche 911 RSR to its stable as it expands to a two-car operation for the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season and a planned three-car assault at next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The reigning GTE-Am title-winning squad will be midway through its debut European Le Mans Series campaign when the new WEC season starts at Silverstone on Sep. 1.

With the ELMS schedule continuing through to late October, Project 1 has needed to acquire a third chassis to ensure both of its GTE-based programs can work.

In WEC, Egidio Perfetti will return to the No. 56 car with new co-drivers in David Heinemeier Hansson and Matteo Cairoli, while the new No. 57 entry will be piloted by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga.

Team manager Axel Funke told Sportscar365 that Project 1 will “completely divide” its global and European programs, despite operating with the same machinery across the board.

“We used our ELMS car at Barcelona for the Prologue, because we haven’t got our third car yet,” he said.

“We are waiting for the third car to come, so one lot of equipment and cars will be WEC only and the other car will be ELMS only.

“We’ll then do whatever we need to do over the winter, and then obviously we will need it for the third car at Le Mans.”

Project 1 has an automatic invitation for the 2020 edition of Le Mans because it won this year’s race following the exclusion of the Keating Motorsports Ford GT.

“If we want to make that happen, we are eligible to do so, and that is what we will do,” said Funke, in reference to a third Porsche for the WEC season-closer.

“We have a use for the third car. We have already had the first [driver] interests for doing Le Mans.

“We are going to do it well with the three cars. We are not going to hop in the car with three Bronze drivers: we want to create a reasonably strong lineup again.”

Funke said the team has increased in size following the addition of a second full-season WEC car.

“We expanded the amount of people working permanently in the workshop because we need to prepare two cars,” he explained.

“Then we need to keep them busy over the winter, because we have the [flyaway] races there in WEC, and the rest of the season we fill up with weekend warriors.

“The amount of people that we bring to the track is always dictated by the pit stops. If we need eight people to run a pit stop, for example, then we need at least six people on the mechanics’ side to help run the system.

“In the end, we completely divide WEC and ELMS. Equipment-wise, it’s not so big of a problem.”

As reported last month, Project 1 is not planning to contest the ELMS race at Silverstone, which takes place on the same weekend as support for the WEC season-opener.

“Apart from Silverstone, this is the plan [to see out the rest of the ELMS season],” said Funke.

“To do two cars that weekend, it’s enough for us. [If] we have had a third car in the second paddock at Silverstone, it would just be too much.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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