Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Joerg Bergmeister have joined KCMG’s lineup for this weekend’s Nürburgring 24 following Porsche’s decision to quarantine its drivers and staff from the 24 Hours of Le Mans due to COVID-19 concerns.
The trio will join reigning Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli champion Dennis Olsen in the No. 18 Porsche 911 GT3 R for the German endurance classic.
Olsen will now share driving duties between two cars, having also been confirmed in the team’s No. 19 Porsche alongside the unchanged lineup of Alexandre Imperatori, Josh Burdon and Edoardo Liberati.
The change comes after nine Porsche factory drivers, including Romain Dumas, Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz — who were due to drive the No. 18 KCMG Porsche — had been ruled out of the race due to several positive COVID-19 tests within the team at Le Mans.
Bamber was due to contest this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mid-Ohio, although his three Porsche GT Team teammates were also in Le Mans and are understood to also be part of the quarantine.
An official statement from Porsche regarding its IMSA program for this weekend is expected later today.
Falken Opts Not to Replace Factory Drivers
Falken Motorsports, which has also been affected by Porsche’s precautionary measures, will split its two cars between six drivers instead of the previously planned eight, meanwhile.
Both Thomas Preining and Matteo Cairoli, who were in Le Mans last weekend, will not be replaced, with Sven Mueller and Klaus Bachler now listed in both of the team’s entries.
Christian Engelhart and Dirk Werner will also share driving duties of the No. 33 Porsche, with Peter Dumbreck and and Martin Ragginger completing the lineup in the No. 44 car.
“We are very sorry for Thomas and Matteo, but we are one hundred percent behind Porsche’s decision,” said Falken motorsports chief Stefanie Olbertz. “The well-being and health of all employees is our top priority.
“Our remaining six drivers are a well-rehearsed team and are familiar with the tires and the two Porsche 911 GT3 R. We have therefore decided not to replace them.”
No word has been given to lineup changes of Frikadelli Racing, which was another one of the six Porsche customer entries impacted.