Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser says its decision to enter the Intercontinental GT Challenge has been made to strengthen its customer GT3 efforts worldwide.
The German manufacturer, which only recently formally committed to the full IGTC season, is set to lend factory assistance to local teams in each of the four rounds this year, supporting Stephane Ratel’s vision for the emerging SRO Motorsports Group-organized series.
Australian GT squad Walkinshaw operated a works-backed Porsche in the season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February for Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Earl Bamber, with Vanthoor and Estre set to be joined by Michael Christensen in a Team75 Bernhard-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R for this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Local teams from the U.S. and Asia, meanwhile, will represent Porsche in the final two rounds of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Sepang, respectively.
“It’s a decision for the customers and we have teams that will come,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “There is an interest for these races.
“With the positive impact from getting the entry for Spa, we can finally now communicate and we have good drivers there with a highly-motivated team.”
While having kicked off its campaign in last year’s Sepang 12 Hours with Manthey, Walliser said there are no plans to utilize the factory team in future IGTC races.
He indicated that Wright Motorsports, one of Porsche’s leading teams in Pirelli World Challenge, would be the “easiest” team to work with for the inaugural California 8 Hours in October, with teams such as Craft-Bamboo Racing and “others” an option for Sepang in December.
“It’s [about] getting connected with these teams, to support them,” Walliser said. “That is part of the story and part of the game.”
Walliser has also put his focus towards expanding their customer base in the Blancpain GT Series, which currently sees only a single full-season entrant in the Endurance Cup in Herberth Motorsport’s Pro-Am class effort.
The team has expanded to a two-car operation for this weekend at Spa.
“The Blancpain GT Series is important for us, and my feeling is we don’t have enough cars there so we’d like to see more,” Walliser said. “It’s small steps and you cannot force it so you have to grow steadily.”
With the Team75 Bernhard entry a one-off, Walliser is pushing to secure a full-season Pro class entry for the full Blancpain GT season next year, although admits it likely won’t happen overnight.
He said it would be unlikely for an existing team to switch to Porsche next year but said it could be possible in 2019 during the new homologation period.
“If you see a competitive team that can be successful, it would be good,” he said. “It’s also logical decisions behind team decisions and driver decisions.
“It took us a while to overcome the history [when] Porsche did not really care about Blancpain GT, so it takes time to bring the customers back.”