Porsche is set to revert to a local team-focused model for its Intercontinental GT Challenge campaign, according to Head of Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, who has essentially ruled out a full-season team entry for next year.
The German manufacturer, which supported two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs in all but one of the rounds this year, is ramping up plans for a similar program in 2019.
“We are working with teams and entries that will work,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “It looks good at the moment.
“The last open spot is Kyalami. We try to continue like this year.”
Walliser indicated that Manthey Racing, which was due to contest the entire IGTC season this year prior to a decision to forgo the season-ending California 8 Hours, is unlikely to return in a similar capacity.
Instead, local teams, apart from at the new-for-2019 Kyalami 9 Hours, are set to be utilized, although again with at least one full-season driver lineup.
Factory drivers Romain Dumas, Fred Makowiecki and Dirk Werner took part in all four rounds this year, between the Manthey entry and Wright Motorsports’ Porsche entered at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Walliser said they plan to again support at least two cars in each race.
“It’s possible we do more, for sure, but we’ll try to keep these two and to have a driver lineup that runs through the year,” he said.
“The idea is to have local teams and support them, to go back to the original model of the series.”
While achieving success in GTE competition worldwide, Porsche generally struggled in SRO-run championships this year with its 2018-spec 911 GT3 R, which Walliser attributed to tire performance-related issues.
Its all-new GT3 contender, which will debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, features a larger front tire that’s aimed to combat the challenges faced in 2018.
“I think it looks better for next year,” Walliser said. “Also, the new car with a bigger diameter on the front, it can [more] easily handle a regular tire.
“If there was something wrong on this car, it was the diameter of the front wheel, it was too conservative.”
Porsche Still Working to Expand European Customer Base
Walliser said they’re still working on securing additional top-level customer GT3 teams in Europe, which has been one of its primary goals, particularly in the Blancpain GT Series.
“There are still lot of things are going on and a lot of offers,” he said.
“Teams travel from manufacturer to manufacturer and look for the best offers. We are not known for spending a lot of money.”
When asked if Manthey will return for a full-season Blancpain GT Endurance Cup campaign, Walliser said “not everything is finalized.”
Announcements on the manufacturer’s 2019 programs will be made at its annual “Night of Champions” dinner on Dec. 8.