Posted Dec 12th 2012 1:30PM
Porsche still hasn't showed the LMP1 contender it is building for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 – in fact, there won't be any public eyeballs on it until the middle of 2013. But the Stuttgart manufacturer sure wants to make sure everyone knows it is coming, giving us another update – after the initial announcement and a retrospective video – on the car's progress even if there is no actual car yet.
The Weissach Motorsport Centre where the racer is being born has been expanded just for the purpose with a new office complex and workshop building. The entire program has been restructured and the initial program head has relinquished his duties to focus on all of Porsche's other motorsports activities, while the chief of BMW's former F1 program, Fritz Enziger, has been brought in.
When it does hit the track, there will be drivers with Porsche's works team behind the wheel and providing support. It will start racing in the 2014 World Endurance Championship, which will give it plenty of hardcore development laps before that showdown in the Arcadian Gallic countryside. Clearly, Porsche is serious. There's a press release with further details below, and an encore showing of Porsche's Le Mans history, brought to you by Steve McQueen.
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Porsche LMP1 Sports Prototype to be run by Weissach-based Works Team
Stuttgart/Atlanta – December 8 -- At the Weissach Motorsport Center outside of Stuttgart, preparations for the running of the new LMP1 sports prototype at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours and in the sports car World Endurance Championship are progressing at high revs. For this project, the infrastructure was considerably expanded. A new workshop building and an office complex have been completed.
"The first rollout of our new LMP1 car is planned for mid-2013," announced Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche AG Board of Management Member for Research and Development, on Saturday on the occasion of the end of season "Night of Champions" celebration.
"The car will be run by our own works team based here at Weissach," said Hatz.
Following a re-structuring, the LMP1 project is being managed by a new department headed by Fritz Enzinger, former head of BMW's Formula I program. With his well- established organizational structure, Porsche's Head of Motorsport Hartmut Kristen continues to be responsibility for all other motorsport programs worldwide.
The customer sport model 911 GT3 R, celebrating 41 wins from 131 starts in a range of GT3 racing series worldwide, is back for the 2013 season. Porsche offers teams an upgrade package which will position the GT3 R even better in the performance window as defined by the FIA (this car does not race in North America).
In his Night of Champions speech, Hatz underlined the importance of GT racing for Porsche and pleaded for two different GT categories for works-supported professional sport and for customer sport.
"In factory sport the regulations must be based on technology while in customer racing, a stronger alignment of the relative strength by Balance of Performance measures is legitimate."
In addition to the promotion of four Porsche Juniors, one pilot from the international makes cups will enjoy comprehensive support for the 2013 season. Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay (25) who won the Carrera Cup France at his first attempt last season receives funding to the value of 200,000 Euro towards his 2013 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup campaign. At a test session in Vallelunga, Vernay won over eight other top drivers from the Carrera Cups France, Asia, Japan, Scandinavia, Italy, Australia, Great Britain and from the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada.
Vernay has already made a name for himself in international motor racing. In 2005 he claimed the championship in the French feeder series Formula Renault Campus and went on to finish second in a Formula 3 single-seater at the Macau Grand Prix in 2009. In 2010 Vernay went to the USA and promptly clinched overall victory in the Indy Lights Series' in his first season. Peugeot contracted the Frenchman as a test and reserve pilot for their LMP1 project in 2011. At the same time Vernay competed in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and was crowned LMP2 champion. "The support from Porsche is a great opportunity for me," says Vernay. "In the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup all drivers have to adjust to a new vehicle. For me as a newcomer this means I'll have a good chance to be competitive right from the beginning. The Supercup is the pinnacle of the Porsche one-brand cups and has a great reputation as a launching platform to enter professional GT sport."
With its well-established works drivers, Porsche is relying on continuity. All nine drivers still have a valid contract for the 2013 season or their contract was extended. For six of the nine drivers, the 24-hour race at Daytona on 26 January marks the start of the new season. Joerg Bergmeister drives a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup for The Racers Group. With Kevin Buckler's squad, Bergmeister scored a sensational overall victory at Daytona in 2003 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Marco Holzer competes for Alex Job Racing, Marc Lieb again joins forces with Brumos Racing and Richard Lietz drives for last year's winner Magnus Racing. Patrick Long goes racing for Park Place Motorsports (formerly Horton Motosports) and Patrick Pilet competes for the NGT team. The other three factory drivers, Wolf Henzler, Timo Bernhard, and
Romain Dumas, are on other assignments.
For the Porsche Juniors Michael Christensen and Klaus Bachler the race in Daytona marks the first time in their career that they contest a 24 hour race. Christensen receives support in his campaign from Christian Engelhart and Porsche Cup winner Nick Tandy for the Konrad Motorsport team with whom he contested the Carrera Cup Deutschland in 2012. Bachler is competing for Snow Racing in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car with IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge star Madison Snow.