The season-opening race of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC at Silverstone on 20 April marks the return of Porsche to top-level motorsport. On the storied British race track, the newly-formed Porsche Team campaigns two Porsche 919 Hybrid vehicles in the LMP1 class. In the GTE-Pro class, the Porsche Team Manthey squad fields a pair of Porsche 911 RSR. Silverstone hosts the first of eight WEC rounds this season, with the Le Mans 24 Hours as the ultimate highlight in June.
The Porsche drivers
Six works drivers contest the LMP1 class on the Silverstone Circuit with the 919 Hybrid: Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany) share the cockpit of the number 14 vehicle, with Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) teaming up in the number 20 prototype. Six works drivers tackle the GTE-Pro class with the Porsche 911 RSR: Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) in the number 91 vehicle with Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) in the number 92 sports car.
The Porsche race cars
The newly-developed Porsche 919 Hybrid is the most complex race car Porsche has ever put on wheels. Because the LMP1 regulations have stipulated a decrease in the allowable fuel quantity available per lap by around 30 percent compared to 2013, the vehicle has been designed for extreme performance and efficiency. With the combination of two different energy recovery systems and a downsized turbocharged engine, it also serves as a research platform for fundamental technology for future production models. The Porsche 911 RSR campaigned in the GTE-Pro class is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car. The 470 hp winning racer from Weissach celebrated its race debut last season and promptly scored a brilliant double victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For 2014, the 911 RSR received improvements in many areas. This season it has already clinched victories at the long distance classics at Daytona and Sebring.
The six-hour race in Silverstone starts on Sunday, 20 April, at midday local time (13.00 hrs CEST) and is broadcast live on the internet under www.fiawec.com. Eurosport airs the final hour of the race live from 18.00 hrs CEST.
Quotes before the race
Porsche Team (LMP1)Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: „Time has flown since Porsche announced its plan to return to the World Endurance Championship. That was on June 30th, 2011. Assembling the entire team to now number 230 employees, the infrastructure, vehicle development and construction – this was an unbelievable phase. But now it is high time to go racing and see where we stand. The main priority for the first race outing of the 919 Hybrid is that we finish at Silverstone. We drove six hours at a stretch several times during testing, but racing is always a special challenge. The debut for the team and the vehicle will be very exciting for us all.“
Romain Dumas (#14): “To compete with the 919 Hybrid in the WEC is a big, new challenge for us – for the drivers, for the team, for Porsche. Everything is new and different. We have to be very focussed. 2014 requires the most intelligent drivers and teams.”Mark Webber (#20): “The hybrid technology is all about efficiency and performance which are both in Porsche’s DNA anyway. There is a lot of crossover between racing and road cars which fits well to the brand. For us in the cockpit it’s pretty busy but the best guys will still find a way to be quickest. For me Silverstone is like a home race and it is also the venue where I won my last Grand Prix back in 2012. I can’t wait to turn the first laps there with the 919 Hybrid.”
Porsche Team Manthey (GT)
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “With the victories at the long distance classics at Daytona and Sebring in the USA, the 911 RSR made a very successful start to the season. Now we are keen to carry this positive momentum into the WEC. From a technical point of view, the official tests at Le Castellet ran well and the Porsche Team Manthey, which is by and large a newly-formed squad, has left a good impression too. And the new driver line-up also works well. Now at Silverstone we just have to pull it all together against the toughest competition. We’re looking forward to an exciting season.”Patrick Pilet (#91): “We’re heading to Silverstone feeling very confident. The balance of the 911 RSR has become much better especially in the fast corners. That’s why the track should suit us well. The whole car and tyre package fits. We’re going for the title this season and we hope to be first off the mark against very strong opposition from Aston Martin and Ferrari.” Marco Holzer (#92): “I look forward to my first WEC race and I’m pleased that the season is finally starting. At the tests at Le Castellet I found the 911 RSR easy to drive. In fact, the tests in general were very positive and we made some good progress. In any case, we’re well prepared for Silverstone.”
The Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles contest the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC in four classes: LMP1 (eg. Porsche 919 Hybrid), LMP2, LMGTE-Pro (eg. 911 RSR) and LMGTE-Am (eg. 911 RSR and 911 GT3 RSR). They all compete together in one race but are classified separately.
The 2014 races
20 April Silverstone/Great Britain03 May Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium14/15 June Le Mans/France20 September Austin/USA12 October Fuji/Japan02 November Shanghai/China15 November Sakhir/Bahrain30 November Sao Paulo/Brazil