New Zealand. Impressive performances in the GT works campaign and during testing of the Porsche 919 Hybrid have earned two drivers a spot in the LMP1 squad. This season, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) will tackle Spa-Francorchamps as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours at the wheel of the innovative sports prototype. Teaming up with Formula 1 pilot Nico Hülkenberg (Germany), the pair tackles both races in a third 919 Hybrid (number 19).
Earl Bamber, who received support as part of Porsche’s youth development programme, managed to climb the career ladder into the top tier of long distance racing in record time. After winning the Porsche Motorsport International Cup Scholarship shootout, he went on in2014 to clinch the title in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup as well as in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia for the second time since 2013. Furthermore, the “Kiwi” won two rounds of the Carrera Cup Deutschland and secured second place at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, one of the long distance classics in the USA. These successes earned him a contract as a works driver just prior to the 2015 season and he then quickly climbed the next step on the ladder into the LMP1 programme. In addition to his commitments at the wheel of the 919 Hybrid at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, Bamber tackles the Tudor United SportsCar Championship in the USA and Canada with the 911 RSR. “Receiving support from Porsche was the chance of a lifetime as a race driver,” he said. “I’ve reached new levels in every aspect and I’ll do my utmost to justify this trust again this season.”
“I’m thrilled for Earl and Nick. They’ve earned this chance with their impressive performances,” says Porsche Head of Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “Their rise into the premier class of long distance racing not only confirms the effectiveness of the Porsche youth development concept. It also underlines the importance of Porsche’s brand trophy series as a career stepping stone for young race drivers who bring the necessary talent, a great willingness to learn and the critical will to succeed. Porsche opens all doors to those who are really fast.”
Earl Bamber will be the second “kiwi” in the Porsche LMP1 squad with Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand) piloting the number 17 car with Timo Bernhard (33, Germany), and Mark Webber (38, Australia). The number 18 car will be driven by Romain Dumas (37, France), Neel Jani (31, Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (34, Germany). Both these driver line –ups are unchanged from 2014.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl added: “We are very happy to be allowed to enter a third car in what is only our second season. This shows once more how strongly the company backs the LMP1 programme. At the same time we face the operational side and need to be respectful of what it takes when entering three of those complex prototypes and handling nine drivers in Spa and Le Mans. In this regard it was also important to leave the proven driver combinations from last year untouched. These six now know all about each other and all the tracks on the WEC calendar. In 2014 the entire team was a newcomer. Now we can build on lessons learnt and our targets are more ambitious. Le Mans will be new territory for Nico Hülkenberg, as well as for Earl Bamber, and we will give our outmost to support them.”
Following its maiden win at the 2014 season’s final race in Brazil, more podium finishes are the aim for the future for the Porsche 919 Hybrid in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). This is the objective the company announced today at the annual press conference held by the Le Mans organisers, the Automobil Club de l’Ouest (ACO), in Paris. To reach that goal the 919 Hybrid has been significantly developed in many areas.
The evolution of the Porsche 919 Hybrid will be officially presented on March 26th on the Circuit Paul Ricard circuit in Southern France. The next two days will see the first joint test for the entire 2015 WEC field, the so called prologue. Porsche is excited to experience the first encounter with the competition’s works cars.