On Saturday night, Porsche unveiled their 2018 GTE plans at their annual Night of Champions gala in Weissach, Germany. With the 919 Hybrid no longer racing, the company has recommitted itself to their GT roots.
The “forward-engined” Porsche 911 RSR that debuted in 2017 will continue to compete full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship during the 2018-19 “super series.” There have been one driver change, though. Gianmaria Bruni, who signed with Porsche in the middle of last season, will co-drive the No. 91 full-time alongside Richard Lietz. Bruni comes to the team from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and replaces Frédéric Makowiecki in the seat. Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre will once again drive the No. 92 full-time.
In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the CORE autosport-run squad will have driver changes in both cars. Nick Tandy will replace Dirk Werner in the No. 911 Porsche alongside Patrick Pilet. The move reunites a pair of drivers who won four times in class in 2015. At Road Atlanta, they took advantage of the dicey conditions and superior Michelin wet tires to claim overall victory in the rain-shortened Petit Le Mans. That performance allowed Pilet to win the GTLM championship. SportsCar365.com reports that Makowiecki will join the team for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
In the No. 912 Porsche, Laurens Vanthoor returns for his second season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. With Bruni off to the WEC, he’ll share his car full-time with former 919 Hybrid racer Earl Bamber. Bamber drove the No. 912 full-time in 2016 alongside Makowiecki before getting the call up to the 919 program. The pairing creates what Porsche refers to as a “world-class duo.” Bruni will return to the team for the endurance races.
Werner and Makowiecki will still be regularly active within the Porsche family. They will be driving for Porsche-backed Manthey Racing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, along with Romain Dumas.
Finally, the team plans a four-car assault on the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Makowiecki will return to the No. 91 to join with Bruni and Lietz. Vanthoor will join the No. 92 team alongside of Christensen and Estre. The two CORE autosport-run Porsche North America cars will also be entered. The No. 93 Porsche will be driven by the three remaining full-time IMSA racers (Bamber, Pilet and Tandy). The No. 94 Porsche will be shared by Timo Bernhard, Dumas and Sven Müller.