Amid much Paris-style razzmatazz, the ACO today announced the entrants for this year’s 24 Hour race. It goes without saying that last year’s winners, Porsche, will be carrying the numbers 1 and 2 once again this year as Porsche sets its sights on a hat-trick in 2017.
Porsche will be looking to defend not only its Le Mans crown in 2017, but also its FIA World Endurance Championship title. Today at its annual press conference in Paris, the FIA and ACO confirmed the entry of the two Porsche 919 Hybrids and the members of the new driver squad in an online press conference.
It was announced that the #1 Porsche will be driven by Neel Jani (33, Switzerland), André Lotterer (35, Germany) and Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain). Jani is currently joint WEC World Champion and 2016 Le Mans winner. Lotterer claimed the title of World Champion in 2012 behind the wheel of an Audi and brings with him the experience gained from three overall victories at Le Mans, while Tandy formed part of the winning 2015 Porsche team in Le Mans.
The #2 sister car will be shared between 2015 World Champion Timo Bernhard (36, Germany) and the two New Zealanders Earl Bamber (26) and Brendon Hartley (27). Bamber claimed joint victory with Tandy at Le Mans in 2015, while the same year saw Hartley share the title of World Endurance Champion with Bernhard.
Porsche has completely reworked the Class 1 prototype 919 Hybrid with its more than 900bhp (662kW) and will start the 2017 season with its sights set on winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA Endurance World Championship for the third time in a row. “We want the hat-trick,” declared Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, setting out the ultimate goal of the 260-strong team in Weissach. In both 2015 and 2016, Porsche swept the board, winning the team’s 17th and 18th overall victory in Le Mans and securing the title of both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ World Champion.
Enzinger continued, “Each and every one of the nine endurance races presents a challenge. Reliability is the basic requirement; six hours of navigating around the many cars in the different categories, each driving at different speeds, makes each race unpredictable – and ultimately it is often only seconds that separate the winner from the rest of the field. At four times the duration of the other races, Le Mans forms the pinnacle of the series. This 24-hour race pushes both men and machine to their absolute limits. Toyota is set to be a very strong contender in the top-tier LMP1 category for the 2017 season. We will face up to them with a meticulously enhanced Porsche 919 Hybrid and a team of six first-class drivers.”
The 2017 evolution of the Porsche prototype will be unveiled on March 31 at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Following this, all teams will perform official test drives on April 1 and 2 at the FIA WEC Prologue in Italy. Team Principal Andreas Seidl will continue to serve as acting technical director.
For the full 2017 FIA WEC calendar click here
Edited by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & John Mountney