Mo­tor sport

Motor Equipment News - - CONTENT - By Ross MacKay. Pho­tos by Porsche.

It’s a story that gets more in­trigu­ing by the minute. First Porsche an­nounced that it was ditch­ing the world’s premier sports car class – LMP1 – for a mix of GT class and the bur­geon­ing For­mula E sin­gle-seater cat­e­gory. Then, just when you thought that the com­pany’s leg­endary rac­ing de­part­ment had been hi­jacked by a posse of boffins and cost-ac­coun­tants came news link­ing the fa­mous Ger­man sports car man­u­fac­turer with an en­gine sup­ply/even­tual buy­out deal with F1 pow­er­house Red Bull.

In the mid­dle of it are Kiwi driv­ers Bren­don Hart­ley and Earl Bam­ber, both now Le Mans win­ners with the mar­que and both now – in the­ory at least – out of a job. Porsche, how­ever, has been at pains to say that they are not dis­band­ing the LMP1 team, rather they are keep­ing them on the pay­roll – driv­ers in­cluded – so they can be de­ployed “on other tasks”.

What, ex­actly, th­ese tasks are has yet to be as­cer­tained; how­ever, the of­fi­cial word from Porsche leaves out as much as it left in.

To whit: “From 2019, a Porsche works team will com­pete in For­mula E. As a re­sult, the com­pany will be end­ing its in­volve­ment in the LMP1 class of the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship (WEC) at the end of the 2017 sea­son.

“Porsche (how­ever) will main­tain its fo­cus on in­ter­na­tional GT rac­ing, and will also con­cen­trate its mo­tor­sport strat­egy on us­ing the 911 RSR in the GT class of the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, the high­light of which is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as the Amer­i­can IMSA WeatherTech Sport­sCar Cham­pi­onship and other long-dis­tance clas­sics.”

So far, so good. But why the dual move to the hith­erto unloved For­mula E se­ries?

Ac­cord­ing to Porsche: “This re­align­ment of mo­tor­sport is de­rived from the di­rec­tion set out for the com­pany in Porsche Strat­egy 2025, which will see Porsche de­velop a com­bi­na­tion of pure GT ve­hi­cles and fully elec­tric sports cars, such as the first fully bat­tery-pow­ered Mis­sion E road car.

“En­ter­ing For­mula E and achiev­ing suc­cess in this cat­e­gory are the log­i­cal out­comes of our Mis­sion E. The grow­ing free­dom for in-house tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments makes For­mula E at­trac­tive to us,” says Michael Steiner, Mem­ber of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board for Re­search and De­vel­op­ment at Porsche AG.

It’s not just Porsche ei­ther. In a sim­i­lar “bomb­shel­l­like” an­nounce­ment in July, Mercedes-Benz con­firmed ru­mours that it was pulling out of the Ger­man do­mes­tic tour­ing car cham­pi­onship, the DTM, (which it has sup­ported in its cur­rent form since 2000) at the end of 2018 to con­cen­trate on For­mula E from 2019.

For those read­ers who don’t know, For­mula E is the world’s first purely elec­tric rac­ing se­ries and was launched on Septem­ber 13, 2014. The In­ter­na­tional Au­to­mo­bile Fed­er­a­tion, or FIA, which is also re­spon­si­ble for For­mula 1, has or­gan­ised the se­ries to make a state­ment in favour of elec­tro­mo­bil­ity and to get more young peo­ple ex­cited about mo­tor­sport.

Like the ul­ti­mately ill-fated A1GP se­ries the For­mula E one be­gins in the (North­ern Hemi­sphere) au­tumn and ends in sum­mer, and has a de­lib­er­ate fo­cus on tem­po­rary race venues in the heart of ma­jor cities, mean­ing the sport comes to the spec­ta­tors – and not the other way around.

Jaguar was one of the first ma­jor car mak­ers to en­ter a team in the se­ries (with Kiwi Mitch Evans one of its works driv­ers) and next sea­son strength­ens that com­mit­ment with a one-make sup­port se­ries for its all-elec­tric E-Pace SUV!

This year will be the last in a Porsche LMP1 car for Kiwi pair Nel­son Hart­ley and Earl Bam­ber.

Next year’s Porsche’s sport car fo­cus will move to the GT class with its pro­duc­tion-based RSR mod­els.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.