Porsche fielding two-car factory team in United SportsCar Championship

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In another bit of major news regarding the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Porsche is set to run a two-car factory squad in the GT Le Mans class for the series’ inaugural campaign next year.

The operation, which is known as PORSCHE NORTH AMERICA, will feature the new Porsche 911 RSR, which earned top honors in the GTE-Pro class at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of Porsche AG Team Manthey. The 911 RSR also serves as Porsche’s challenger in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Headquarters will be at Porsche Motorsports North America in Santa Ana, California, with CORE Autosport to serve as the team’s competition partner. CORE currently competes in the American Le Mans Series as part of the GT and Prototype Challenge classes.

“North America is Porsche’s single largest road car and motorsports market. Therefore, we have decided to focus a full factory program in the newly formed series, similar to our competing in the World Endurance Championship together with Manthey Racing,” Germany-based Porsche Motorsport head Hartmut Kristen said in a statement.

“Having finally a unified platform to compete on has made the decision so much easier to enter a GT based Porsche factory team for the first time in American sports car racing.”

Porsche did not reveal the drivers for its new United SportsCar effort, but said in a press release that the manufacturer plans to have the roster made up of competitors from its factory driver stable.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.