American Connor de Phillippi gets second year as Porsche Junior

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Photo: Porsche

After a successful first season racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland in Germany, Connor de Phillippi has been retained by the German manufacturer for a second season as a Porsche Junior driver.

De Phillippi spent three seasons in Star Mazda here in the U.S., but when options failed to materialize for an advancement to Indy Lights (despite his prodigious talent) for 2013, he explored the sports car route.

In his first season, de Phillippi finished ninth in the championship in a field of more than 25 drivers, and was top rookie. He posted 10 top-10 finishes in 17 races, with a best finish of fourth place in the first race at Zandvoort.

“I now know how important it is to achieve a good qualifying result if you want to do well in a Carrera Cup sprint race,” he said in a Porsche release. “Winning the rookie classification was a good start. But next year I’ll be aiming for the podium. I’m up against some tough opposition, but my dream is to climb to the very top step.”

Three others besides the 20-year-old de Phillippi in the Porsche Junior program include Klaus Bachler (22, Austria), Alex Riberas (19, Spain) and Sven Mueller (21, Germany). De Phillippi and Riberas will receive funding of 150,000 Euro – approximately $205,000 – to support another year in Germany’s one-make series.

In the past, several of Porsche Junior drivers have been provided opportunities in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening round of the GRAND-AM (now TUDOR Championship) season. With the entry list revealed yesterday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the four Juniors spread among the 12 Porsche GT Americas entered for the race in January.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.