Porsche confirms Kevin Estre in final GTE Pro WEC full-season seat

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Porsche has confirmed that Kevin Estre will join its full-season line-up in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE Pro class.

Porsche’s factory effort returns to GT competition in the WEC this year after a season away, with a mid-engined 911 RSR set to battle with rivals Ford, Ferrari and Aston Martin for GTE Pro class honors.

Porsche confirmed at its Night of Champions event that 2015 champions Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz would be joined by Frederic Makowiecki for 2017, with the fourth full-season seat left open.

Ferrari factory driver Gianmaria Bruni had been in the running for the drive, only for the terms of his exit from Maranello to prevent him from joining Porsche until July.

As a result, Porsche factory driver Estre will take the fourth full-season WEC seat, as confirmed by the German marque on Thursday.

Lietz and Makowiecki will share the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR in 2017, with Estre racing alongside Christensen in the No. 92 entry.

“In the fight for the maiden GT World Championship title in the FIA WEC we’ve put together two strong driver pairings,” head of Porsche motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser said.

“And all four pilots come from the world’s best GT hotbed of talent, Porsche’s one-make race series.”

The new WEC season begins with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.