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Porsche dominates WEC Mexico, No. 2 crew extends points lead

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Porsche tightened its grip on both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ crowns in the FIA World Endurance Championship by taking a dominant one-two finish in Sunday’s 6 Hours of Mexico at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Headed up by the championship-leading No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, Porsche finished over a lap clear of Toyota, who failed to put up any firm challenge in Mexico.

The result saw Porsche extend its lead in both championships as it looks to sign off from its time in the WEC’s LMP1 class in style, having announced its closure five weeks ago.

While the battle for overall honors in Mexico offered little in the way of a race, LMP2 came up trumps as the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson held on for victory, seeing off a late charge from the CEFC Manor TRS Racing squad.

Impressive stints from Jean-Eric Vergne and Ben Hanley in the No. 24 Oreca gave Manor a shot at its first WEC win, only for a late spin for Hanley to stunt the team’s charge and drop it to third in class behind the No. 36 Signatech Alpine entry.

GTE-Pro saw AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing battle hard for victory throughout the six hours, with the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE taking the checkered flag first by just 0.9 seconds.

However, Davide Rigon and Sam Bird were denied a second win of the season after receiving a penalty for speeding under a full course yellow, resigning them to P2 behind the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE shared by Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen.

Dempsey-Proton Racing picked up its second win of the season in GTE-Am courtesy of Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli in the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR, finishing a lap clear of the No. 98 Aston Martin.

The WEC returns in two weeks’ time with its sole visit to the United States at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Porsche secures FIA WEC pole in Mexico

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The FIA World Endurance Championship resumes its season with the first of five flyaway races to conclude its nine-race season at the 6 Hours of Mexico from Mexico City.

While the championship’s future plans were the topic of discussion earlier this weekend, on-track it was time for the 26 cars to focus for qualifying late Saturday afternoon following two practice sessions earlier in the day.

LMP1/LMP2

Three different cars led practice earlier in the weekend with the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, the No. 2 Porsche and No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, respectively, top of the charts in LMP1 between Friday’s lone practice, and then the No. 2 Porsche and No. 8 Toyota top of Saturday’s second and third practice sessions.

That set it up for qualifying, which was bumped up a few minutes owing to incoming bad weather, to see the latest battle between the two remaining LMP1 hybrid manufacturers for the pole spot.

In the end, it was Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, sharing the No. 2 Porsche, who scored the pole position with a best average lap time of 1:24.562 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Those two share their car with Earl Bamber.

The sister Porsche (No. 1 of Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy and Neel Jani) ended just behind at 1:24.710, with the Toyotas not far off either. With an average of 1:24.802, the No. 7 Toyota ended ahead of the No. 8 Toyota.

Similarly in LMP2, it was the No. 36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470 and Nos. 38, then 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07s which made it three different cars leading practice prior to qualifying there.

In qualifying, it was the lone Signatech Alpine car on pole. Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes share that car with new third driver Andre Negrao, moving over from the No. 35 car that has been withdrawn from competition. A 1:32.809 average lap time put this car atop the charts.

The No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing, No. 31 Rebellion Racing, No. 26 G-Drive Racing and No. 25 CEFC TRS Manor Orecas completed the top five here.

GTE-Pro/GTE-Am

AF Corse secured the GTE-Pro class pole with Davide Rigon and Sam Bird in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE at an average time of 1:39.425.

The two drivers are reunited this weekend after Bird missed the series’ most recent race at the Nürburgring in mid-July owing to his FIA Formula E Championship commitments at New York City.

This result comes after the No. 51 Ferrari, No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 and No. 71 Ferrari led the three practice sessions in order. The No. 95 Aston Martin slots in second, ahead of the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GTs.

Dempsey-Proton Racing scored the GTE-Am class pole with Christian Ried and Matteo Cairoli in the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR (1:42.166). That pair shares the Porsche with Marvin Dienst. The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda will roll off from second in class.

Sunday’s race runs from noon to 6 p.m. local time, so 1 to 7 p.m. ET.

Porsche: Formula E more than a marketing tool, ‘no passing fad’

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Porsche executive board member Michael Steiner is confident that Formula E will be more than just a “passing fad” or a tool for good marketing as the German marque begins to prepare for its entry to the series in 2019.

Porsche rocked the racing world last month by announcing it would be closing its LMP1 program at the end of this year, shifting its focus to Formula E where it will race from season six onwards.

The move sees Porsche follow in the footsteps of many more manufacturers, with Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Renault and BMW among those who will also be racing in season six.

Porsche had previously dismissed Formula E as not being of enough technical interest in its current state, but Steiner is confident of its future direction.

“The series is developing in an interesting direction,” Steiner said. Think, for example, of the rear axle with the electric motor, which manufacturers are able to design themselves within the regulations.

“Or take the inverter and the battery management, where there will also be more freedom. In the relatively short term, it is expected that a better battery will be used in Formula E, which will eliminate vehicle changes during the race.

“There are also planned increases in drive performance. And brake-by-wire is coming, along with other things. We have seen the roadmap on the technical side. The regulations will start to open up and the planned developments are very interesting.”

Steiner said Porsche is expecting Formula E to become a strong technical formula, adding: “We would not make such a wide-ranging strategic change for an event that only had marketing potential.

“If Formula E were just a short-term trend or a passing fad, we would certainly not become involved.”

Porsche staying coy on Formula 1 engine rumors

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Porsche has remained coy on rumors it could be set to enter Formula 1 as an engine supplier in the near future despite confirming that it is in the process of developing a “high-performance, high-efficiency engine”.

Porsche rocked the motorsport world last month by announcing it would be closing its LMP1 program at the end of the season in order to prepare for an entry to Formula E in 2019.

The realignment of its motorsport strategy came following Porsche’s attendance of meetings regarding F1’s future power options, set to come into play for the 2021 season.

The German marque had been rumored to be considering entering F1 as an engine supplier alongside its Formula E commitments, with member of the executive board research and development Michael Steiner responding to the speculation.

“Like other manufacturers, we participate in discussions on the future Formula 1 powertrain at the invitation of the FIA,” Steiner said.

“At the moment, the team in Weissach is not working on an F1 engine, but it is working on a high-performance, high-efficiency engine, specifically at the design level.

“So far, we have not decided what we will do with this engine, or in other words whether we will use it in series production or in motorsport. If the LMP1 programme had continued, we would have worked on efficient high-performance engines, and we are now pushing ahead with this development.

“The development contract with the engineers will run for the next 18 months.”

When asked directly if Porsche would be entering F1 in 2021, Steiner said: “I am not working on that assumption, but there is no statement to be made about this.”

F1 currently boasts four engine manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault – but is known to be discussing its future regulations with a number of parties both inside and outside of the sport.

Porsche last featured in F1 as an engine supplier in 1991, powering the Footwork team for six races before its switch to Ford engines for the remainder of the season.

Porsche announces Rennsport Reunion VI next year in Monterey

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A tradition continues with Porsche’s next Rennsport Reunion confirmed for Sept. 27-30, 2018, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The most recent Rennsport took place in 2015, also at the same venue in Monterey.

The full release from Porsche is below:

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Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today announced the next Porsche Rennsport Reunion will take place at the famed California racetrack in 2018. The upcoming Family Reunion has been expanded to four days and will be held September 27-30, 2018.

In what has become a tradition, Rennsport Reunion VI will bring together an extraordinary gathering of significant Porsche racecars, as well as those who have designed, engineered, and driven them to victory in the world’s most famous sports car races. Hosted by PCNA, the four-day program of on-track competition will be complemented by a Concours d’Elegance, which is open to invited race participants.

After staging the first three events in the east, with the inaugural at Lime Rock Park in 2001, followed by two events at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2004 and 2007, Rennsport Reunion IV moved west in 2011, tapping into a vast array of west coast car aficionados and Porsche enthusiasts. Returning to a threeyear interval, this incomparable event has turned into a world-wide happening.

“Choosing the Monterey Peninsula once again for our unique Porsche family reunion builds upon what we learned from previous Rennsport Reunions,” said Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America. “We had close to 60,000 fans, enthusiasts and owners come through the gates of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to celebrate with us in 2015, and California’s picturesque central coast provides an ideal backdrop. The Golden State as a whole has always been like a second home to Porsche.”

“We are honored to have been selected once again as the host circuit for Porsche Rennsport Reunion,” said Gill Campbell of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “This prestigious event has created a tremendous impact on motorsports around the world in the past and we are eager to bring it back to life again in partnership with Porsche. It is truly the most rewarding event I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in.”

During Porsche Rennsport Reunion V in 2015, over 1,300 Porsche Club of America (PCA) member-owned Porsche models helped fill the show fields, race classes, and parking lots of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to overflow capacity. For the upcoming sixth rendition, the PCA will once again play an integral role in the festivities.

Additional details and ticket information will be published on the Porsche press website and on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s website, as they become available.