Porsche extends LMP1 commitment by three more years

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NÜRBURGRING – Porsche has extended its commitment to its LMP1 programme by another three years, ensuring that the German marque will remain in the FIA World Endurance Championship to the end of the 2018 season.

Porsche announced in 2012 that it would be reviving its LMP1 programme for the 2014 WEC season, marketing it as “Mission 2014. Our return.”

The 919 Hybrid car made its racing debut at the 2014 6 Hours of Silverstone before claiming its maiden victory in the season-ending 6 Hours of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In 2015, Porsche has gone from strength to strength, claiming all three WEC pole positions thus far, four podium finishes, and, most notably, its first overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998.

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, Porsche confirmed that it would be extending its commitment to its LMP1 programme until the end of the 2018 season.

“The board of Porsche AG has decided to extend the Le Mans prototype programme until the end of the 2018 season,” a statement read.

“With its ground-breaking concept – a downsizing turbo engine and powerful energy recovery systems, combined with an extreme lightweight design – the racing car with a performance of around 1,000 hp serves as a research laboratory for future sports car technology.”

Porsche LMP1 vice-president Fritz Enzinger was delighted to confirm that the marque’s WEC entry was secure for another three seasons after making such a quick impression in the endurance series.

“Back in 2012 we began in Weissach with a handful of people, literally a white sheet of paper, high expectations and a strong amount of courage,” Enzinger said.

“I’m very proud of this team of 230 employees and I’m pleased for each of them that from now on we can plan securely for three more world championship seasons and Le Mans entries.”

Porsche will be targeting its first victory as a manufacturer in the 1000km Nürburgring – now the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nürburgring – since 1984 this weekend.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III