Photo: Tony DiZinno

Porsche has another busy sports car year ahead; here’s their lineups

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This weekend in Weissach, Germany, Porsche held its annual Night of Champions event. It was a phenomenal evening with a mix of celebrations, announcements, reflections and 2016 program confirmations.

With 16 works drivers split between Porsche’s LMP1 and GT programs, it might be easy to lose track of who is running where.

Porsche and sister brand Audi have scaled back their 24 Hours of Le Mans programs, with only two LMP1 cars apiece rather than three as both had this year.

Here’s a breakdown of who is set where, and for what events, for 2016 in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as it stands following the Night of Champions event:

FIA World Endurance Championship

LMP1

1 – Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Timo Bernhard/Mark Webber/Brendon Hartley
2 – Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid – Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb

GTE-Pro

Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR – Richard Lietz/Michael Christensen, + Wolf Henzler (LM24 only)

Subject to ACO Approval for 24 Hours of Le Mans only:

Porsche Team Manthey – Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy/Kevin Estre
Porsche Team Manthey – Porsche 911 RSR – Fred Makowiecki/Earl Bamber/Joerg Bergmeister

At the moment, Patrick Long is the only Porsche works GT driver not placed with a team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, although Long co-drove with Dempsey Proton Racing in the GTE-Am class in 2015.

Proton is also expected to have at least one and potentially two cars as a GTE-Am component for the 2016 FIA WEC season.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

GT Le Mans

911 – Porsche North America – Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy, + Kevin Estre (NAEC)
912 – Porsche North America – Porsche 911 RSR – Fred Makowiecki/Earl Bamber, + Michael Christensen (NAEC)

GT Daytona (Rolex 24 at Daytona extra works drivers)

23 – Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing – Porsche 911 GT3 R – Wolf Henzler
73 – Park Place Motorsports – Porsche 911 GT3 R – Joerg Bergmeister
TBA – Black Swan Racing – Porsche 911 GT3 R – Patrick Long

At the moment, Richard Lietz is the only Porsche works GT driver not placed with a team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The six LMP1 drivers are also not listed for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Pirelli World Challenge

Patrick Long will race with EFFORT Racing in its No. 31 Porsche 911 GT3 R this season, replacing Ryan Dalziel.

Dalziel, meanwhile, won the Porsche Cup on Saturday night, awarded to Porsche’s top privateer driver. For the award, Dalziel also wins a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.