The Porsche Manthey team have had a small re-shuffle in their driver line-up for the next round of the WEC at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Porsche works drivers Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz will be driving together in the number 92 Porsche 911 RSR, with Porsche junior Sven Müller and Kévin Estre sharing the driving duties in the second 911 RSR, car number 91.
The change in the driver line-up for Spa was necessary because the Laguna Seca race of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship is run at the same time. Porsche works drivers Michael Christensen and Patrick Pilet are driving the in USA for the Porsche North America team with the 911 RSR. Normally, the duo represents the Porsche Manthey squad in the WEC as teammates of Richard Lietz and Frédéric Makowiecki. At Laguna Seca they are subbing for their GT factory driver colleagues Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy, who will be sharing the cockpit of the third Porsche 919 Hybrid with Formula 1 driver Nico Hülkenberg for the Porsche team at Spa. Confused, you will be? With so many of the Porsche factory drivers racing across so many different championships, Porsche management have created a logistical nightmare for themselves. Luckily they have plenty of drivers with the flexibility to do this.
“Two important races on two continents within one week is an exceptional situation to which we’ve had to find a flexible solution to the cockpit combinations. Fortunately, we have some well-trained race drivers in our brand trophy series on hand and we’re convinced we can rely on them in such cases,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser. “Thanks to his solid performances, Sven Müller has earned the chance to pit himself in the 911 RSR against the world’s best sports car pilots. His progress is not just another example of the success of our Porsche youth development concept. It also underlines the importance of the Porsche one-make cup series as a launching platform for young drivers. His example shows yet again: Porsche opens all doors to those who are really fast.”
“It’s a dream come true for me,” says Sven Müller, last year’s best rookie in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland and winner of the Monza round of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. “When I was given the chance to drive the 911 RSR for the first time in the pre-season tests in Le Castellet, I was already nervous. But that subsided pretty quickly. The Porsche Manthey team made me feel very welcome. My first laps at the wheel of the 911 RSR were a fantastic and important experience. Now I can’t wait to race in Spa.”
Kévin Estre also gained his most important motorsport experiences in Porsche’s brand trophy series. In 2011 he won the French Carrera Cup and was crowned rookie of the year in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. In 2013 he added the Carrera Cup Deutschland title to his list of achievements. “The Porsche one-make cups paved my way to a professional racing career,” says the Frenchman who now lives in Germany. “For this reason I’m extremely pleased that the Porsche Manthey team have put their trust in me to drive a 911 RSR at the WEC round in Spa. My aim is to do a perfect job as a substitute for the regular drivers and to earn as many points as possible towards the championship for Porsche on this fantastic race track.”
Marco Ujhasi, Overall project manager for the GT works squad had this to say “The car setup is of very special importance on this demanding circuit. The one who finds the best compromise and manages to keep tyre wear to a minimum has an advantage that could prove decisive. Sven Müller is a young yet excellently trained race driver. Already at the prologue in Le Castellet he quickly became acquainted with the team. Our seasoned drivers will support him in working on the setup and they’ll help him get accustomed to this difficult circuit as quickly as possible. Moreover, he has an experienced teammate with Kévin Estre at his side.”