The 2016 season of the Sports Car World Championship WEC kicks off on 17 April at Silverstone. With factory support from Porsche, Dempsey Proton Racing fields a Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Pro class at the six-hour race on the storied racetrack in the British Midlands. The American racing driver and Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey is a joint partner of the squad. Three other Porsche customer teams will tackle the GTE-Am class with the 911 RSR. Several details on the 470 hp winning racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, were revamped over the winter months. At this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race, Porsche will campaign its own GT factory team.
The Porsche drivers
Sharing the cockpit of the #77 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Dempsey Proton Racing is the reigning WEC GT champion Richard Lietz (Austria) and his works driver colleague Michael Christensen (Denmark). Two other factory pilots, Wolf Henzler (Germany/KCMG) and Patrick Long (USA/Abu Dhabi Proton Racing), will race for customer teams at Silverstone. Due to Patrick Long’s racing commitment in the USA on the same weekend, the former Porsche Junior Klaus Bachler (Austria) will stand in for him at Silverstone.
The Porsche 911 RSR
The 911 RSR, with which Porsche won all three GT championship titles for drivers, manufacturers and teams in the 2015 WEC season, is the fastest ever nine-eleven. The insights gained during the vehicle’s development and at race outings are directly incorporated into the design of future 911 generations. The 470 hp winning racer, which is characterised by an uncompromising lightweight design, received modifications for 2016, particularly to the aerodynamics.
The six-hour race at Silverstone starts on Sunday, 17 April, at midday local time (13:00 hrs CEST).
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “After our successful season in 2015 where we won the three GT titles, 2016 is a transitional year in the WEC for Porsche. We’re not running our own factory team in the series, but instead we’ll support our customer team, Dempsey Proton Racing, in their GTE-Pro-class campaign with the 911 RSR. The Proton Competition squad, who stands behind the team, has been a reliable and successful Porsche partner for many years. This outfit won the GT title in the European Le Mans Series in 2009 and 2010 with the 911 GT3 RSR. Despite the tough competition, I’m confident that Dempsey Proton Racing, with our works drivers Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen, will be good for some surprises this year.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “The big challenge for us in the first races will be familiarising ourselves as quickly as possible with the new team, and to work together towards delivering a good performance on the racetrack. We’ll only know where we stand after Silverstone. As the title defenders with our proven technology, we’re up against strong competition from other manufacturers. We’re looking forward to some great duels. We have six hours to do our very best and give them a run for their money. After all the testing, I can’t wait to get out on the track and contest my first race of the season.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 RSR #77): “Normally you only conduct tests before the first race of a championship. But I’ve already clocked up a decent amount of kilometres at the races in Daytona and Sebring. That must surely give us a small advantage. I’m excited about my second WEC season and working with the experienced Dempsey Proton Racing crew. The season-opening round at Silverstone – the heart of British motor racing – is something very special to me. I really like the racetrack, I’ve driven many different vehicles there and I always felt great. The enthusiasm of the British fans adds to the fantastic atmosphere.”
Wolf Henzler (Porsche 911 RSR #78): “To contest a whole WEC season is a new and interesting experience for me. I’m looking forward to it. After eleven very enjoyable years of racing in the USA for Porsche, it’s time for a new challenge. The last time I competed at Silverstone was three years ago in the European Le Mans Series. It’s a great circuit. I just hope that it won’t be too cold because that makes it difficult to get the tyres up to the optimal working temperature.”
The Sports Car World Championship WEC
Sports prototypes and GT vehicles contest the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC) in four classes: LMP1 (eg. Porsche 919 Hybrid), LMP2, LMGTE-Pro (eg. 911 RSR) and LMGTE-Am (eg. 911 RSR). They all compete together in one race but are classified separately.
The Porsche teams contesting the 2016 WEC
#77 Dempsey Proton Racing
Richard Lietz (A), Michael Christensen (DK)
Wolf Henzler (D), Christian Ried (D), Joel Camathias (CH)
#86 Gulf Racing
Michael Wainwright (GB), Adam Carroll (GB), Ben Barker (GB)
# 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing
Patrick Long (USA), Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), David Heinemeier Hansson (DK)
17 April Silverstone/Great Britain
07 May Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium
18/19 June Le Mans 24 Hours/France
24 July Nürburgring/Germany
03 September Mexico City/Mexico
17 September Austin/USA
16 October Fuji/Japan
06 November Shanghai/China
19 November Sakhir/Bahrain