Few brands are so closely associated with motorsport as Porsche. In 2018, the Stuttgart marque has strengthened its commitment to the Blancpain GT Series by launching a full-scale Pro assault on the Endurance Cup.
This weekend’s trip to Paul Ricard will represent the third event for the Manthey Racing squad, which is overseeing the brand’s factory-backed effort. Porsche’s commitment to the task is clear from their driver line-up, with Romain Dumas, Frederic Makowiecki and Dirk Werner piloting the Pro class #911 car.
After a challenging start to the season at Monza, the crew began to show their quality at Silverstone. The #911 machine finished the British race in 11th spot, only narrowly missing out on their first points of 2018.
Next up they will tackle the Paul Ricard 1000km – a home race for both Dumas and Makowiecki – where the team will prepare for the season-defining Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Porsche is of course no stranger to winning endurance races. With six victories at the event it is already the third-most successful manufacturer in the history of the 24 Hours of Spa, and another win this year would see them tie Alfa Romeo for second spot.
What’s more, Porsche is one of just two manufacturers, alongside Ferrari, to have been present at every edition of the 24 Hours since it switched to GT rules in 2001.
The brand first enjoyed success at the event in the sixties, with a trio of wins coming in succession in 1967, 1968, 1969 with the Porsche 911.
Their next triumph did not come until 1993, when the crew of Christian Fittipaldi, Uwe Alzen and Jean-Pierre Jarier clinched top spot with their Porsche 911 RSR.
The 1993 race ended a long wait for Porsche – and saw no fewer than nine of the brand’s cars present in the top-10 – but the event was more notable for not going the full distance. The Fittipaldi-Alzen-Jarier car was leading at the 15-hour juncture, when the race was stopped as a mark of respect for King Baudouin of Belgium, who had died the previous day.
It would be another decade before a Porsche won the 24 Hours again, but the drought was ended in fine style.
Despite competing in the second-tier N-GT class, the Freisinger Motorsport Porsche 911 of Dumas, Stephane Ortelli and Marc Lieb triumphed against the odds. They did so by using a clever strategy, flawless driving, and a little extra assistance from the unpredictable Spa weather.
The brand’s most recent triumph came in 2010, when Porsche stalwart Dumas was once again among the drivers in a Porsche 997 GT3-RSR run by BMS Scuderia Italia. The French ace was joined by Martin Ragginger, Jörg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler aboard the #23 machine, which led a Porsche one-two in the Ardennes.
2018 will therefore give Dumas a chance to win his third 24 Hours, a feat that would elevate him into an elite group of less than a dozen drivers.
The #911 car is not the only Porsche competing in the Blancpain GT Series this season. The #991 Herberth Motorsport car is also present, with the trio of Edward Lewis Brauner, Jürgen Häring and Wolfgang Triller contesting the Am Cup. The all-German line-up began the season with fourth in class at Monza and took a podium finish at Silverstone in third spot.
With further Porsche entries possible for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the Stuttgart marque should be well represented at the season’s most important race.