Porsche drops full GTE WEC programme, chasing two Le Mans entries

Porsche will attempt to gain two GTE Pro entries for the Le Mans 24 Hours after opting against a full defence of its World Endurance Championship titles

Porsche drops full GTE WEC programme, chasing two Le Mans entries

The German manufacturer has confirmed that it is downscaling its GTE Pro programme for 2016 and that reigning WEC GT champion Richard Lietz will defend his drivers' title with the factory-supported Proton squad.

Porsche adds Kevin Estre to GT line-up from McLaren

But the decision for the factory Manthey team not to contest the full series means that Porsche is effectively giving up the manufacturers' and teams' titles it won last season.

Manthey's drivers for Le Mans, should its entries be accepted, would include 2015 overall winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

Frank-Steffen Walliser, who heads up Porsche Motorsport's GT division, explained that a decision had been made to take a sabbatical from the WEC while a new car is developed for the latest GTE rules that come into force in 2016 and the first season with the marque's latest GT3 customer car is undertaken.

"This is mainly a result of what we are doing in GT racing at the moment with the new 911 GT3-R and in GTE for 2017," he told Autosport.

"We need to step back for 2016 to be able to go full power for 2017.

"But it is important that we continue to support the GTE class in the WEC; we have a responsibility to keep the class interesting next year."

He added that he would be "very pleased to receive confirmation of two GTE Pro grid spots at Le Mans" from race organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

Lietz will share a single Proton GTE Pro class Porsche 911 RSR, updated to the new rules, together with regular 2015 team-mate Michael Christensen.

The car will be run by under the Proton Dempsey Racing banner alongside a sister entry in the GTE Am class.

Proton ran factory-supported programmes for Porsche in the Le Mans Series in 2007-11.

The continuation of the factory GT Le Mans programme in the IMSA SportsCar Championship in North America with a pair of GTE-spec 911 RSRs run by CORE Autosport was confirmed in October.

Walliser would not be drawn on which version of the face-lifted 991-shape 911 would be based in 2017.

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