January 26, 2021

Porsche pulls N24 drivers, Manthey squad over COVID fears

The German manufacturer took the decision in the wake of positive COVID tests being returned during routine checks in the wake of last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours, where Manthey ran the two factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s in the GTE Pro class.

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A statement released late on Monday evening by Manthey stated that “nobody [within Porsche] who was on site at Le Mans will take part at the Nurburgring”, making it impossible for the team to field its usual ‘Grello’ 911 GT3 R in the the German endurance classic.

“For us, people’s health is the top priority,” commented Porsche vice-president of motorsport Fritz Enzinger. “Due to the current situation it is completely clear to us that we must put out sporting goals behind the common good.

“We will do everything we can to provide our customer teams with as much support as possible for this race through technical personnel and the available works drivers.”

Manthey’s #911 car was one of eight Porsche entries set to participate in the top SP-9 class at the Nurburgring for GT3 cars, with Julien Andlauer, Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Lars Kern named as the team’s drivers.

Team managing director Nicolas Raeder said: “We made this decision together with Porsche Motorsport. Our team, ‘Grello’ and the Nordschleife all go hand-in-hand.

“But under these circumstances it’s clear to everyone at Manthey Racing that health is the priority for everyone taking part in the 24-hour race.”

Two-car customer teams KCMG, Frikadelli Motorsport and Falken Motorsport are also affected by Porsche’s decision to pull its drivers that raced at Le Mans.

KCMG, which switched from Nissan to Porsche machinery this year, will be without Richard Lietz, Romain Dumas and Patrick Pilet. Meanwhile, Frikadelli loses Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Campbell (who was set for double duty with Manthey) and Falken will have to make do without Thomas Preining and Matteo Cairoli.

Huber Motorsport, which is running a single 911 GT3 R, is not affected.

Porsche said that it is “in discussions with the affected teams to look for solutions so that the remaining 911 GT3 Rs can compete”.

#19 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R: Alexandre Imperatori, Edoardo Liberati, Josh Burdon

#19 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R: Alexandre Imperatori, Edoardo Liberati, Josh Burdon

Photo by: Jan Brucke/VLN

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