WEC news: Neel Jani replaces Michael Christensen at Porsche

Le Mans 24 Hours winner Neel Jani will join Porsche’s works GTE Pro team for the 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

After being replaced in Porsche’s Formula E line-up for 2020/21 by Pascal Wehrlein, Jani will return to the WEC to drive alongside Kevin Estre in one of the two Manthey-run 911 RSR-19s, taking the place of Michael Christensen. 

Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz will continue their partnership in the WEC for a third consecutive season in the sister car.

Jani, who was part of the Porsche LMP1 WEC campaigns in 2014-17, made his debut in a 911 RSR-19 at last month’s Sebring 12 Hours IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship finale alongside Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.

He will remain a nominated reserve for the FE squad of Wehrlein and Andre Lotterer, along with test driver Simona da Silvestro.

Christensen, who won the GTE Pro WEC title in 2018/19 with Estre, is one of six drivers to depart Porsche’s factory roster for 2021. The slimmed down squad reflects the marque’s decision not to contest the GT Le Mans class in IMSA.

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR: Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

In addition to Christensen and Nick Tandy, who is leaving Porsche to join the Corvette Racing IMSA squad, two-time Le Mans winner Bamber, Patrick Pilet, Sven Muller and Dirk Werner will no longer be factory drivers next season. 

Christensen and Bamber will retain their links with the marque and have been designated drivers for its customer programmes with the 911 GT3 R in the GT World Challenge Europe along with factory drivers Laurens Vanthoor and Frederic Makowiecki.

Bamber, Vanthoor and Patrick Long will race customer Porsches in the GT Daytona class in IMSA, with Bamber already having confirmed plans to race alongside Rob Ferriol in a 911 GT3 R run under the ‘Team Hardpoint EBM’ banner.

Thomas Preining has been given a full-factory contract having previously been what Porsche calls a “young professional”.

Porsche now has 14 full factory drivers, in addition to one young professional, Julien Andlauer, and one junior, Turkish racer Ayhancan Guven.

Detailed programmes for all 16 drivers have yet to be revealed, but Porsche stated that “almost all the drivers in the entire squad” will contest the Nurburgring 24 Hours next June.

Porsche’s statement made reference to the switch of the DTM to GT3 rules for 2021, but said that it had yet to determined whether customer teams will represent the marque in the series.

Porsche factory drivers in 2021:

Gianmaria Bruni (I)

Matt Campbell (AUS) 

Romain Dumas (F)

Kevin Estre (F)

Mathieu Jaminet (F)

Neel Jani (CH)

Richard Lietz (A)

Patrick Long (USA)

Andre Lotterer (D) 

Frederic Makowiecki (F) 

Thomas Preining (F) 

Simona de Silvestro (CH) 

Laurens Vanthoor (B) 

Pascal Wehrlein (D)

Julien Andlauer – young professional (F)

Ayhancan Guven – junior driver (TR)

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