Bamber won’t defend Le Mans title after Porsche/Audi confirm no third cars

Porsche has retained all six of its full-time World Endurance Championship drivers for 2016, meaning Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber will not defend their crown in France.

The German manufacturer took Le Mans and championship glory in its second year back at sportscar racing’s top level, with Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard adding the WEC crown to the Le Mans victory taken by Tandy, Bamber and Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg.

While the latter trio won Le Mans in Porsche’s third car that only competed twice this year, the joint decision by Audi and Porsche to scale back to two cars each for the French classic means only their full-time drivers will contest the race in 2016.

Porsche’s second car will once again be driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb.

Its LMP1 vice president Fritz Enzinger said: “The advice of ‘never change a winning team’ is spot on.

“Both our driver trios didn’t only perform brilliantly on track, but have also been with us since the beginning of the programme and have significantly contributed to the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s development.

“We are very proud of these six top drivers, and very pleased all of them are on board for the 2016 world championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

Team principal Andreas Seidl added: “Without the extraordinary performances by their drivers, Porsche couldn’t have achieved this sensational level of success in 2015.

“The icing on the cake in terms of teamwork was the fact that in the season’s finale the trio of Bernhard, Hartley and Webber were only able to become world champions because Dumas, Jani and Lieb fought their way to win the race.

“This also proves how important it is in this championship to have two equally strong driver crews. We will build on that strength and continuity.”

Hulkenberg would have been unable to rejoin Porsche for Le Mans next year due to a clash between the WEC showpiece and Formula 1’s European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.

Bamber won’t defend Le Mans title after Porsche/Audi confirm no third cars

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