The selection process to find Porsche juniors for the 2012 season is now on the home stretch.
At track tests in Vallelunga, Italy, six finalists ranging in age from 18 to 21 excelled with outstanding lap times and showed impressive progress over the two days. Klaus Bachler (20, Austria), Tom Blomqvist (18, UK), Michael Christensen (21, Denmark), Mario Farnbacher (19, Germany), Ramon Pineiro (21, Portugal) and Dennis Trebing (20, USA, third from left with the GT3 Cup cars, ABOVE) had earlier come out on top at a rigorous selection process against other talented youngsters from around the globe.
Currently, Porsche Motorsport is evaluating the data from all the test laps and will then compare these with the comprehensive sports medicine results. The chosen drivers will receive support as Porsche juniors in the Carrera Cup Deutschland. Porsche provides most of the season's budget. The junior pilots choose their own teams for whom they want to compete. A junior coach supervises the training of the Porsche juniors and is on hand as a mentor.
Professional racer Sascha Maassen takes on this role. The German was a Porsche works driver from 2000 to 2009, and this season contests the American Le Mans Series in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Maassen has a great deal of experience as a talent scout, coach and driving instructor. At the wheel of sports prototypes and GT race vehicles from Weissach, Maassen won the American Le Mans Series three times and celebrated class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Sebring 12 Hours.
"The six finalists have had very little opportunity to get experience at the wheel of a GT racecar. They have far exceeded our expectations,” praises Maassen. “All of the pilots very quickly grasped how you have to drive the 450hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in order to be fast.”
Aside from financial support, the drivers receive assistance similar to the internationally successful Porsche factory pilots. Fitness tests with constantly adapted training plans as well as media coaching and sponsor obligations are also part of the program. Initially, the program runs for four years.
Porsche has supported talented youngsters with strong programs in motorsport since 1997. Today's Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernhard, Marc Lieb and Patrick Long were trained as Porsche juniors. Recently in 2011, Marco Holzer made the leap from Porsche junior to works driver. Other big-league names in motorsport to emerge from this scholarship program are Dirk Muller, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller.