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Ex-F1 driver Wehrlein emerges as Porsche LMDh contender after test – Motorsport.com

The former Sauber and Manor Formula 1 racer took part in a multi-day endurance test with the Porsche Penske Motorsport team at Sebring, Motorsport.com has learned.
News of the try-out comes at a time when it appears that Porsche still has a vacant seat in its planned 10-driver line-up across the Penske-run factory team’s twin assaults on the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
Wehrlein’s test hints at Porsche considering giving the German a double programme next season in Formula E and in sportscars.
This would almost certainly be in the WEC, which has no clashes with FE apart from the Jakarta double-header taking place on the same weekend as the Le Mans test day a week ahead of the 24 Hours.
Porsche was unable to confirm that Wehrlein sampled the solo 963 at Sebring last week, only revealing that a total of nine drivers got behind the wheel over the course of four days’ running.
Asked if Wehrlein was a contender for an LMDh drive, a Porsche spokseman said he “would not take part in the speculation game”.
Porsche has already announced eight of the 10 drivers who will race for the Penske-run factory team in the two series.
It now looks certain that Nick Tandy has already signed to fill one of the two unannounced seats after no mention of the 2015 Le Mans winner was made when his current employer, Chevrolet, announced its 2023 programmes last week.
The most likely reason his return to Porsche after two seasons away has not been announced is because his programme with the Corvette Racing GTE Pro WEC squad will not finish until next month with the Bahrain series finale.
Frederic Makowiecki is also known to have driven over the course of the four days at Sebring last week and appears to remain in contention for the final seat.
Porsche 963 LMDh
Photo by: Porsche
The Frenchman was the first to drive the Porsche LMDh on both the simulator and the race track.
When Porsche announced six LMDh drivers at the official launch of the car in June, Makowiecki’s input into the project was recognised in its statement.
Antonio Felix da Costa, who is joining Wehrlein in the Porsche FE squad for next season, is not thought to be in the running for a factory sportscar drive.
Instead, the Portuguese is likely to remain with the British JOTA team, which became the first Porsche LMDh customer to be announced for the WEC last June.
Da Costa has been part of the JOTA LMP2 line-up in the WEC for the past three seasons and leads the 2022 points together with Will Stevens and Roberto Gonzalez going into the Bahrain 8 Hours on November 12.
The eight prototype drivers confirmed by Porsche so far have been announced in two tranches: Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron were unveiled last December; and then Andre Lotterer, Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, Laurens Vanthoor, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet were unveiled at the end of June.
Porsche’s Sebring test last week began on Tuesday with a day of set-up work, before PPM moved on to endurance testing on the Wednesday.
It completed approximately 7300km of running over the four days, which included a 36-hour test.
It now means the 963 LMDh design has amassed a total of 24,500km since the roll-out of the first car in January.
The Porsche spokesman revealed that the car suffered “no major problem” and was only delayed by “Sebring-type issues related to the bumps”.
He described the test as a “big milestone” for the team.

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