#56 Porsche 911 RSR, Project 1, on 02/05/2019 at the Spa 6H, 2019
Project 1 burst onto the World Endurance Championship (WEC) scene at the start of the 2018 Super Season. We covered their arrival on Porsche Road & Race in A New Team On The Block, and What You Need To Know About Team Project 1. While their arrival on the WEC scene might have been new for the team, they had been around for a quarter century before that, quietly building experience and racking up victories in many other race series. The team’s motto, Be Cool Be Fast Be First, really captures the aura in the pit garage as there is little sign of stress, and the interaction between team members is relaxed, confident and professional.
At the same time as the team entered the WEC arena in 2018, they were celebrating their 25th anniversary in motorsport. Although the step up to WEC represented their biggest commitment to date, the team from Lohne, Germany, had already enjoyed many successful years of participation in the Carrera Cup Deutschland, Mobil 1 Supercup and the ELMS. Project 1 spokesman, Jan Bodenbach, explains how the team adapted to the demands of the WEC, “For the one make series, the Carrera Cup and Supercup, we outsourced this capacity. Here we cooperate with Fach Autotech and JBR Motorsport, who are quite experienced in Cup racing. They do the car preparation and the logistics for us, and at the track we do the engineering, the team management and the sharing of the mechanics. The WEC and ELMS cars are prepared by Project 1, there is nobody else involved, this is just us.”
Project 1 runs six Porsches, two each in the Carrera Cup and Supercup, and one each in the ELMS and WEC. Bodenbach again, “In the beginning , it was a lot more work for us because we had to organise not only our team, but we had to organise three teams. So, we had quite a high workload in the first month, but as the season got going the workload reduced because everyone knew what to do.”
Running six Porsches requires quite a lot of workshop space, but as Bodenbach explained, “The cars are not all in our workshop so it is okay, we just swapped from Cup cars to RSR, this has been the only change in our workshop.” Project 1 started with the Carrera Trophy (which it was previously known as), before moving up the Carrera Cup and the Supercup until 2018, which is when they added the WEC to their activities. “We have done some endurance racing in Dubai with a GT3 R in 2011 and we did the Porsche World Cup which was at the Nordschleife in 2012,” he added.
But the jump up to the WEC was a much bigger step than they had made at any time previously. The first WEC race for the team, the 2018 Spa 6 Hours, was also the opening round of the inaugural 2018/2019 WEC Super Season. “The first race at Spa in 2018 was quite hard because it was a mega step to come from the one make series into a world championship, and we all had to adapt. We had a lot of help from the WEC to make it work, but the problem at the first race was that we were always one-and-a-half hours behind the timetable, and we couldn’t catch up the whole weekend. Once we were all used to the WEC and what the world championship meant, we got into a routine and we could improve our systems,” Bodenbach revealed.
How the Project 1 WEC team came about
Patrick Lindsey outlined how it all started, “A few manufacturers came to us when we were figuring out what we were going to do for the 2016 season. We wanted to stick with Porsche, and so they sweetened the pot a little bit through Porsche Motorsport North America with the addition of a factory driver, Jörg Bergmeister. Jörg has turned out to be a great addition not only just from the driver’s seat, but also the experience and leadership that he brought to the team. Jörg helped to steer the ship so to speak with the relationship that is now Project 1.”
Jörg Bergmeister was instrumental in pulling the whole initiative together, as he recalled, “This all came together when Patrick (Lindsey) said that he wanted to do Le Mans. I was already racing together with him in GTD [IMSA] and he said to me that he would be really interested to do Le Mans. I talked to Uwe Brettl [Porsche customer sports sales manager] who suggested that we should talk to Hans-Bernd Kamps [founder of Project 1], who I also knew from my Carrera Cup and Supercup days.
“The first meeting went really well in October 2017, and I hit it off straight away with Richard Selwin (Chief Engineer) who is the technical director. Initially, the plan by Hans-Bernd Kamps was in the first year, to see how we did and then to develop and improve in the second. But I said no, if we do it we do it right, and we want to be competitive right from the beginning because there was no reason not to fight for the championship right away, and Richard (Selwin) saw it the same way.”
With Patrick (silver class driver) and Jörg (professional) already in the picture, the team needed a third member, preferably a bronze class driver. Egidio Perfetti was a perfect fit, as he came to the team from the Porsche one-make series. Perfetti explained, “It all came about through the Porsche network. I was racing in the Carrera Cup and Supercup and met Hans-Bernd [Kamps] there. I always had the ambition to drive the RSR, which from a customer point of view, is the pinnacle that you can really aspire to. I always imagined myself doing a season in ELMS or something like that but then Hans-Bernd got in touch and when the opportunity came about for all of us to get together and have a good shot at the WEC, it was something that was difficult to resist. This was especially attractive being the Super Season with two chances to race at Le Mans with the same team after having gone through the learning curves with them.”
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