Porsche names new motorsport chiefFri, 11 Jul 2014 08:01:00 EST
Though it may have expanded into crossovers and sedans, Porsche is still a company with racing at its heart. You might even argue that Cayenne and Panamera sales only serve to fund the company's motorsports activities. Competition-spec 911 coupes still make up a large portion of the grid in any GT racing series, and those activities are presided over by the Porsche GT division (separate from its LMP1 program), which has just announced a changing of the guard.
Porsche's GT unit – which is responsible both for racing models like the 911 RSR and road-going models like the 911 GT3 – has until now been steered by Hartmut Kristen (pictured above, left) in his capacity as Vice President of Motorsport at Porsche AG. During his ten-year tenure, Kristen gave birth to the RS Spyder that competed in the American Le Mans Series and the pioneering 911 GT3 R Hybrid. He also fostered what Porsche characterizes as "arguably the most comprehensive youth development program in motor racing" and saw the marque return to Le Mans last year with a dominant 1-2 class victory.
Kristen, now 59 years old, is leaving the German automaker, but will remain an advisor to the company's R&D department. Taking over as VP of Motorsport will be Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, who has until now been head of the 918 Spyder project (a responsibility he will continue). Walliser (pictured above, right) was previously Porsche's general manager for motorsport strategies and will now be responsible for Porsche's GT projects on and off the track, while Fritz Enzinger continues at the helm of the LMP1 program in pursuit of better results next year than the 919 Hybrid achieved at Le Mans last month.
New leadership for GT motorsport programme and GT production sports cars
Frank-Steffen Walliser takes over from Hartmut Kristen
Stuttgart. Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (44) takes over as the new Vice President of Motorsport at Porsche AG as of October 1st, 2014, and in this role is responsible for the worldwide GT motor racing activities as well as for GT production sports cars. He is the successor to Hartmut Kristen (59) who will work alongside the Research and Development Board in an advisory role. Walliser will remain project manager for the 918 Spyder project.
Hartmut Kristen is a long-standing authority at Porsche. Born in Berlin, Kristen joined the company in 1983, and from 1994 was responsible for customer racing activities and GT vehicles. In 2004 he took over as Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. In this role he not only made his mark in top motorsport, for instance with the RS Spyder sports prototype in the American Le Mans Series and with the innovative 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Another winning model was the 911 GT3 RSR, with which customer squads scored many class victories most notably at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
In addition to expanding Porsche's customer racing activities worldwide, which he regarded as the "backbone of Porsche motorsport", the promotion of talented young race drivers was also something very close to his heart. Under his direction, arguably the most comprehensive youth development programme in motor racing emerged. Today, five former Porsche juniors bolster the current works driver line-up. In 2013, Hartmut Kristen led the new Porsche 911 RSR works-campaign to a double class victory at Le Mans. For him and his team, the 2014 season began with the successfully modified 911 RSR clinching wins in the USA at the long distance classics of Daytona and Sebring.
Porsche motorsport is familiar terrain for Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser. With a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering specialising in combustion engines and technology management, he held the position of General Manager of Motorsport Strategies from 2003 to 2008. As the overall project manager of the 918 Spyder from November 2010, the native of Stuttgart was responsible for the series development and production of Porsche's ground-breaking super sports car that holds the lap record of six minutes and 57 seconds on the Nürburgring Nordschleife for road-homologated production sports cars. Frank-Steffen Walliser is married and the father of two children.
As the Vice President of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser is responsible for the worldwide motorsport activities in the GT field as well as for GT production sports cars. Fritz Enzinger will continue at the helm of the LMP1 campaign and the running of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in the Sports Car World Championship WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
By Noah Joseph
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