Porsche has a long tradition of not only developing winning race cars but also developing successful drivers that reach the pinnacle of the sport. The Porsche Motorsport Pyramid began as an informal pathway for drivers to grow their craft and experience from novice laps to the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This developed into a more formal structure in Europe with the introduction of the Porsche Junior Shootout, which is conducted annually with the winner securing the Porsche Junior title for the coming season. In 2024, North America offers young drivers a similar opportunity with the support of the Porsche Talent Identification Program, the Porsche Junior Program and the Porsche Selected Driver Program. Each program provides a range of financial support for the drivers, in addition to a range of education. Supporting their development is delivered with the sole focus on producing professional race drivers within the North American market.
Motorsport has a natural entry point with karting. However, little has been done to ease the jump for drivers from kart to automobile racing. Porsche Motorsport North America remedies that with the inclusion of Talent Identification Program North America program to its Motorsport Pyramid. Porsche Motorsport North America will attend major karting events around the country to identify a range of future talent that are ready to take the next step of their career into automobile racing.
Through the Talent Identification Program, PMNA will recognize a range of young talent at the sharp edge of kart racing. PMNA will also deliver a platform and the tools required to perform in Porsche race cars at the next level. In 2023, the successful candidates were provided a unique driving experience at the Porsche Experience Center where former Porsche Factory Driver Patrick Long delivered a range of key driver trainings in Porsche 911 GT3 road cars. Drivers were also be invited to the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup round at the Long Beach Grand Prix where they received a behind the scenes tour of the category in action. As well an opportunity to meet current drivers and teams and receive guidance on their next step in the sport. Drivers will be provided with ongoing support from Patrick Long in securing a drive in the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America series, which is the first step in their sports car career.
Like in Carrera Cup, drivers in the Sprint Challenge North America Junior Program will now also enjoy the opportunity to span the gap between club levels and professional motorsport. This extension of the junior program to Sprint Challenge delivers a key first step in the development of young talent within the North American market. This will accelerate progress through the ranks, strengthen their skills earlier and maximize performance sooner.
Drivers selected to join the program receive specialized training in areas such as tires, chassis dynamics, media and fitness. Additionally drivers will compete for a range of prizes including free entry into the next round and a range of Yokohama race tires all designed around rewarding success through financial support. In addition, Junior drivers will get access to Porsche racing legend Patrick Long for consultation to guide their career paths as well as attend the annual Junior Workshop. The Junior Workshop provides a two day workshop where all junior drivers across Sprint Challenge and Carrera Cup will receive key training on fitness, mental performance, media training, partnerships and here from a range of athletes on their journey.
BENEFITS OF PORSCHE SPRINT CHALLENGE JUNIOR PROGRAM:
The Porsche Junior program was developed to provide a bridge between one-make racing and factory driver status. It offers an opportunity for exceptional talent to be trained by Porsche to maximize performance at the factory level. The Porsche Carrera Cup North America Junior Program was first introduced in 2021 and has been further enhanced entering 2023 through increased education and financial support to every driver attending.
Drivers selected to join the program receive specialized training in areas such as tires, chassis dynamics, media and fitness. Additionally drivers will compete for a range of prizes including free entry into the next round and a range of Michelin race tires all designed around rewarding success through financial support. In addition, Junior drivers will get access to Porsche racing legend Patrick Long for consultation to guide their career paths as well as attend the annual Junior Workshop. The Junior Workshop provides a two day workshop where all junior drivers across Sprint Challenge and Carrera Cup will receive key training on fitness, mental performance, media training, partnerships and here form a range of athletes on their journey.
The winner of the junior program will have the opportunity to compete in the Porsche Global Shootout against the best young talent in Carrera Cup globally with the winner awarded official Porsche Junior status and provided financial support to compete in the Porsche Supercup in Europe the following year.
BENEFITS OF PORSCHE CARRERA CUP JUNIOR PROGRAM:
For the last 26 years, Porsche’s exemplary junior program has been one of the most successful of its kind in motorsport. This initiative has paved the way for many talented youngsters to pursue professional careers as works drivers, producing numerous world champions and Le Mans winners in the process. Much of that success starts in the one-make series Porsche manages on multiple continents, but it all comes to a focal point at the annual Porsche Global Shootout. All the invited candidates share these factors: they are no older than 24 and have finished in the top five of one of the more than 30 Porsche one-make cup series around the world in the past year, driving the 911 GT3 Cup. And they all had to showcase their prowess on and off the track. The judges not only considers lap times and the general performance on the track, but also how they interact with the race engineers, their technical competence, their interaction with the media as well as the results of mental and physical tests.
The chosen driver receives the title “Porsche Junior” and a sponsorship package to be used in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup. However, the program reaches beyond financial support. The holistic concept focuses on all aspects of a professional motorsport career. This includes comprehensive support provided by Sascha Maassen. The former Porsche works driver is on hand to mentor the juniors before, during and after each race weekend. The University of Potsdam provides sports medicine support. Mental training, media seminars, PR commitments and other marketing activities are also part of the training regime.
The Porsche Selected Driver Program North America title highlights drivers as special talents within the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid North America system. The objective of the program is to assist the drivers with a hand-up to the next level of the sport through support both in and out of the car. A Selected Driver is neither an official Porsche factory driver nor a Porsche Junior but is highlighted for the open competition categories such as IMSA and the SRO.
Porsche Selected Driver Program North America drivers receive one on one mentoring from Patrick Long through the season to ensure they are maximizing their performance at each race event. Selected drivers will also receive a range of financial support and assistance in securing a seat with a Porsche customer race team at the next level as part of the position. In addition, drivers will have the honor of carrying the Porsche Selected Driver Program North America signet on their helmet and uniform for the coming season.
The objective of the selected driver program is to assist our drivers in taking the next step in their sports car career with the ultimate goal is to secure a seat on the 963 LMDH program
Porsche’s Junior program has boosted the careers of 28 racing drivers since 1997. Of particular note are the careers of today’s Porsche brand ambassadors Timo Bernhard (Porsche Junior from 2000 to 2001), Marc Lieb (2000 to 2002) and Earl Bamber (2014). All three won the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans at least once with the Porsche 919 Hybrid, as well as titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Thomas Preining, Porsche Junior from 2017 to 2018, secured two victories in the DTM this year with the 911 GT3 R. 2021 recipient Lauren Heinrich won the 2022 Porsche Carrera Cup Germany championship, was third in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and won the final round of the 2022 Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America season. Alessandro Ghiretti from France is the new 2024 Porsche Junior.
North America has enjoyed its share of young talent developing through its system. Most famously, Porsche racing legend Patrick Long was a longstanding Porsche factory driver who earned the position coming up through the Porsche one-make championships. Today, Long is a special consultant to Porsche Motorsport North America.
Other graduates of the Porsche system include 2021 Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America champion Seb Priaulx who raced to his first WEC class win in 2022 and returned to this continent in 2023 to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD class with a Porsche customer team. 2022 series champion Parker Thompson has moved into a factory driver role for a different marque while two-time series runner-up Kay van Berlo – as well as Carrera Cup race winner Trenton Estep – were Porsche Selected Driver Program North America recipients for 2023. Other experienced drivers using the Porsche Motorsport Pyramid North America include IMSA and/or SRO race winners Zacharie Robichon, Max Root, Roman De Angelis, Madison Snow, Cooper MacNeil, Daniel Morad, Alec Udell, Elliott Skeer, Michael DeQueseda and Connor De Phillippi among others.
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