Development programme for five budding pilots
“Porsche Motorsport Talent” – five young drivers from four countries can be truly proud of this title heading into the 2010 season. From twelve candidates at a talent search held in Vallelunga (Italy), Porsche Motorsport selected the five most promising youngsters. Niall Breen (23, Ireland), Jono Lester (20, New Zealand), Tim Sandtler (22, Germany), Harald Schlegelmilch (22, Latvia) and Ferdinand Stuck (18, Germany) share up to 180,000 Euro as a cash injection into their racing budgets for the international Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup or the Carrera Cup Deutschland. With this, Porsche writes yet another chapter in its long-standing and hugely successful junior development programme in motorsport.
Twelve pilots from six countries spent two days testing three 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars. Each driver had the same number of new tyres at their disposal. Assisted by Porsche engineers, the pilots worked on setting up the vehicles. Porsche racing aces Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jan Seyffarth were on hand to give participants valuable tips and advice, assisted by computer-aided data analyses. In 2008 and 2009, Bleekemolen won the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, with former Porsche Junior Jan Seyffarth securing third in last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. The budding young racers were also judged on criteria like personality as well as team and communication skills.
The five selected hopefuls hail from a wide range of motorsport categories. Niall Breen is the two-time champion of the Formula BMW Great Britain. In 2008 he contested the Formula 3 Euro Series. At the age of 17, Jono Lester won a round of the Porsche GT3 Cup New Zealand to finish last season fourth overall. Tim Sandtler began his career at the age of ten in a kart and, most recently, contested several races in various Formula 3 championships. Harald Schlegelmilch claimed the German Formula 3 Trophy title in 2006 and went on to take Austria’s Formula 3 Championship that same year. In 2009, the youngster competed in the German Formula 3 Cup, the international Formula Masters and the American Formula Atlantic. Ferdinand Stuck, the youngest son of racing legend Hans-Joachim Stuck, made his racing debut in 2003 at the wheel of a kart before going on to contest the ADAC Formula Masters in 2008 and 2009.
“We’re very pleased with this talent search,” summarised Jens Walther, Head of Porsche’s brand trophy series. “All participants were extremely disciplined. We had neither an accident nor a technical defect with the three brand-new vehicles. We carefully weighed up each candidate against each other. The five drivers we selected can rightfully call themselves a “Porsche Motorsport Talent”. All in all, we were very impressed by the standard of participants and hope to see as many of them as possible contesting the Porsche one-make series.”
Niall Breen (23, Ireland): “Although I’ve been driving Formula cars only and haven’t sat in a race car for ages, it didn’t take me long at all to get used to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. I was easily able to adapt my driving style from Formula 3 to the GT vehicle and I improved from session to session.”
Jono Lester (20, New Zealand): “I’m really pleased that Porsche chose me as one of the five talents. I would like to use my budget to contest the Supercup. The new Cup vehicle suits my driving style very well. The most difficult aspect will be to familiarise myself with the circuits. I hardly know any tracks outside New Zealand. My greatest dream is to one day become a Porsche works driver.”
Tim Sandtler (22, Germany): “I’m very proud Porsche has selected me as a talent after this very intensive and fair screening. I would very much like to race in the Carrera Cup. The most appealing aspect for me is the close competition and the fact that everyone has identical equipment.”
Harald Schlegelmilch (22, Latvia): “This is first time ever that I’ve sat in a car with a roof. I’m surprised how quickly I adapted to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. The car is much faster and more precise than I had expected – a truly super racer. I felt really good after just five laps and could then go to the limit. What a great opportunity. And it’s fantastic that a manufacturer does something for young drivers in such difficult economic times.”
Ferdinand Stuck (18, Germany): “I was surprised by the amount of time we were given on the track during this selection process. The data evaluation with Cup professionals Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jan Seyffarth was priceless. I learnt an incredible amount from the two. I’m looking forward to my season in the Carrera Cup. Porsche’s organisation of this championship is very professional, so I have a great deal to offer my sponsors.”