Despite having just won the FIA World Endurance Drivers' Championship, neither Romain Dumas or Marc Lieb will return as part of Porsche's LMP1 program next year. In an announcement on Friday, Porsche said, "From the end of the season, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb leave the LMP1-Team and their seats in the over 900 hp 919 Hybrid Le Mans prototypes to begin new tasks at Porsche." In other words, they remain under contract to Porsche, but in different roles.
At this point, according to Lieb, it looks like he will move back into the Porsche's GT ranks in support of Porsche's international customer racing efforts.
“I always imagined that the LMP1 programme would be my last seat as a works driver”, says Lieb, “and I managed to set the course early for my future career outside the cockpit at Porsche. I’m thankful for all the chances and possibilities I got at Porsche for so many years. And I’m especially grateful to my family for supporting me over two decades in racing. This was tough at times and I want to pay back some of it now. To perform the move into international customer racing at Porsche as a Le Mans winner and a world champion, means an incredible amount to me.”
What role Romain Dumas will play isn't quite so clear. While he remains under contract with Porsche, no direction was given in the release.
"For me, Porsche is like a family”, says Dumas. “I think of many great years with great racing cars. We made history quite a few times, in Spa and at the Nordschleife with the 911 GT3, and obviously in Sebring with the RS Spyder. The last three years with the new Porsche Team in the LMP1 category were at the highest professional level. It has been an incredibly competitive and very technically challenging era. Winning Le Mans 24 Hours with Porsche was a dream come true and I am proud of what we achieved all together since many years. I am an man of challenges and there will be a new one soon.”
This announcement, coupled with Mark Webber's retirement from racing, means there are three (3) seats to be filled for the 2017 LMP1 season. While we've heard lots of rumors, we'll likely have to wait until December 3rd's "Night of Champions" dinner when Porsche normally makes its plans for the next year's motorsport season public.