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The decision is made: Austria’s Klaus Bachler (20) and Michael Christensen (21) from Denmark are the new Porsche Juniors. The two talented youngsters, who have already notched up creditable successes in karting and diverse Formula racing series, will contest the 2012 season of the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. Porsche provides a large part of the season’s budget and also coaches the juniors off the race track.
In a two-tiered selection process, Bachler and Christensen prevailed over all the other young drivers from around the world. In making the decision, factors such as fitness, mental strength and technical understanding played an equally as important role as the liaison with engineers, consistent times over a race distance on a circuit as well as the simulation of qualifying laps.
“We have deliberately taken our time in making the final decision for our two juniors. All six finalists were at a very promising level,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport Hartmut Kristen. “Both Klaus Bachler and Michael Christensen have the necessary skill to successfully gain a foothold in the sports car scene. Our current Porsche works drivers have shown that the Carrera Cup is an excellent school for a professional international career.”
The Porsche Juniors will choose their own teams for whom they want to compete in the Carrera Cup Deutschland and will prepare to launch into the season on 28 April in Hockenheim. The junior coach, Sascha Maassen, provides support for the pair.
The professional racer from Germany has a great deal of experience as a talent scout, coach and driving instructor. At the wheel of sports prototypes and GT race vehicles from Weissach, Maassen won the American Le Mans Series three times and celebrated class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Sebring 12 hour race.
Klaus Bachler comes from Unzmarkt in Austria, just 25 kilometres from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. At the age of nine, he began his career in karting and performed impressively after moving to the Formula Lista in 2007, claiming five victories and the title in the junior classification. In 2009, ten podium results and two wins yielded him vice-championship honours in the ADAC Formula Masters in Germany. Last season he took home third overall in the German ATS Formula 3 Cup with two race victories.
“To work with Porsche is a huge opportunity for me,” said a delighted Klaus Bachler. “A GT sports car is completely new territory for me. But during the test drives at the evaluation process it didn’t take me long to become comfortable with the car. I’m looking forward to what I can learn from Porsche, my coach Sascha Maassen and my team. I couldn’t imagine a better education.”
Michael Christensen lives in Karlslunde on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In karting he has already made a name for himself worldwide. In 2004 he became the Danish Junior Champion and defended his title in 2005. In addition he was crowned the Scandinavian and European champion. One year later the youngster became German champion and world vice-champion in the top class of the Formula A. Moreover, he won the prestigious Macau Kart Grand Prix. In 2007 he secured the title as German champion, Danish champion and came third in the European championship. In the years 2008 and 2009 he yielded sixth and fourth respectively in the Formula BMW Europe. During the last two seasons he contested the GP3. In 2011 he climbed the podium twice and concluded the championship in eleventh place.
“I’m very proud that Porsche has chosen me and has put such faith in me. I’m very much looking forward to the Carrera Cup where all drivers have the same equipment and the same chance,” says Christensen. “That will undoubtedly be the most exciting year of my career to now, not least due to the many things that I can learn from Porsche both on and off the race track.”
Aside from financial support, the drivers receive assistance similar to the internationally successful Porsche factory pilots. Fitness tests with constantly adapted training plans as well as media coaching and sponsor obligations are also part of the programme.
Porsche has intensively supported talented youngsters in motorsport since 1997. Today’s Porsche factory pilots Timo Bernhard, Marc Lieb and Patrick Long were trained as Porsche juniors. Recently in 2011, Marco Holzer made the leap from Porsche junior to works driver. Other big-league names in motorsport to emerge from this scholarship programme are Dirk Müller, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller.