The Porsche Team claimed a one-two result in front of a great crowd at the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the Nürburgring. The trio of Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AUS) won the six-hour race in temperatures of more than 30 degrees Celsius. Right behind them the sister Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) came second. Over the weekend 62,000 people created a fantastic backdrop for the first German WEC race.
After the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s maiden victory at last year’s finale in Brazil and the recent one-two result at Le Mans in 2015, this is the third major success for the young team and the prototype’s ground-breaking hybrid technology. For the driver line-up, which includes former Formula One driver Mark Webber, it is the first and long hoped for WEC race win. With this dream result Porsche has extended its lead in the manufacturers’ world championship and is now lying 33 points ahead of Audi and 95 ahead of Toyota.
With the relatively short and twisty 5.137 kilometre long circuit and the numerous classes going at different speeds, the race was action packed with thrilling lapping and overtaking manoeuvres. The way the car of Dumas/Jani/Lieb finished second was full of stories. After starting from pole, they lost the lead in the first half of the race because of long stop-and-go penalties after a technical problem. While the team usually changed drivers at every fuel stop at the Nürburgring, Neel Jani stayed in the car for 76 laps, which was two and a half stints. It was also Jani who recorded the fastest race lap at the Nürburgring with a time of 1:37.955 minutes.
How the race went for car number 17: Timo started from P2 behind the sister car. During a “Full Course Yellow” he lost around ten seconds because of slow lapped cars between him and the leading car. Later a damaged nose cone disturbed the aero, which is why the team decided to stop early. After 24 laps Timo handed over to Mark, who continued with a new front. Eventually having dropped back to P6, Mark overtook the number 7 Audi on lap 40 to be second again behind the sister car. After 56 laps Mark handed over to Brendon, who took the lead on lap 64 when car number 18 was penalised. After 89 laps Timo took over the leading car to hand it to Mark again after 123 laps. During a Full Course Yellow after 144 laps Brendon jumped in again. After 175 laps Mark took over for the final stint and brought the car home to take the victory.
How the race went for car number 18: Neel defended pole position against the sister car. After 31 laps he handed over to Marc, when leading by over a minute. After 54 laps Marc received the first of, in the end, three stop&go penalties for the number 18 car. The first is five seconds. When he resumed in the race he fought hard against Mark in the sister car and defended the lead. After 63 laps Romain got behind the wheel, and was in P2. But after 78 laps he was given a 30 second stop&go, followed by a 60 second stop&go after 82 laps. The reason was a problem with an engine sensor, which caused the car to use more fuel per lap than the regulations allowed. After 96 laps Neel got back into the car in fourth. He did a double stint, picking up fuel and tyres after 129 laps. When the next full course yellow happened he drove even longer, because he pitted for fuel after only 144 laps. After he overtook the number 8 Audi he was lying third. From lap 167 onwards he was in a breath-taking battle with both Audis. After 172 laps, Neel pitted with the car lying third. Marc took over for the final 45 minutes and improved to second place.
Race result 6 hours of Nürburgring (DE):
1. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 203 laps
2. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 1 lap behind
3. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 1 lap
4. Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (BRA/F/GB), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 1 lap
5. Davidson/Buemi/Nakajima (GB/CH/J), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 3 laps
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (A/F/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 4 laps
FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), after 4 out of 8 rounds,
1. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (D/F/CH), Audi, 95
2. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 78
3. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche, 76
4. Tandy (GB), Porsche & Oreca, 66
5. Bamber/Hülkenberg (NZ/D), Porsche, 58
6. Di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis (BRA/F/GB), Audi, 52
1. Porsche 184
2. Audi 151
3. Toyota, 89