After having achieved the third consecutive Le Mans victory, Porsche also managed a hattrick in the six-hour race at the Nürburgring: Like in 2015 and 2016, Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) climbed on to the top step of the podium. In 2017 the duo were joined for the first time by Earl Bamber (NZ) in winning this race. It was the second race triumph for the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 and the 15th in total for the 919 Hybrid since its debut in 2014.
The sister car with reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) finished second having led the race for a long time. This outcome marks the fifth one-two FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race result for Porsche, the last dating back to the 2015 Shanghai race.
After light rain in the morning, the fourth of nine championship rounds was held in dry conditions. Porsche has now scored 154 points in the manufacturers’ world championship with a 39.5 points gap to Toyota. In the drivers’ rankings, Bamber/Bernhard/Hartley have 108 points in total, earning them an advantage of 30 points over the best placed Toyota trio. Meanwhile Jani/Lotterer/Tandy move up to fourth position in the championship (46 points).
After the summer break, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will take place on September 3rd in Mexico City.
How the race went for car number 1:
Start driver André Lotterer accelerates from P3 on the grid and stays third behind the number 7 pole-starting Toyota and the number 2 sister Porsche. The top-three cars were covered by less than 1sec after 24 laps (46 mins). At the end of lap 31 lap (after 56 mins) André pits for full service to Neel Jani. The car lies P2 behind the number 7 Toyota after the first stops. On lap 35 Jani drops back to P3 after he is delayed in traffic and overtaken by the sister Porsche. On lap 46 Jani follows the sister Porsche in overtaking the Toyota. This makes a one-two lead for Porsche at 14:22 hrs. After 64 laps Jani pits for fuel only and continues in P2. On lap 68 Neel gets past Brendon for the lead. After 97 laps Nick takes over the wheel of the leading car. On lap 123 he touches the number 67 GT Ford when lapping it, fortunately both cars continue. After refuelling at the end of lap 130, Nick continues in P2. On lap 135 he takes the lead from the sister car before handing it back over to André after 163 laps for the final stages. At the last pit stop for fuel, the advantage goes to the championship leading sister car. Lotterer finishes the race in second place.
How the race went for car number 2:
Following an additional formation lap when the number 8 Toyota had a problem on track, Timo Bernhard starts from P2 on the grid and runs within half a second of the leading number 7 Toyota and just ahead of his teammates in the other Porsche. Timo pits from P2 on lap 32 (58 mins) for full service to Brendon Hartley. The Kiwi re-joins just behind Jani in P3 as Hartley exits the pits but goes ahead of the number 1 Porsche and into P2 on lap 35. On lap 43 (at 14:17 hrs) Hartley hunts down the number 7 Toyota and takes the lead. After 65 laps he pits for fuel only and continues. When the double stinted car loses a little performance, on lap 68 Brendon has to let Neel ahead and slips to P2. Earl takes over the car in P2 after 98 laps. The stop lasts four seconds longer because the rear wing is cleaned from rubber pick-up but Earl catches up quickly and overtakes the leading sister car in Turn 1 on lap 111. Earl pits for fuel only after 131 laps and retains the lead until overtaken by the sister car while avoiding a spinning LMP2 car. Still in P2 after 164 laps, Timo gets back in the car. A quick splash and dash on lap 197 brings him back in to the lead and after 204 laps, he takes the chequered flag to win his home race.
The Porsche LMP Team after the race
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “An Eifel hat-trick and the 15th overall race win for the 919 Hybrid only four weeks after our success at Le Mans – this is almost unbelievable. This outstanding result is another step towards our mission in defending both world championship titles. We managed to increase our points advantage and for me the most important thing is that the team can now enjoy a break and recover from the hard work over recent months. In Mexico, we will be refreshed and continue our mission.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “A race like today is something you normally can only dream of. Either crew would have deserved to win today. We have had two impeccably prepared cars that worked perfectly over the entire distance. Our six drivers performed at the highest level and at the same time acted as excellent team players. More than once today we had problems with rubber pick-up that got stuck in the bodywork. This caused changing performances of our cars until we were able to clean the parts again at the pit stops. Therefore, our cars swapped positions several times and our drivers always did a great job. Congratulations and a big thank you to everybody who was involved in getting our new high downforce aero kit in place. It made today’s one-two victory possible. The order at the end of the race is ideal for both championship standings and this has to be the priority for Porsche.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “I got into second but due to traffic lost that position to Brendon and chose not to defend too much. I was unlucky with traffic but that improved enabling me to attack, allowing me to have a nice clean but intense fight with the Toyota and Brendon. I got into the lead which I maintained despite a little [tyre] degradation.”
André Lotterer (35, Germany): “Initially I had a very good start and was on the better racing line but then Timo got ahead into Turn 1. During the first stint, Kamui Kobayashi, Timo and myself were all at the same speed and it was a lot of fun going through the traffic. It’s been a good day for Porsche with both cars really strong, exchanging the lead many times. Maybe our car could have taken the race win but we worked as a team with the championship in mind.”
Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain): “I had a couple of decent stints and I brought the car in for André in the lead which was good. It was tough out there as the Nürburgring track configuration makes for a busy time behind the wheel. A double stint is hot work and pretty physical. We found that rubber debris caused some problems today which caused a fluctuation in the car’s performance.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2
Earl Bamber (27, New Zealand): “I had a good couple of stints – kept a steady pace and took no risks. The car’s balance was really nice throughout – the guys gave us a great race car today. I had to take avoiding action when an LMP2 spun in front of me but that was my only slight drama. It’s been a nice Sunday afternoon drive.”
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “I had a good start and it was close fighting with Kamui and André. Advantages for one or another only came from traffic. Of course none of us wanted to risk too much in the first hour of the race. In the end it is a fantastic day for Porsche, recording a one-two race win on home soil. Either Porsche could have won today – it was very close from the start right through until the end.”
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): “I was really happy with my first stint. I took over from Timo and came out right behind the sister car but got ahead within a few laps. The car was feeling really strong initially and I took the lead from the Toyota and pulled a good gap. But halfway through the stint we lost some performance, maybe caused by pick-up with regards the front aero, but then right at the end the balance returned.”