Porsche 919 Hybrid celebrates one-two victory at Nürburgring
Solid performance with brilliant Le Mans win
Fresh from its third consecutive Le Mans victory, Porsche managed to pull off a hat trick in the 6-hour race at Nürburgring.
It was also a repeat of the 2015 and 2016 race where Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley took podium, but this time in 2017, the winning duo were joined for the first time by Earl Bamber in winning this race.
This is the second win for the Porsche LMP Team in 2017, raking a total of 15 wins for the Porsche 919 Hybrid since its race debut in 2014.
The Porsche sister car driven by reigning world champion Neel Jani, André Lotterer and Nick Tandy came in second despite leading the race for a long time.
This marks the fifth one-two finish for Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with the last win in the 2015 Shanghai race.
Earl Bamber, driver for the number 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid said, “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.”
By now Porsche has already amassed 154 points in the manufacturers’ world championship with a comfortable lead of 39.5 points from Toyota.
For the drivers’ standing, Porsche drivers Bamber, Bernhard and Hartley have a total of 108 points with a lead of 30 points over Toyota’s best trio.
For the other Porsche drivers Jani, Lotterer and Tandy, they moved up to fourth position in the championship with 46 points.
The next and fifth race will resume after the summer break on September 3 in Mexico City.
According to Fritz Enzinger, LMP1 vice president, “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.”
Team principal Andreas Seidl said, “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 pickup 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.”
In what can be described as an almost superhuman effort, Porsche won the 2017 Le Mans 24-hour race as Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley caught up brilliantly and took Porsche’s 19th overall win for Porsche last June 18.
About 40 years ago, F1 champion and racing legend Jacky Ickx (BE), Jürgen Barth (DE) and Hurley Haywood (USA) came back in their Porsche 936 from position 42 to win the race.
Who would have thought Porsche will claw its way from position 54 to first place?
According to Oliver Blume, chairman of the Executive Board for Porsche AG, “What a dramatic race! A fight back from P54 to P1—who could have ever believed that this was possible?
“The Le Mans myth is alive, exactly because of such unbelievable stories like we experienced last weekend.”
Race fans thought it was a sure Toyota win as the 85th running of the world’s biggest and toughest car race started with a one-two lead for the Japanese auto maker while Porsche 919 Hybrid car number 2 suffered from an unfortunate setback.
At 6:30 p.m., the 919 of Bamber, Bernhard and Hartley was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop. It took one hour and five minutes to change the electric engine that drives the front axle.
The car re-joined the race at 7:35 p.m., 19 laps down on the race leader.
Then, number 8 Toyota pitted for lengthy repairs, number 7 stopped on track because of a clutch failure, and number 9 did the same after an accident in traffic.
At 00:45 a.m., Porsche 919 Hybrid’s car number 1 took the lead. However, the harsh noontime temperatures reaching as high as 39 degrees Celsius caused the number 1 car to suffer engine failure.
This gave the number 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid the opportunity to slowly close the gap.
At 12:50 p.m. on lap 330, Bernhard was back as the race leader. By lap 347, he had closed him down to take the checkered flag 20 laps later as the overall winner.
Just like 40 years ago, Porsche managed what seemed impossible at Le Mans.
This is how the six times overall winner Jacky Ickx, now 72 years old, remembers it: “After three hours, we thought we’d lost the race. My 936 was out, and I joined up with Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood. But they were having trouble as well. We were in 42nd place.
“I still can’t get my head around what happened next. It was this euphoric state. I drove the whole night at top speed, always on the limit. In rain and fog. I just got faster and faster. 42nd, 35th, 28th, 20th, ninth, sixth, fifth. Everyone felt that we could achieve the unimaginable.
“Jürgen and Hurley drove faster than ever, and the mechanics did an incredible job. I didn’t feel tired at all. Then we took the lead.
“On Sunday morning, I was totally spent. In the end, Jürgen hauled the 936 across the line with only five cylinders. I wouldn’t have been able to.
“There are a lot of great stories about a lot of races. But 1977 stands out. That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Races like that have made Porsche a legend.”