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).
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.
Quotes 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.”
More quotes in the press release (downloads).
A successful home race for the new Porsche 911 RSR: The racer, designed and built by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach for this season, claimed two podium places. In the #91 vehicle, Richard Lietz (Austria) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) secured second place in the fiercely contested GTE-Pro class on the Eifel circuit. At the wheel of the second 911 RSR (#92) fielded by the Porsche GT Team, Michael Christensen (Denmark) and Kévin Estre (France) finished on third in front of 52,000 spectators. In the GTE-Am class, the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) celebrated his first win in the world championship with the 911 RSR run by the Dempsey Proton Racing customer squad.
Dark clouds hung over the Grand Prix circuit of the Nürburgring as the 29 contenders took off into the six-hour race. However, the dreaded changeable Eifel weather stayed away. The odd raindrop had no influence on the race. Despite taking up the race from pole position, Michael Christensen was unable to hold his front spot and fell back to fourth place in the first lap after making a braking error. However, his teammate Frédéric Makowiecki moved up into position two and later even took the lead. After the first round of pit stops, the old qualifying order was restored: Kévin Estre led the strongly represented GT field with the #92 car, with the #91 vehicle driven by Richard Lietz running third. Implementing different pit stop strategies, the team colleagues swapped positions several times over the course of the race, and by half way a 911 RSR was still holding its own at the front of the field. This changed only two and a half hours before the finish, when the Ferrari pulled ahead. From this point on, the 911 RSR put in consistent lap times to maintain a commanding second and third, and remained out of reach to the flag for the rest of the GT field.
In the GTE-Am class, in which Porsche customer teams fielded the 911 RSR from the 2015 model year, Dempsey Proton Racing celebrated its first win of the season. Sharing the cockpit of the #77 racer was the Porsche Young Professional Matteo Cairoli (Italy) with Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst from Germany. After their third place at the season opening round at Silverstone and second at Spa, they followed the law of series and took the flag as the winners.
Comments on the race
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “We witnessed an excellent race today. The situation in the GT classes was extremely competitive, which was fantastic for the fans. In the GTE-Pro class, we’re talking about an average of less than three-tenths of a second per lap that made the difference. We’re very happy to have secured second and third place. The first win for the new 911 RSR is within reach. We’re also particularly thrilled about our Young Professional Matteo Cairoli, who claimed his first WEC victory in the GTE-Am class with our customer team Dempsey Proton Racing. Considering the success of the 919 Hybrid this weekend, it was virtually a perfect Nürburgring weekend for Porsche.”
More quotes in the press release (downloads).
1. Calado/Pier Guidi (I/I), Ferrari 488 GTE, 179 laps
2. Lietz/Makowiecki (A/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 179
3. Christensen/Estre (DK/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 179
4. Thiim/Soerensen (DK/DK), Aston Martin, 178
5. Priaulx/Tincknell (GB/GB), Ford GT, 178
6. Mücke/Pla (D/F), Ford GT, 178
7. Turner/Adam/Serra (GB/GB/BRA), Aston Martin, 178
8. Rigon/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GTE, 173
1. Ried/Cairoli/Dienst (D/I/D), Porsche 911 RSR, 174 laps
2. Flohr/Castellacci/Molina (CH/I/P), Ferrari 488 GTE, 174
3. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda (CAN/P/A), Aston Martin, 174
4. Mok/Sawa/Griffin (MYS/J/IRL), Ferrari 488 GTE, 173
5. Wainwright/Barker/Foster (GB/GB/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 173
After the summer break, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will take place on September 3rd in Mexico City.