The current season has so far seen a 919 on pole for every round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). On the 5.137 kilometre long Nürburgring track drivers Romain Dumas (FR) and Marc Lieb (DE) were the overall fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s six-hour race. The grid position right next to them was claimed by Timo Bernhard (DE) and Mark Webber (AUS) at the wheel of the sister car for the first ever German round of the WEC. Porsche, the 2015 Le Mans winner, maximised its chances to defend the lead in the manufacturers’ world championship in tomorrow’s race.
In the WEC the average of the best laps of two drivers counts for the grid position. Dumas/Lieb achieved an average time of 1:36.473 minutes with Lieb putting in the overall fastest lap with a time of 1:36.192 minutes. For Bernhard/Webber the clock stopped at 1.36,542 minutes. For the race Brendon Hartley (NZ, car number 17) and Neel Jani (CH, car number 18) complete the driver line-ups. In order to help qualifying preparation, these two did not drive in the third free practice session on Saturday morning either. That 60-minute practice saw both Porsche 919 Hybrids topping the time sheets, with car number 18 being quickest (1:36.036 min) and car number 17 coming second (1:36.647 min).
At the German premiere at the Nürburgring, the Porsche 911 RSR driven by Frenchmen Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki starts from the second grid row. The pair planted the Porsche Manthey-run 470 hp racer from Weissach, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports cars, on the fourth grid spot in the GTE-Pro class. Richard Lietz (Austria) and Michael Christensen (Denmark) achieved the fifth fastest time in the second 911 RSR.
In the GTE-Am class, American actor Patrick Dempsey tackles his first race on the 5.317-kilometre circuit in Germany’s hilly Eifel region from third at the wheel of the Porsche 911 RSR fielded by the Dempsey Racing customer team. His teammates are Porsche works driver Patrick Long (USA) and Marco Seefried (Germany). The 911 RSR campaigned by Abu Dhabi Proton Racing and crewed by Porsche factory pilot and Le Mans overall winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Christian Ried (Germany) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) qualified fifth.
Gymnastics star and Porsche guest of honour Marcel Nguyen enjoyed an in-depth look into motorsport. The two-time silver medallist of the London Olympic Games turned fast laps in a Porsche at the side of Le Mans winner Nico Hülkenberg and witnessed the qualifying from the Porsche Manthey pits.
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development: “First and second – this was a perfect job. In qualifying the intense development work and the new aerodynamic package paid off. We have every reason to be confident for the race.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “It is remarkable that over the summer break we not only managed to keep the performance of the car after winning Le Mans, but even improved it with a new aero package. It looks like a promising start to the second half of the season. Our target is to secure the manufacturers’ world championship title for Porsche.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “This is a great start for us. Qualifying was a perfect exercise by the entire team – mechanics, engineers and, of course, the drivers. We rotate all the drivers in qualifying and the fact that we have been on pole each time so far proves what a fantastic line-up this is. There was certainly a lot of pressure on us before our home race, and now we have to manage that in tomorrow’s race as well.”
Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Our qualifying strategy worked. We’ve prepared for the race and have opted for a different tyre strategy which is turning out to be right. We’re looking forward to a thrilling race.”
Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #92): “It wasn’t an easy qualifying but everything ran ac- cording to plan for us. We’ve only used one set of tyres and can start on totally fresh rubber. That is definitely an advantage. Our 911 RSR improved with every practice and that makes us very optimistic for the race.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #92): “We have a good and very consistent car for the race. We’re feeling very confident."
The six-hour race starts on Sunday at 13.00 hrs CEST. TV station Eurosport broadcasts the last race hour as well as the award ceremony live from 18.00 hrs CEST.