Mixed start to the weekend for championship leader and title defender Porsche at the Nürburgring: Mark Webber (AU) achieved the overall fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:40.997 minutes. At the same time Romain Dumas (FR) went off the track because of a brake disc failure.

In bright sunshine, the reigning world champions and last year’s Nürburgring winners, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), came second and first respectively in the two 90-minute practice sessions. Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) with the sister car were fastest overall in the first session on the 5.148 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit, but dropped to fifth place in the second session because of the early stop.

Set-up work on the Porsche 919 Hybrid as planned

Team Principal Andreas Seidl: “The new aero package worked as we expected here at the Nürburgring so far and passed its performance test. All the drivers are happy with the balance of the cars. We have made another step forward, but our competitors also worked hard and were very competitive with close results. We did the set-up work on the number 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid as planned. Car number 2 had a failure of the front left brake disc during the second free practice that lead to an impact with a tyre wall. The damage to the car is minor and driver Romain Dumas was uninjured, which is the most important point. Let’s hope the weather stays nice and dry, but the forecast shows a lot of possibilities at the moment.”

As it heads into the six-hour race the Porsche Team is leading the manufacturers’ championship ahead of Audi and Toyota. The Le Mans winning drivers, Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), are leading the drivers’ world championship. The crew of the sister Porsche 919 Hybrid, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), has three unlucky races behind it and is more than keen to repeat last year’s race win at the Nürburgring.

A field of 33 race cars will compete in the Eifel. Prototypes and sports cars are divided into four classes, with the 919 Hybrid belonging to the top class for Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1). The 919 was developed in Weissach and produces a system power of over 662 kW (900 HP). Its combustion engine is a futuristic downsizing motor: the very compact two-litre V4 turbocharged petrol engine drives the rear axle with almost 368 kW (500 HP). Two different energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front and exhaust energy – feed a lithium ion battery that, on command, passes on the energy to an E machine to power the front axle with an extra boost of over 294 kW (400 HP).

Working flat out to further improve the 919 Hybrid

“We have had intense weeks since the breathtaking finish in Le Mans,” said Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, “with lots of appointments and events for the drivers. For example, the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the new Porsche Panamera’s world debut. Right after winning Le Mans Romain Dumas flew straight to the United States and went on to win the famous Pikes Peak hill climb in Colorado. At the same time, we were working flat out in Weissach to further improve the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Our target for the remaining six rounds is clear: We want to defend our titles in both the manufacturers’ and the drivers’ world championships.”

Team Principal Andreas Seidl pointed out: “Even during the intense time before and during Le Mans, the Weissach based development team was relentlessly working and finalised this year’s third aerodynamic package for high downforce. After a convincing four-day test in Barcelona, we have decided to run it at the Nürburgring. The data from the test, as well as the feedback from Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, was promising. The majority of the modifications are covered by the bodywork, while the new look of the car’s front is obvious. We are well aware of the strong competition and ready to attack.”

In the WEC three aero configurations per season may be homologated. Porsche started the season with the first spec, the second one was for low drag on the long straights of Le Mans. For now, with narrower circuits coming up, again a higher downforce level is required.

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