It was Porsche, Porsche at the World Endurance Championship's Six Hours of Nurburgring as Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber took their second win of the season in the No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid. André Lotterer, Neel Jani and Nick Tandy ensured a Porsche 1-2 at the company's home event finishing second after leading for large periods of the race.
The Porsche duo were rarely more than four or five seconds apart during the entire race which saw the lead change hands numerous times. In the fourth hour, Bamber lost the lead to his fellow 2015 Le Mans winner Nick Tandy, after having to take avoiding action when Tor Graves spun his CEFC Manor TRS Racing LMP2 car in front of the Kiwi at the chicane.
But it was the final pit stop of the race the made the difference. When Lotterer pitted the No.1 the last time for fuel the stop took nearly a full minute as the team set up the No.2 to win the race. Several laps later Bernhard brought the No.2 in for a splash of fuel which took only half the time the No.2 spent in the pits. When Bernhard emerged from pit lane and back onto the race course he was had a comfortable lead.
“I had a good start and it was close fighting with Kamui and André." said Bernhard "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.”
The pole position-winning No.7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López earned the team’s first Nürburgring podium with third place after leading the early stages and setting the fastest lap of the race. However, it was a tough start for the Toyota team as the No.8 car of Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima suffered early technical trouble when a fuel pump problem prevented Buemi from taking the starting flag. After a very slow formation lap, he was forced to pit to fit a new fuel pump, losing eight minutes and five laps and going on to finish fourth on a day.
“Clearly that was a disappointing race for us." said Buemi "We could’t fight at the front due to the problem at the start; all we could do was keep going and get as many points as possible for the championship. Now we need to move on and focus on the next races where we expect to be more competitive.”
In LMP2 the Jackie Chan DC Racing team won their third in four races with the Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung No.38 ORECA-Gibson. They led for the majority of the race after wresting the lead from the No.31 Vaillante Rebellion. Jarvis, Tung and Laurent’s hat-trick of wins so far in 2017 ensures they now enjoy a huge 46-point in the LMP2 Drivers' Championship.
Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and Julien Canal led in the No.31 for the Vaillante Rebellion team early on but lost out to Oliver Jarvis in traffic took second position for the third time this season. Completing the podium was the reigning LMP2 champions, the No.36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Matt Rao.
In LMGTE Pro the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE driven by James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi took their first win of the season. Calado took the lead from the No.92 Porsche with an incisive move and then built an impressive lead helping Ferrari to a second class win of the season.
Porsche took second and third places, the best race weekend of the season with the new-look 911 RSR model. The No.91 car of Fréderic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz finished second ahead of the third placed No.92 sister car of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen by just eight seconds.
In LMGTE Am saw Dempsey-Proton Racing finishing on the top step of the podium. Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst held off the Spirit of Race Ferrari and Aston Martin Racing for Dienst's and Cairoli's first ever WEC wins. The Dempsey-Proton team out raced the Aston Martin Vantage of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana and the Spirit of Race Ferrari of Miguel Molina, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr. The winning margin for the Dempsey Proton Porsche was just 4.3 seconds as the class provided another nail-biting finish.
Said Cairoli after the race, “To secure my first win in the WEC at Porsche’s home race is fantastic. I’m super happy and very grateful to Porsche and Dempsey Proton Racing for giving me the chance to compete in such a top-league championship with the 911 RSR. A dream came true for me today. The last laps with the Ferrari breathing down my neck were the toughest in my racing career. I knew that he was only seconds behind me. Thank you to the entire team and to my teammates for their tremendous support.”
The next round of the Championship will be the 6 Hours of Mexico in Mexico City on 3rd September.
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