Race report after five hours.
Stuttgart. After five of the 24 hours of Le Mans the Porsche Team ranks third and sixth with the two Porsche 919 Hybrid.
In the late afternoon and early evening both prototypes had cought up with Timo Bernhard and Neel Jani still at the wheel. Improvements were thanks to good pit stop strategy and great driver efforts in difficult conditions. At the restart after the first safety car period both cars had to survive about two laps on rain tyres on a drying track before the next shower came. Further accidents required a second safety car period. After this, short before 18:00 h, Timo Bernhard took the lead.
At 18:17 h Timo handed over the leading car no. 20 to Brendon Hartley. Meanwhile track conditions allowed for slick tyres. Neel Jani had improved from the back of the pack to 15th position. At 18:20 h he jumped out an Marc Lieb took over. Brendon and Neel later came both for regular stops for refueling. Brendon, however, also came for an unscheduled pit stop at 19:33 h when he had the feeling of a slow puncture. He dropped back to third place. Marc had further improved to sixth when he brought car number 14 for refueling again short before 20:00 h.
Timo Bernhard (Germany): “In the opening phase the car felt quite tricky to drive but that improved after a few laps. We were really fast in the rain and employed the right strategy. My experience from several years at Le Mans helped me a lot during this stage of the race, but it was still extremely difficult. We had all kinds of conditions out there that you could imagine, from zero vision to completely dry track, and everything in between. All this within one single lap. That was absolutely crazy, I have never experienced anything like it. Only on the Nürburgring Nordschleife have I ever seen similar conditions, if at all. All in all it was a really good stint. To put a Porsche in front of this race for the first time after the comeback was definitely a great moment. Now we have to make sure that we keep doing a zero-error job.”
Neel Jani (Switzerland): “It was extremely difficult out on the track. At the start we had a little fight against a Toyota and an Audi. Then I settled on position four. Especially in the last sector they were a lot faster than me, I really had to fight. And then came this silly one-penny failure with the fuel system. That was a real shame. The guys were able to fix it quite quickly. During the rain our only aim was to keep the car on the track. We will keep on pushing, then we might still get our break to get closer to the front.”