Home race for Le Mans winner Porsche – focussing on championship points

Porsche and endurance racing at the Nürburgring are a story of success.

Stuttgart. Porsche is going to race the 919 Hybrid for the first time on home soil. From August 28 to 30 the fourth of eight rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be held at the Nürburgring. The six-hour race in the Eifel mountains is the first ever appearance in Germany for the WEC which has run since 2012. In the field of 31 cars, Porsche is entering two of its Porsche 919 Hybrids in the top category LMP1 (class one Le Mans Prototypes).

The racing research laboratory for future sports car technology is powered by a downsizing two-litre V4-cylinder turbo charged petrol engine and an electric engine which is fed by two energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). This unique and ground-braking power train temporarily turns the 919 into a four-wheel drive car with around 1,000 hp system performance.

I always loved racing at the Nürburgring in F1.

Mark Webber

After two six-hour races, at Silverstone (GB) and Spa (BE), the Porsche 919 Hybrid went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14th. It was the 17th overall victory for Porsche at this endurance classic; no other brand has such a tally. For the winning drivers – Earl Bamber (NZ), Nico Hülkenberg (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) – Le Mans was the last race in a 919 at least for this season because Porsche doesn’t enter a third prototype in the remaining rounds of the World Championship. Nevertheless the original winners’ car will be at the Nürburgring, exhibited at the “Ring Boulevard”, and the drivers will be around too. Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR, class GTE Am) and Nick Tandy (Oreca 05, LMP2) race in the WEC while Nico Hülkenberg will be visiting the team.

On the race track Porsche retains its permanent driver line-up. The number 17 car will be shared by Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AUS). These three drivers came second at Le Mans to secure a one-two victory for Porsche. The number 18 sister car will be in the hands of the trio which won the first race ever with the 919 at the 2014 season finale in Brazil: Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE), pole setters at Le Mans this year.

In addition to the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s two race wins (Interlagos 2014, Le Mans 2015) the car has scored nine further podiums – four second and five third place finishes. The car has entered eleven races in total since the beginning of the 2014 season and started from pole position seven times. In 2015 so far, a 919 took pole in every race. At Le Mans the Porsche team even locked the grid with a one-two-three. After three out of eight rounds, and with the double points for the one-two victory in Le Mans, Porsche leads the manufacturers’ World Championship, 140 points ahead of Audi (124) followed by Toyota (71). In the drivers’ standings Dumas/Jani/Lieb are in fourth place, followed by Bernhard/Hartley/Webber in fifth.

After the three 919s at Le Mans appeared in three different colours, the two race cars are now white again. This is not the only visible change: around 80 per cent of the bodywork is new. An aerodynamic package for high downforce has replaced the Le Mans low downforce configuration.

Quotes before the race

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “We are looking forward to our home race at the Nürburgring very much. The WEC takes on the great heritage of the 1000 kilometre races, in which Porsche was so successful and we will see many fans and Porsche employees on site. The brand and the “Ring” have very close ties, not least because the neighbouring “Nordschleife” is still the ultimate test ground for our road-going sports cars. After we scored the one-two win at the season’s highlight at Le Mans, our focus is now on World Championship points.”

Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1: “For the 919, preparation for Le Mans was the first priority. The aero package with which we began the season in Silverstone was a targeted compromise on our way to the 24 Hours. Only when this configuration was in place, did we go on to develop an aero package with higher downforce for later. This was initially tested from August 18 to 20 at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona and will go racing for the first time at the Nürburgring.”

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We have been using the weeks after Le Mans for technical development work as well as implementing some structural changes we had planned. For months the team was working to the limits. Thanks to the additional manpower we took on board to prepare and operate the third car in Spa and at Le Mans, we have now been able to set up a test team. This should help to relieve the crew to a certain extend for the rest of the season. There are five six-hour races to come in which we will fight for every single championship point.”

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 17

Timo Bernhard (34, Germany): “I definitely have strong ties with the Nürburgring. This is because it is close to home but also due to the successes I have enjoyed there. Each of the five overall victories at the 24-Hours there was a milestone for me. Somehow things have often worked out for me in the Eifel mountains. In 2000/2001 I did four Carrera Cup races – and I won three of them from pole. There are some really challenging corners with some of them having camber hanging to the outside. You have to think carefully of how to position your car there. I like that. I’m sure our home race is going to be a great event.”

Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “We have high expectations for the rest of the season and the target has clearly moved to the World Championship. We had a successful test at the Nürburgring and the boys and girls in Weissach have been working hard on updates for the race. I personally love the Nürburgring track and considering Mark won there convincingly in F1, and Timo has fond memories of winning the 24-Hours at the Nordschleife five times, I think it's fair to say we are excited and confident about racing there. I'm also sure we will see many Porsche fans turn up to see us compete on home soil.”

Mark Webber (38, Australia): “I always loved racing at the Nürburgring in F1. I won my first Grand Prix there in 2009 which, of course, was incredibly special for me. The Nürburgring has got character about it, with some old school camber changes and old kerbs. The best part is turns 5 and 6, the fast left which goes into the tight right. It will be interesting to take the 919 Hybrid around there and see how it fares compared to the F1 car. In the Eifel mountains the weather is often unpredictable and you have to be on your toes and make quick decisions to respond to the changing and tricky track conditions. It is also Porsche’s home race and I think the support is going to be pretty amazing for the team. The fans there have always been very passionate about motorsport and there is a lot going on in the campsites around the track with BBQs and parties.”

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 18

Romain Dumas (37, France): “I’m very much looking forward to finally get into the 919 again after the long break. The track with its many corners and less straights is not going to be an easy task for us. I hope the new high downforce aero package helps us to stand the strong competition. After we have had such a difficult race in Le Mans because of balance problems, the gang from car number 18 wants to get in more good results like we did early in the season.”

Neel Jani (31, Switzerland): “14 years ago, when I was only 17, I had my first race at the Nürburgring and then went there again and again. It was kind of typical for the Eifel region that at the test at the end of July it was rather cold and sometimes wet. Let’s see what we get for the race. For sure the 919 will be well prepared and our car number 18 crew wants revenge for the disappointment of Le Mans. Before we were unlucky at the 24-Hours where we started from pole, we had two good races. We want to fight for the World Championship.”

Marc Lieb (35, Germany): “I really can’t wait to be with the WEC at the Nürburgring. The track has great tradition and for me just belongs to the World Championship calendar. I like the circuit very much and we have had a good test there. It will be an exciting race, because lapping slower cars is relatively difficult. The track layout has lots of corners but hardly any long straights for overtaking. Personally I have very close ties with the Nürburgring. Be it the 24-Hours or product development – the track has played a strong part in my Porsche career.”

Porsche

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WEC
Event Nürburgring
Track Nürburgring
Drivers Mark Webber , Timo Bernhard , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Neel Jani , Brendon Hartley
Teams Porsche Team
Article type Preview