Porsche picked up where they left off at Nurburgring after winning Le Mans.
Porsche underlined their pace advantage in the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship at Nurburgring today by taking a 1-2 finish at its home track this afternoon.
The No.17 Porsche 919 Hybrid, crewed by Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley took their first WEC victory together after an assured performance in front of a massive crowd.
It was by no means a straightforward afternoon though as an early pit stop to change the front bodywork of the Porsche 919 Hybrid dropped them back to fourth place at one stage.
No. 18 fights back from penalties
The race had started with a sensational opening stint by the pole sitting No.18 919 Hybrid in the hands of Neel Jani. This momentum though was halted when the car was hit by a series of mid-race penalties for over use of its fuel allowance.
A total of 95-seconds in stop-go penalties was dished out to the No.18 car and briefly put off the lead lap. However a fantastic recovery drive by first Romain Dumas and then Jani ensured that both of the second and third placed Audi’s were quickly despatched.
Porsche had a big pace advantage during the race and exploited it to the maximum to score a second consecutive victory to further reduce the points gap to the No.7 Audi drivers. The No.8 crew of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval relinquished their first podium of the season when di Grassi let the No.7 Audi of Andre Lotterer through in the final stages to maximise the title leaders points.
An early right rear puncture for Marcel Fassler’s Audi R18 etron quattro compromised the team but subsequent stints from Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer brought it in to a comfortable second place as the race entered the final two hours.
A late race scrap for second place between the two Audi’s and the No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid ultimately saw the Porsche get ahead at the last pit stop, but not before some sensational racing between Jani, di Grassi and Treluyer.
The two Toyota TS 040s ran faultlessly throughout the six hour race but were never on the pace of Audi and Porsche. The Japanese manufacturer has ceased development of the current LMP1 car to focus completely on next years’ all-new TS 050 machine.
The No.1 Buemi/Nakajima and Davidson car headed home the No.2 Conway/Sarrazin/Wurz car in what was another low-key weekend for the team.
KCMG continue winning LMP2 form
The Le Mans winning KCMG ORECA 05-Nissan of Matt Howson/Nick Tandy and Richard Bradley continued where it left off at La Sarthe by taking a comfortable victory.
Converting a second consecutive pole position, the British trio were the class of the field but had to work hard to create an adequate gap at mid-distance. The KCMG car appeared to lose time at the second scheduled stop and lost the lead to the No.26 G-Drive Racing Ligier-Nissan of Roman Rusinov.
Rusinov’s lead was brief however; as Howson caught and passed the Russian at turn one. From there the KCMG LMP2 coupe was never headed and after Howson’s flawless stints, Richard Bradley extended the lead. Nick Tandy then climbed aboard the Hong Kong entered LMP2 car, and took the chequered flag well ahead of the G-Drive Racing pair, with the No.26 crew of Rusinov/Bird/Canal second and Derani/Gonzalez/Yacaman third.
A noteworthy fourth was the Team SARD Morand Morgan LMP2 of Oli Webb/Pierre Ragues and Archie Hamilton. The team fought back from having its car temporarily impounded on Friday, to equal its best WEC finish in Germany.
Porsche GT cars mirror prototypes with 1-2
It was a perfect day for Porsche as the LMGTE Pro class saw a dominant performance from the two Manthey entered Porsche 911 RSR cars.
The No.91 car driven by Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz led for the majority of the race and controlled the class in a faultless performance by the Danish/Austrian duo.
If the Christensen/Lietz car had been a trouble free run, the sister Manthey Porsche had a more volatile race. Frederic Makowiecki was adjudged to have jumped the start and was forced to take a drive-thru penalty.
Both Makowiecki and team mate Patrick Pilet got engaged in an entertaining scrap with the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia, driven by first James Calado and then Davide Rigon. The fight came to a head when a Full Course Yellow at mid-distance caught out Makowiecki who hit the back of the Ferrari, causing a puncture.
Another puncture dropped the Ferrari further behind and seemed to effectively end its charge to try and catch the No.91 Porsche. However, a drive-thru penalty for the incident, which was not confirmed until the final 25-minutes reduced the gap substantially at the chequered flag.
SMP on top in Am class
The LMGTE Am class was won by the SMP Racing Ferrari after a race long duel with both the No.98 Aston Martin and the No.77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche.
Ultimately, the SMP racing trio of Victor Shaytar/Andrea Bertolini and Alexei Basov had too much for the opposition and despite an early trip across the gravel, the Ferrari 458 Italia took its second consecutive win, after its Le Mans triumph in June.
Silverstone and Spa victors, the No.98 Aston Martin Racing crew of Mathias Lauda/Paul Dalla Lana and the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Rui Aguas/Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard completed the class podium, their fourth in succession. The Dempsey-Proton Racing trio of Patrick Dempsey/Patrick Long and Marco Seefried came home fourth.
The fifth round of the 2015 WEC takes place at COTA, Austin on 19th September.