Porsche's long awaited return to endurance racing in the LMP1 class of the WEC kicked off this weekend at the famed circuit at Silverstone, Great Britain. Spectators witnessed a gripping race with changeable weather conditions from start to finish. The 919 Hybrid Le Mans Prototype earned podium (third place) in its first race of the season and the 911 RSR was unbeatable in the GTE-Pro class finishing 1st and 2nd in their class despite heavy rains and a red-flag 20+ minutes before the scheduled finish. Porsche's full race report follows the pictures below.
Porsche LMP1 Class Race Report
Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) came in 3rd in the Porsche 919 Hybrid after 165 laps on the 5.891 kilometer long track. The race was red flagged because of heavy rain 24 minutes before the planned six hours were completed. Webber brought the car home behind the safety car.
“It's been a brilliant day for us. I'm happy to have played a small role in the effort that's gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point. Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn't their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tires is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases. It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”, said Webber.
The sister car of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) had to retire after 1 hour 15 minutes because of a technical problem. Overall victory went to Toyota drivers Sébastien Buemi (CH), Anthony Davidson (GB) and Nicolas Lapierre (FR).
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director for Porsche's LMP1 had this to say about the #14 car leaving the race early. “Considering how complex this completely new technology is, it is very positive to have finished the race with one car. The no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid ran trouble free. We will have to have a long look into the reasons for the retirement of car no. 14.”
Porsche GTE Class Race Report
Taking up the race from the first grid row at the wheel of the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, Nick Tandy took the GT lead for the first time in lap eleven. A stop-and-go penalty, which his teammate Joerg Bergmeister served after the driver change, saw them lose their lead for just a brief time. Over the remainder of the race, the 470 hp winning racers from Weissach, based on the seventh generation of the 911 sports car, swapped positions often for the lead spot. In the end it was newcomer Frédéric Makowiecki who settled at the front of the pack and brought home this important maiden win of the season at his very first race as a Porsche factory driver.
Porsche's newest factory driver Frédéric Makowiecki [Mako] had this to say about the experience, “That is exactly how I imagined my first race as a Porsche works driver. What a great race, but it was really challenging. We started on a dry track, then it began to rain which made our tire choice difficult. We changed the rubber quickly without losing too much time. Even switching back to slicks went without losing much time thanks to our swift pit crew. A big compliment to our whole team. That was a great job.”
Mako's factory pilot colleagues Patrick Pilet (France), Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) finished the hotly-contested race in second place.
“There are for sure worse things for a race driver than to start the season in second place behind his teammates. I’m pleased. My stint was real fun, apart from the stop-and-go penalty that was handed to Nick of course. But our car ran so well on slicks that I reclaimed the lead relatively quickly. That was somehow my weather today. I really enjoy driving on slicks under such changeable conditions. That’s definitely one of my strengths.”, said Joerg Bergmeister.
Round two of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC takes place on 3 May at Spa-Francorchamps/Belgium.
Race result, LMP1, 6 hrs of Silverstone
1. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 167 laps
2. Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima (A/F/J), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, 1 lap behind
3. Bernhard/Webber/Hartley (D/AUS/NZ), Porsche 919 Hybrid, 2 laps behind
4. Heidfeld/Prost/Beche (D/F/CH), Lola B12/60-Toyota, 8 laps behind
5. Pla/Canal/Rusinov (F/F/RUS), Morgan-Nissan, 13 laps behind
6. Bradley/Howson/Matsuda (GB/GB/J), Oreca 03-Nissan, 15 laps behind
1. Holzer/Makowiecki//Lietz (D/F/A), Porsche 911 RSR, 147 laps
2. Bergmeister/Pilet/Tandy (D/F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 147
3. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin Vantage, 147
4. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 458 Italia, 147
5. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 146
6. Griffin/Parente (IRL/P), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 146
1. Poulsen/Hansson/Thiim (DK/DK/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 144 laps
2. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard (CDN/P/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 144
3. Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird (AUS/I/GB), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 143
4. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi (D/A/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 142
5. Mowlem/Patterson/Collins (GB/USA/GB), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 141
6. Perez Companc/Cioci/Venturi (ARG/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 141
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