Porsche put another hat trick in the record books by winning their third in a row 6 Hours of Nürburgring having taken the top spot in both 2015 and ’16.
Timo Bernhard (DE), Earl Bamber (NZ) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) put the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid into the lead for the final time after a quick splash and dash on lap 197, but in all honesty either of the 919’s could have won the race. Finishing a mere 1.606 seconds ahead of the sister, a 1-2 for Porsche on home soil can only be a good thing, one would hope, in front of the Board that is to announce the future of the LMP1 programme later this month.
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal said after the race: “A race like today is something you normally can only dream of. Either crew would have deserved to win today. More than once today we had problems with rubber pick-up that got stuck in the bodywork. This caused changing performances of our cars until we were able to clean the parts again at the pit stops. Therefore, our cars swapped positions several times and our drivers always did a great job. Congratulations and a big thank you to everybody who was involved in getting our new high downforce aero kit in place. It made today’s one-two victory possible. The order at the end of the race is ideal for both championship standings and this has to be the priority for Porsche.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing finished 3rd, a first podium position for the Cologne based team. The #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José Maria López finished just over a minute behind the #1 Porsche having lead from the start for the first hour and making the Porsche 919’s work for their money, however a drop in aerodynamic performance later during the race affected both cars ruling out a win for the #7.
Disaster struck for the #8 before it even managed to complete a lap; a fuel pump issue when pulling away for the green flag lap meant a slow crawl round to the pits (and an additional lap behind the safety car for the rest of the field) emerging some 8 minutes later and 5 laps down.
Worthy of a mention is the #4 Bykolles Racing which finished the 6 hour race, albeit some 22 laps off the leader, but nonetheless it was good to see if out there for the race duration!
It was yet another win for the ‘Mighty 38’ of DC Jackie Chan Racing, making it four podiums out of four. Oli Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent had just over a lap lead by the end of the 6 hours and are currently in the studio having cut outs made for the rest of the seasons podium celebrations!
There was much position swapping through the LMP2 class, with the #31 Vaillante Rebellion of Canal, Senna and Albuquerque taking a closely fought second place over the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut of Lapierre, Menezes and Rao.
GTE Pro and Am provided much of the action throughout the race, with some stunning moves, and the odd little love tap!
The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi took its maiden win of the season, ahead of a pair of battling Porsche 911 RSR’s. The Ferrari took the lead during the third hour and a perfect strategy saw them to the chequered flag. Despite taking Porsche’s first GT pole, Michael Christensen in the #92 fell down to fourth on the first lap but the #92 worked its way back up through the field, swapping places along the way with its sister car, to finally finish 3rd behind the #91 of Lietz and Makowiecki.
Taking the top step of the Am class was the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche 911 RSR (991) of Reid, Cairoli and Dienst, a mere 4.607 seconds ahead of the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE of Flohr, Castellacci and Molina. Rounding up the podium positions was the #98 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage of Dalla Lana, Lamy and Lauda, but it really could have been anyone’s victory!
The first half of the race also the Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE battling for the top spot with some great stints from Matt Griffin, who posted the fastest LMGTE Am time of 1:58.100 on lap 68. Kieta Sawa also had some great battles, and was giving the Pro guys a run for their money for a while.
Sadly a spin and trip through the gravel at the Ford Kurve for Weng Sun Mok cost the team a lot of time, and they ended up p4 overall. But importantly the Singaporean team head off to Mexico still leading the Championship.
After a summer break, the FIA WEC wagon rolls into Mexico 1-3 September… see you there!