Kiwi victory at Nurburgring
Fresh off a remarkable win at Le Mans, Kiwi drivers Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber and their Porsche team achieved the third win in a row at the six-hour race at Nurburgring.
Palmerston North’s Hartley and Whanganui’s Bamber, along with German team-mate Timo Bernhard finished on top of the podium at the famous German track yesterday, with Hartley and Bernhard having been in the team that has won the event for the past two years, while it was a first for Bamber.
The trio pulled off a come-frombehind win at 24 Hours of Le Mans in France last month, the first time a Kiwi has been on the podium since 1966, when motorsport legends Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon won.
So the Nurburgring win was the second race triumph for the Porsche LMP Team this year and the 15th for the 919 Hybrid since its debut in 2014.
The sister Porsche car with reigning world champion Neel Jani (Switzerland), Andre Lotterer (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) finished second, having led the race for a long time.
Hartley’s team started in third place on the grid and their sister car second, with a Toyota car on pole.
After a close opening 40 laps, the two Porsche cars overtook the Toyota, with Hartley at the wheel when he took them into the lead.
After that the two Porsche cars took turns leading, before Bernhard hit the front on lap 197, then he took the chequered flag on the 204th lap.
‘‘I had a good couple of stints – kept a steady pace and took no risks,’’ Bamber, 27, said. ‘‘The car’s balance was nice throughout – the guys gave us a great race car today.
‘‘I had to take avoiding action when an LMP2 spun in front of me but that was my only slight drama.’’
The 27-year-old Hartley said: ’’I was really happy with my first stint. I took over from Timo and came out right behind the sister car but got ahead within a few laps.
‘‘The car was feeling really strong initially and I took the lead from the Toyota and pulled a good gap. But halfway through the stint we lost some performance, maybe caused by pick-up with regards the front aero, but then right at the end the balance returned.’’
This outcome marks the fifth onetwo FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) race result for Porsche, the last dating back to the 2015 Shanghai race.
After light rain in the morning, the fourth of nine championship rounds was held in dry conditions.
Porsche has now scored 154 points in the manufacturers’ world championship with a 39.5 points gap to Toyota.
In the drivers’ rankings, BamberBernhard-Hartley have 108 points, earning them an 30-point advantage over the best-placed Toyota trio.
Meanwhile Jani-Lotterer-Tandy team move up to fourth position in the championship (46 points).
After the summer break, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship is in Mexico City on September 3.
The Porsche team of Earl Bamber (New Zealand), left, Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) on the podium with their trophies after winning the six-hour race at Nurburgring.