Nick Tandy and Joerg Bergmeister finished fourth at COTA in the Porsche 911 RSR
Stuttgart. After a strong qualifying performance and a long time in the lead in the race the two Porsche 919 Hybrids only finished fourth and fifth in the six-hour race on Saturday. Car number 14, driven by Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany), was leading the race for a long time, but suffered problems at the end and finished just in front of its sister car in Austin, Texas (USA). Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) brought their number 20 car home in fifth place after an action packed fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), which was held half at night.
In the GTE - Pro class, the Porsche 911 RSR finished second in the GTE-Pro class. At the action-packed fourth round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC, the French Porsche works drivers Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki looked like they might even bring home their second win of the season for the Porsche Manthey squad in front of 50.000 spectators. But although they held the lead until shortly before the finish, they were ultimately beaten to the flag after a spirited fight by a mere 16 seconds.
LMP1 - Porsche 919 Hybrid
Starting drivers Dumas (P2) and Webber (P3) lost ground in the early stages of the race. They were running fifth and sixth when they came in for their first pit stops. After the first 100 minutes rain set in and led to chaos. On a track that was suddenly flooded half a dozen cars spun off and became stranded, with car number 20 and Timo Bernhard at the wheel being one of them. The race was red flagged and stopped for 45 minutes.
At the restart behind the safety car Jani was at the wheel of car number 14, and was third in the race on slick intermediate tires. He soon took the lead, and after 105 laps handed over to Lieb who went out on slicks. After the final stop for fuel after 133 laps a loss of engine power forced him to drop back to fourth.
Bernhard in the number 20 sister car was able to continue after the red flag and after he had been rescued from the gravel and changed to full wet tires, but he also switched to slick intermediate tires as well. On lap 90 he was lying fourth and handed over to Hartley. For the last 30 minutes Webber returned to the car and finally crossed the line in fifth.
Wolfgang Hatz, Board member for Research and Development Porsche AG: "Until shortly before the end it was a very encouraging weekend for us in which we were fighting for the race win. The team did a great job and it is a shame it has been unrewarded."
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: "Unfortunately we did not manage to turn the development work of the recent months and the good qualifying result into the amount of championship points we wanted. Similar to what happened in Le Mans, we had chances to get a podium, perhaps even a race win. We will carefully analyse what has led to the loss of power in car number 14 and get prepared for Fuji."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "The outcome of the race is obviously disappointing. It was hard work and mixed conditions. In the beginning of the race, when it was dry and hot, we could not go at the same pace as the leaders, but in the rain we have been surprisingly strong. For the restart we split strategies to increase our chances. The decision to put slick intermediate tyres on car number 14 enabled us to take the lead. In the end a problem in the powertrain cost us a podium finish."
Drivers car no. 14
Romain Dumas (36, France): "In the beginning we suffered a bit because of the high temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius. On a clear lap it was good, but in traffic we had too much understeer."
Neel Jani (30, Switzerland): "When the rain set in it was completely crazy. Initially it was only wet in one corner, but then suddenly the circuit was flooded everywhere. I came uphill and then just slid away - through a gravel bed, onto the grass and back on track. The decision to restart on slick intermediate tyres paid off. I hoped the track would dry out quickly because of the heat, and then I managed to really take care of those tyres. I was leading by more than half a minute when I handed the car over. Our strategic decisions were all right, the team did a great job."
Marc Lieb (34, Germany): "This was a tough fight. Romain and Neel did a great job. It was super to take over the Porsche 919 Hybrid as the leading car. After my pit stop the engine suddenly lost power and, therefore, I couldn't defend the lead in the end. The team did a great job in preparing the car, we really deserved a podium."
Drivers car no. 20
Timo Bernhard (33, Germany): "It wasn't my day today. My stint began well before the drizzle started. I went for slick intermediate tyres but when I left the pit lane it suddenly became heavy rain. I found myself floating, I was just a passenger. Then for the restart behind the safety car we went on the safe side and took full wet tyres, but this was a disadvantage. Later with the slick intermediate tyres it was all fine. However, that's racing."
Brendon Hartley (24, New Zealand): "When I took over from Timo we were already one lap down. The Porsche 919 Hybrid has left a strong impression, I enjoyed driving both in the day and night. At some point I hit a big part of debris on the track, which compromised the car's aerodynamics a bit."
Mark Webber (38, Australia): "In the beginning it was a good battle with the Audi, but they have clearly been more comfortable in traffic and could easily pick various different lines. Temporarily I also did not have the full boost, but we were able to fix this while I was running. We have definitely learnt a lot in the high temperatures of the early part of the race and also later in the stints."
Race result 6 hours of Austin (Texas):
1. Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer (CH/D/F), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, 157 laps
2. Di Grassi/Duval/Kristensen (BRA/F/DK), Audi R18 e-tron quattro, - 53,016 s.
3. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, - 1:03,945 min
4. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche 919 Hybrid, - 1 lap
5. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche 919 Hybrid, - 2 laps
6. Wurz/Sarrazin/Conway (A/F/GB), Toyota TS040 Hybrid, - 2 laps
FIA World Endurance Champonship (WEC) after 4 of 8 rounds,
1. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi (GB/F/CH), Toyota, 96 points
2. Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler (D/F/CH), Audi, 85
3. Di Grassi/ Kristensen (BRA/DK), Audi, 72
4. Prost/Heidfeld/Beche (F/D/CH), Rebellion, 48
5. Dumas/Jani/Lieb (F/CH/D), Porsche, 45
6. Wurz/Sarrazin (A/F), Toyota, 43
7. Duval (F), Audi, 36
8. Gené (E), Audi, 36
9. Nakajima (J), Toyota, 35
10. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber (D/NZ/AUS), Porsche, 25,5
1. Audi, 157
2. Toyota, 139
3. Porsche, 82
GTE Pro and Am - Porsche 911 RSR
The race on the Grand Prix circuit on the outskirts of Austin Saturday afternoon started under hot and humid weather conditions. Shortly before nightfall, torrential rain quickly flooded large sections of the race track. As a result the race had to be stopped. After the restart 45 minutes later, Porsche's factory pilot Nick Tandy (Great Britain) took over the lead. At the wheel of the second Porsche Manthey-run 911 RSR which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car and in which he shared driving duties with Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) for the first time, Tandy held the top position up until 85 minutes before the flag. He then lost two laps when his vehicle failed to start after a pit stop due to an electrical problem, and finally saw the flag in fourth place.
For all four Porsche works drivers, this was their second race of the day: Previously they had contested the Tudor United SportsCar Championship in the 911 RSR fielded by Porsche North America.
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: "When you consider the incredible level of competition in the GT classes you realize just how good our results are. I take my hat off to our drivers who contested two races this weekend under very difficult conditions. And that also applies to those in the pit crew who worked both races. Obviously it's very disappointing not to finish at the front, but we can build on all the efforts that the drivers and team put in today."
Patrick Pilet (#92): "Our car handled the wet track very well. We were able to take the lead and even build up a bit of a margin. But once the track dried up we had no chance against the Aston Martin. Still, we achieved a podium result and earned those all-important points. Overall, it was a tough weekend and physically very exhausting with two races under not so easy conditions. First it was hot and humid, then the rain came. But we all did our very best and we scored a good result for Porsche."
Frédéric Makowiecki (#92): "That was a tough race and we can be happy with the result. We've earned some good points towards the championship."
Jörg Bergmeister (#91): "Nick did a great job, and so did the team. The pit stops were all perfect. Unfortunately we experienced a minor electrical problem in the final phase and from then on we were out of contention for a win."
Nick Tandy (#91): "For much of the race everything ran according to plan. We implemented our strategy perfectly and were on course to win. If the problem hadn't have cropped up we would have stayed at the front. For me personally, today was really hard. I was leading in both races - and still didn't win. That's really disappointing, but we will continue to fight."
In the GTE-Am class, Christian Ried (Germany), Klaus Bachler (Austria) and Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi) also claimed a podium place with third in the Porsche 911 RSR of the Proton Competition customer team.
The fifth of eight races in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC will be contested on 12 October in Fuji/Japan.
1. Turner/Mücke (GB/D), Aston Martin Vantage, 141 laps
2. Makowiecki/Pilet (F/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 141
3. Bruni/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 458 Italia, 141
4. Bergmeister/Tandy (D/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 139
5. Rigon/Calado (I/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 137
6. MacDowall/O'Young/Rees (GB/HK/BRA), Aston Martin Vantage, 137
1. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard (CDN/P/DK), Aston Martin Vantage, 138 laps
2. Poulsen/Hansson/Stanaway (DK/DK/NZ), Aston Martin Vantage, 138
3. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi (D/A/UAE), Porsche 911 RSR, 137
4. Perez Companc/Cioci/Venturi (ARG/I/I), Ferrari F 458 Italia, 137
5. Roda/Ruberti/Segal (I/I/USA), Ferrari F458 Italia, 136
6. Krohn/Jönsson/Collins (USA/S/GB), Ferrari F458 Italia, 135