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18.11.2017    Three time Le Mans winners bid a fond farewell to the WEC

With two podium finishes at the last round in Bahrain, the Porsche LMP Team bid a fond farewell to the FIA World Endurance Championship. Drivers Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ), who were crowned world champions two weeks ago, finished second in what was an incident filled and highly emotional 2017 finale. This year’s Le Mans winners dropped behind after an early incident but impressively fought back. The sister car, shared by Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) started from pole position but also suffered a set-back after a collision and a subsequent penalty. Lotterer clocked the fastest race lap and finished in third position after six hours of racing. Toyota won the night race.

Timo Bernhard improves from third to second at the start but on lap three runs over a bollard that lies on track. The bollard gets stuck underneath the car but was not obvious during the safety car period. At the end of lap seven, Bernhard pits to get the bollard removed and the nose changed, taking on fuel as well. He loses almost one lap. After 37 laps, running fourth, he hands over to Brendon Hartley. He refuels after 68 laps, still in P4. During a “Full Course Yellow” at the end of lap 96 he hands over the car to Earl Bamber who gets fresh tyres and improves to P3 because the number 7 Toyota is being repaired after a collision. He refuels after 127 laps and continues in P3. With 150 race laps completed, Bernhard gets back into the car. He refuels after 177 laps for the last time. The driver who did the initial laps with the very first test chassis of the Porsche 919 Hybrid back in 2013 also covers the last miles. One lap down to the race winner, he comes home in second place.

With this race, that was green flagged by Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board of Volkswagen AG, one of the most successful chapters of Porsche’s motorsport history comes to an end. From 2015 to date, the Porsche LMP Team took three consecutive Le Mans outright victories plus three successive manufacturers’ world championship titles while Porsche 919 Hybrid drivers won the drivers’ world championship title on three occasions. Since the 919’s debut in 2014, the tally from 34 races is 17 wins with seven of them being one-two victories. Furthermore 20 pole positions and 13 fastest race laps were achieved.

“I had a good start, got past one Toyota and kept up with Neel,” said Timo. “But then unfortunately I picked up that bollard and the extra stop dropped us far behind. That was a real shame. But the race result is secondary today. It is the end of great era. I’m honoured having been part of this programme from the very beginning until the last lap. A great crew, great people and great team mates. I will miss them. This programme definitely is the highlight of my career.”

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