05.11.2017    Bernhard, Bamber, and Hartley are the new long-distance kings

Every year since 2015, Porsche factory drivers have pocketed the drivers’ title in the FIA World Endurance Championship with the 919 Hybrid Le Mans prototype. Finishing second at today’s six-hour race in Shanghai, Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) succeeded the previous title winners Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE). This marks the second driver’s world championship in the WEC for Bernhard and Hartley after 2015. With twelve race victories between them, the two are the most successful long-distance drivers in WEC history: they clinched their first world championship title in 2015 with Mark Webber (AU).

The race took place on a consistently dry track with ambient temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius. The abrasive tarmac of the Chinese Formula One circuit was a decisive factor as normal.  

For a short time after the start, Earl Bamber manages to improve to third position but then has to let the faster number 8 Toyota go and finds himself back in fourth. When the other Porsche has its technical issue, Bamber goes into third. He refuels after 30 laps and after 61 laps, hands over to Brendon Hartley, who gets fresh tyres. After 76 laps the car is refuelled under Full Course Yellow. Three laps later Hartley is almost forced off track by a LMP2 car. There is contact but with no major damage. Having 107 laps completed, Hartley refuels again. The tyres stay on the car but the front hood is changed to get rid of pick up. On lap 126 Hartley is lapped by the leading number 8 Toyota. After 137 laps for the number 2 car, Hartley hands over to Timo Bernhard who continues on fresh tyres. He refuels after 166 laps (race lap 167) and gets promoted to P2 when the number 7 Toyota has its unscheduled repair stop.

“The second world championship title – this is kind of crazy and difficult to put in words,” said Timo. “It is an honour to drive for the Porsche LMP Team and the brand, it is mega. I am relieved that we have secured both titles here. Now we can face Bahrain a little more relaxed. My stint was good but of course we knew a third place finish would be enough. I could have pushed harder but it just wasn’t necessary. Instead we slowed the car down a bit for safety. Toyota was not really within reach today, but the car was reliable and the crew did another sensational job. This is what endurance racing is about. Many, many thanks to everyone and of course to Brendon and Earl.”

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