The eagerly awaited race debut of the innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) was a success. The highly complex Le Mans Prototype took a podium at its first attempt in the action packed six hour race at Silverstone (Great Britain). Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) came third in the Porsche 919 Hybrid after 165 laps on the 5.891 kilometre long track. The race was red flagged because of heavy rain 24 minutes before the planned six hours were completed. Webber brought the car home behind the safety car. The sister car of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) had to retire after 1 hour 15 minutes because of a technical problem. The overall victory went to Toyota drivers Sébastien Buemi (CH), Anthony Davidson (GB) and Nicolas Lapierre (FR).
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development of Porsche AG: “I am really proud. This was a proper comeback to the highest class of endurance racing. Preparation, operation, discipline in the garage and at the wheel of the two Porsche 919 Hybrids have been very good. The race itself was fascinating and this shows me that the new WEC rules work well – despite or even because of the great technical freedom. Three manufacturers, three innovative hybrid systems and exciting competition on the highest level. For me this is motorsport that contributes to road car development.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Regarding our pace, I’m not too worried because the entire project is in its very early stages. The retirement of car no. 14 is annoying for all of us. With car no. 20 we had an entirely trouble free six hour race. Returning home with a trophy from the very first race is a great result for us and I think we should all sleep well tonight.”
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1: “Considering how complex this completely new technology is, it is very positive to have finished the race with one car. The no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid ran trouble free. We will have to have a long look into the reasons for the retirement of car no. 14.”
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal LMP1: “We have been a strong team here and have done a straightforward job on the operational side. I want to thank all the guys and girls here at the track and back home at Weissach. Third place for the no. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid is a well deserved reward for the hard work done since the first roll out in June 2013. During the race we have made the right calls and our drivers didn’t make any mistakes in the most difficult conditions. This was a first class job.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #20
Timo Bernhard: “We could hardly have asked for more. To pick up a podium at the very first attempt at Porsche’s return to the top class of Le Mans prototypes is just great. It was very important to finish the race and make the right calls. This way we have gathertred loads of data. I had a good start and managed to stay close to the cars in front of me. When the rain set in we were quite competitive and were able to close the gap quickly. At my pit stop we took exactly the right decision and went for intermediate tyres. This proved to be the perfect call. Many thanks to the entire team. We have come a long way.“
Brendon Hartley: “It was an amazing feeling to bring the car back after my very first stint as a Porsche factory driver and hand it over to Mark. I had a difficult middle stint with rain on the windscreen. It was difficult to tell where the track was wet and where the line was dry. I didn’t take much of a risk in terms of traffic, and I was careful with the tyres too. I am delighted with how this first part of my job went.”
Mark Webber: “It’s been a brilliant day for us. I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point. Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases. It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid #14
Neel Jani: “Initially I had a good start, but in the first corner I went straight on and lost some positions. I had a bit of an issue with understeer, which made it difficult to follow the cars in front of me. On lap 24 I had a problem on the front left wheel and I had to pit again. The team got the car back on track within 16 minutes, which was a fantastic effort. Unfortunately on lap 30 we had to retire due to another problem.“
Double victory for Porsche at season-opener
Scoring a double victory at the six-hour race in Silverstone at the season-opening round of the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC, the Porsche Team Manthey made an excellent start to the season. Facing difficult conditions on the storied British circuit, Porsche works drivers Marco Holzer (Germany), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) won the well-supported GTE-Pro class with the Porsche 911 RSR. Their factory pilot colleagues Patrick Pilet (France), Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) finished the hotly-contested first race in second place.
At the Silverstone Circuit, spectators witnessed a gripping race with changeable weather conditions from start to finish. Taking up the race from the first grid row at the wheel of the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, Nick Tandy took the GT lead for the first time in lap eleven. A stop-and-go penalty, which his teammate Joerg Bergmeister served after the driver change, saw them lose their lead for just a brief time. Over the remainder of the race, the 470 hp winning racers from Weissach, based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, often swapped positions for the lead spot. In the end it was newcomer Frédéric Makowiecki who settled at the front of the pack and brought home this important maiden win of the season at his very first race as a Porsche factory driver.
After winning at Le Mans in 2013, the 911 RSR took off into this season scoring victory at the long distance classics at Daytona and Sebring. This success at Silverstone is another step forward, particularly with an eye on this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Just how tight the competition was in the GTE-Pro class and how strong the factory-entries from Aston Martin and Ferrari were is underlined not least by the fact that the first four vehicles reached the chequered flag within the same lap. Due to heavy rain, the race was red-flagged 26 minutes before the scheduled finish.
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport: “Our drivers did a very good job at this truly exciting race. Just thinking about Frédéric’s overtaking manoeuvres – now that was a lot of fun to watch. What we saw today was racing at its very best. The stewards made the right decision to stop the race. Towards the end the rain came bucketing down. For the first race of the season this is of course a terrific result and we’ll be doing everything to continue like this. Our 911 RSR cars were the ones to beat today in the dry and the wet. Fortunately none of our rivals managed this.”
Marco Holzer (#92): “It is of course a fantastic feeling to kick off my first WEC season with a victory. We faced extremely difficult conditions today, the track conditions changed constantly. When I took over the cockpit, the circuit was dry. After two laps it began to drizzle which made it very difficult to drive consistent lap times. My first priority was not to fly off the track. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to compete under such changeable conditions. You enter a corner that looks completely dry on slicks only to suddenly find your car going sideways and you’re looking ahead out of the side window. That was pretty hair-raising.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (#92): “That is exactly how I imagined my first race as a Porsche works driver. What a great race, but it was really challenging. We started on a dry track, then it began to rain which made our tyre choice difficult. We changed the rubber quickly without losing too much time. Even switching back to slicks went without losing much time thanks to our swift pit crew. A big compliment to our whole team. That was a great job.”
Richard Lietz (#92): “I’m really thrilled that I could help my teammates Marco and Frédéric to start the season with a win. The balance of our car was very good. We were able to match the pace of the fastest GT cars without any problems over the whole distance. The track was dry during most of my stint, and it was great fun to drive. I sometimes lost a bit of time while lapping the slower cars because they left little room, but that’s how it goes sometimes. That’s not important now after such a win.”
Patrick Pilet (#91): “This is a great result for Porsche. The race highlighted that we’ve been heading in the right direction the whole time. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this. Even though we didn’t manage to win today, I’m thrilled for the team. This success is the just reward for hard work.”
Joerg Bergmeister (#91): “There are for sure worse things for a race driver than to start the season in second place behind his teammates. I’m pleased. My stint was real fun, apart from the stop-and-go penalty that was handed to Nick of course. But our car ran so well on slicks that I reclaimed the lead relatively quickly. That was somehow my weather today. I really enjoy driving on slicks under such changeable conditions. That’s definitely one of my strengths.”
Nick Tandy (#91): “We had a very good car, regardless of whether the track was dry or wet. This was shown by the super result for Porsche. In my first stint I enjoyed a great fight with a Ferrari. The rain gave us a few hairy moments but I love it when unexpected things happen in a race and you have to adjust your strategy. It proved really difficult today not to make a mistake and bring the car home safely. I’m pleased that everything went so well, especially here at Silverstone. Driving on this circuit is simply fun, particularly in such difficult conditions.”