Mixed start to the weekend for championship leader and title defender Porsche at the Nürburgring: In both free practice sessions at the fourth of nine rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) a Porsche 919 Hybrid topped the time sheets. Mark Webber (AU) achieved the overall fastest time of the day with a lap of 1:40.997 minutes. At the same time Romain Dumas (FR) went off the track because of a brake disc failure.
In bright sunshine, the reigning world champions and last year’s Nürburgring winners, Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU), came second and first respectively in the two 90-minute practice sessions. Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) with the sister car were fastest overall in the first session on the 5.148 kilometre long Grand Prix circuit, but dropped to fifth place in the second session because of the early stop.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl: “The new aero package worked as we expected here at the Nürburgring so far and passed its performance test. All the drivers are happy with the balance of the cars. We have made another step forward, but our competitors also worked hard and were very competitive with close results. We did the set-up work on the number 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid as planned. Car number 2 had a failure of the front left brake disc during the second free practice that lead to an impact with a tyre wall. The damage to the car is minor and driver Romain Dumas was uninjured, which is the most important point. Let’s hope the weather stays nice and dry, but the forecast shows a lot of possibilities at the moment.”
LMP1 qualifying will be held on Saturday from 14:45-15:05 hrs. The six-hour race starts on Sunday at 13:00 hrs.
Quotes after Free Practice:
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 1
Timo Bernhard (35, Germany): “I grew up about 150 kilometres from the Nürburgring and I have a lot of nice memories from this track, including last year’s WEC victory here. It is great to take our fast prototype out on this track. Over the distance it is also pretty hard work, because this circuit doesn’t give you a chance to relax. The new high downforce aero package feels good, so we are pleased with day one.”
Brendon Hartley (26, New Zealand): “We have had two good sessions and both were dry, which wasn’t really expected. We have made lots of small changes and lots of small steps in the right direction. Our car is very good. Looking at the lap times, it is going to be a tight battle.”
Mark Webber (39, Australia): “We can’t read too much into today’s lap times, as it is race conditions that count. But we got the maximum out of today and the most information we could. The Nürburgring is fantastic for these fast cars, and we we’re happy to see the sun all day. Car number 1 is in good shape and we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”
Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid number 2
Romain Dumas (38, France): “In free practice two suddenly the front left brake disc failed and I went straight into the barriers. The car is slightly damaged, but I’m okay. Unfortunately we couldn’t proceed with the set-up and tyre comparison work, but at least the 919 was great until the incident.”
Neel Jani (32, Switzerland): “Today wasn’t that great for us. During the first practice session the track was very dirty, then we lost time due to a red flag in FP1 and now because of the accident. Tomorrow we’ll try to make up for it.”
Marc Lieb (36, Ludwigsburg): “The general balance of the car and the new aero-kit was quite good from the beginning. Unfortunately the in-depth preparation was interrupted by the accident, but the main thing is that Romain is fine.”