The Porsche LMP Team is pleased with its performance in Monza. Almost the entire 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship field met for a joint two-day test weekend at the Italian high-speed circuit near Milan. The so-called “Prologue” with 27 cars present, saw the public debut of both the new 919 Hybrid of the world championship title defender Porsche as well as the new Toyota TS050 Hybrid. Both manufacturers ran two cars. The 2017 duel of the two class 1 prototypes is eagerly awaited, especially at the Le Mans 24-Hours as the season’s highlight.
At the Prologue, Toyota set the overall best lap time. Neel Jani (CH) recorded the fastest lap for a Porsche 919 Hybrid on Saturday when lapping the 5.793 kilometre long track in 1:31.666 minutes. The reigning world champion shares the 919 Hybrid with Porsche’s newcomer André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) who returned to the LMP1 squad inside the Porsche family. Together the trio of the number 1 car covered 331 laps (1,906 kilometres) in two days.
At the wheel of the number 2 Porsche it was Earl Bamber (NZ) who set the fastest lap in 1:31.823 minutes. Just like for the sister car, this was achieved during a qualifying simulation on Saturday evening. Bamber took over Mark Webber’s seat and teams up with Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ). The number 2 car crew completed a total of 329 laps (1,894 km) during the Prologue in Monza.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: „Thanks to a great team effort, we look back not only on a pretty tough week but also on a very successful one. In Paul Ricard, we have concluded one of the best endurance tests ever. This was followed by the car unveiling in Monza which resulted in very positive feedback for the car’s new livery. The two test days at the Prologue were excellent and given the close competition spectators can look forward to a thrilling world championship.“
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We had split the Prologue into two test phases. On Saturday we focussed on the car’s set-up and managed to improve it. The rain in the evening was an asset because we could practice quick turnarounds in changing conditions. On Sunday we did race simulations with both cars to investigate tyre wear and exercise race-specific routines like pit stops. To meet Toyota for the first time with us and them driving low downforce aero configurations like you’d have in Le Mans was obviously very interesting for both of us. Testing doesn’t allow for proper judgement, but certainly we will see very close competition in every type of track condition. For us as a team it is very important to feel absolutely ready now for the season’s curtain raiser on April 16 in Silverstone.”
Drivers car number 1:
Neel Jani (33, Switzerland): “Practically we have been simulating a race weekend here and this worked out very well, especially as we had to deal with various track conditions. I enjoyed having the Prologue here in Monza. The circuit has a great tradition and special atmosphere and we had lots of fun with the many fans joining us. Another beneficial aspect is that this track doesn’t forgive any mistakes. This gives you an extra thrill.”
André Lotterer (35, Germany): “For me the Prologue was my first public appearance as a Porsche works driver and with the Porsche LMP Team. I have been welcomed by everybody and it was an important next step to experience the first event in conditions similar to a race weekend. I was approached by many fans who wanted to take their first picture of me in my new overalls. I enjoy getting used to it. Porsche is a special brand. I think every racing driver likes to be identified with it. I’m looking forward to an exciting season.”
Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain): „It is good to have the Prologue as a pre-race preparation. We do lots of testing but you never feel real pressure there. Here in Monza we worked like it was a race weekend. It is good to get into this feeling before the season.”
Drivers car number 2
Earl Bamber (26, New Zealand): „The guys at Porsche have done great development work to the 919. During the Prologue here in Monza, we have learnt a lot again about the car, especially when driving in difficult conditions. During the Saturday night session we had a thunder storm and it’s very useful to get track time in the rain.”
Timo Bernhard (36, Germany): “It was a very positive Prologue for me. We had been well prepared and now we are ready to race in Silverstone. A few boxes are still on the list to be ticked off, especially regarding improvements for Le Mans. I think all of us really enjoyed these days in Monza very much: a super surrounding, lots of real motor sports and sports car enthusiasts who created a great hype during the autograph session as well – overall, this was a fantastic kick-off event for the new WEC season. Brendon and I know each other like a married couple anyway, and Earl fits in just perfectly. Ready to rumble!“
Brendon Hartley (27, New Zealand): „We felt very ready when we came here. We wish we were lining up for a race rather than for a test because Monza is a great track with a good atmosphere and a lot of fans even on a test day. I hope in the future we can race here. In all conditions it was very close with the Toyotas, so it’s clearly going to be a tough and close fought championship. Also it was good to get used to traffic again as at the previous tests we felt very lonely.”