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Timo Bernhard Celebrates 20 Years with Porsche

As of 2019, Timo Bernhard is the longest-serving Porsche works driver. While his highest profile victory came in 2017, with his upset Le Mans victory, Bernhard has been putting rubber to the road for two full decades as of this month. Of the current drivers, he’s also the only one to have won championships at every level of the « Porsche Pyramid. » Bernhard won the German Carrera Cup in 2001, won the GT title in ALMS in 2004, won the ALMS LMP2 class in 2007 and 2008, and won the FIA WEC crown in 2015 and 2017. As much as any Porsche model, the man is a machine built for victory.

Becoming Indispensable

Becoming a Porsche Junior was not a step Mr. Bernhard expected to take, “I went along, but had no expectations at all,” yet after testing at Misano, Mr. Bernhard left a Porsche Junior. Indeed, he still has the letter affirming his newfound status.

« To be honest, I didn’t really know what was in store. At that time I didn’t think beyond the next race, and only gradually came to understand what a big opportunity this was for me and what the Porsche legend really meant, » reflects Bernhard. Back in 1999, he could not have anticipated that by 2013 he would be the first person to test the marque’s triumphant return to top tier endurance racing.

Though he began in the Carrera Cup, Bernhard would become indispensable to Porsche’s motorsports development. He piloted the 919 Hybrid on its first rollout, and notes that  “(I) was involved in the development of the new car from the beginning. Driving the car for the first time in the rollout was a very proud moment.”

Upon entering in to competition in the new car, Bernhard proved formidable. After a slightly rocky 2014, subsequent seasons brought victory after victory. In 34 total entries in the 919 Hybrid Bernhard and his teammates landed on the podium an astonishing 23 times, and racked up no less than a dozen outright victories.

To Bernhard, this level of success was not a given. “When I started at Porsche as a junior in 1999, I wouldn’t have dared dream that some day I might get the opportunity to fight it out for the overall victory in Le Mans, and be good enough to actually pull it off. »

Breaking Records

But his successes don’t end with his competition record. Bernhard, a five-time overall winner of the 24 Hours Nürburgring, was just the man to break the all-time lap record at the Green Hell. Stefan Bellof’s 1983 lap record stood for twenty-five years before Bernhard shattered it by an astounding 51.58 seconds, with a time of 5:19.55. Though Bellof’s time remains the fastest-ever lap by a competition-legal car, a record that is unlikely to ever be broken, breaking the outright record remains an impressive feat.

Looking to the Future

Following Porsche’s exit from top-tier endurance racing, Bernhard has refocused his effort. At present he is splitting his time between driving for Porsche, and driving Porsches for the team he runs with his father; KÜS Team75 Bernhard. Since last year he has been racing a GT3 R in ADAC GT Masters, appearing in Super Sports Car League, and supporting his team’s efforts in karting, Porsche Sports Cup, ADAC GT4, and numerous endurance racing events.

As Porsche fans, we’re proud to have had a driver like Mr. Bernhard around for so long, and we wish him decades of continued success with Porsche, both on and off the track.

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Chris Harris Samples the 919 Hybrid

 

Harris trying to familiarize himself with a very alien car.

There are few cars which can compare to the tech-fest that is the 919 Hybrid. With 4WD, a sophisticated electric motor powering the front axle, and the punchy V4 turbo driving the rear, the propulsion is unrivaled.

That’s not only due to low-end torque and enviable traction. In large part, it’s due to the way that it deploys its ~1,000 horsepower. With clever mapping to decide when the right moment is to deploy hybrid boost, all Chris Harris has to do is plant his right foot for the most efficient use of power. « Because the car feels a bit different in every corner, there’s a sense that it’s doing stuff that I don’t know about, » Harris elaborates.

The self-driving aspect might be exaggerated slightly for dramatic effect, but the typical approach one might take to a contemporary GT3 car doesn’t seem to apply with this rolling test lab. Even after learning how to manage all the systems at work, he needs a few tips from Neel Jani on how to take quick corners with great speed and consistency.

« The way you can just roll it into a corner off-throttle—how un-Porsche is that? » Harris asks.

It’s not surprising that the high G-forces quickly exhaust Harris, a reformed smoker, but it’s the way which the 919 Hybrid casually cruises through the fast bends that he can’t quite fathom. Thanks to the aero grip and the computer assistance, coasting off-throttle through some sections works better than one familiar with typical racecar behavior might think. Thanks to the outrageous levels of downforce, the car carries Harris to a new level of performance that leaves him baffled.

« I’ve never driven a racing car that feels like it’s doing more thinking around the lap than me. »

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Webber rentre la Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo au musée

La_Porsche_919_EVO_au_musée

Voilà, c’en est fini de la tournée d’adieu de la Porsche 919 Hybrid et de son alter ego sous stéroïdes, la 919 Hybrid Evo. Direction le musée Porsche. Porsche aura quand même fait un gros pied de nez à l’ACO, aux 24 heures du Mans et au WEC en décidant de partir du championnat tout […]

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Glorious Noise from the Eighth Porsche Sound Nacht

Porsche hosts a celebration of noise. How magnificent is that? Now in its eighth year, Sound Nacht has grown from its past in a large conference hall to center stage of the Porsche arena. Just under 4,000 Porsche fans showed up to come bask in the auditory triumphs of their favorite brand. The exhibition featured thirteen cars, with sounds ranging from the authoritative bark and rush of air from the 962, to more subdued noise of 356/001. The event also featured the sonic stylings of a Panamera Sport Turismo and a team of dancers. With growth comes variety, and what might seem slightly silly in concept has only become more compelling after nearly a decade.

While the Porsche flat-six is the sound the brand is most known for, it is far from the be-all, end-all of Porsche noise. When Porsche ranked their top five sounds, just two flat-sixes made the list. Porsche’s sonic repertoire isn’t a one-dimensional thing, it’s a broad and varied collection that would do Captain Beefheart proud. With engines from four to twelve cylinders on offer, and the booming acoustics of an arena, this edition of Sound Nacht may be the grandest yet.

We will admit though, the Panamera bit was a bit odd.

Below is a brief clip showing each car to appear at the event.

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Porsche 356/001

Porsche 962

Porsche 804 Formula 1

Porsche 917

Porsche 911 RSR Turbo 2.1

Porsche 935/78

Porsche 911 GT1-98

Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar

Porsche 964 Carrera Cup

Porsche 996 GT3 Cup

Note: This car suffered an unusual issue, and began to slide backwards across the angled turntable used for the event.

Porsche 996 GT3 RSR

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche 991 RSR

 
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Porsche 935 : Surprise au Rennsport Reunion VI à Laguna Seca !

Le Saint Graal automobile existe t il ? Oui, chacun de nous ayant le sein, on peut le côtoyer à chaque meeting de course historique. Au rendez vous bi-annuelle du Rennsport Reunion, sur le circuit de Laguna Seca en Californie, Porsche a créé la surprise en dévoilant une nouvelle 935, hommage à la légendaire Porsche […]

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