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Ciao Porsche 919

Voilà, c’est fini comme disait Aubert ! La Porsche 919, après 3 saisons de très bons et loyaux service, tire sa révérence. Et par la même occasion Porsche suspend son programme LMP1 en endurance… L’occasion de dire au revoir à une caisse qui, en peu de temps, laissera son emprunte dans le monde du sport […]

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Results, Pictures and Video From WEC Round 9 in Bahrain

Porsche’s Race in LMP1 – 

Porsche finished the 2017 LMP1 season this year by securing all of the available championships, though they technically won fewer races than Toyota did. By winning at Le Mans this year, however, Porsche secured more points than Toyota had, giving them the championship victory from the penultimate race in China. For Bahrain, then, their primary goal was to arrive to the race and win it. Porsche ultimately finished second and third in an emotional and incident-filled 6-hour race. Porsche started from pole, and victory would have put a nice pin in Porsche’s LMP1 program, but instead they’ll have to settle for a double-podium and the championship victory. This was likely a good consolation prize for them.

Porsche Chairman Oliver Blume reflects on the successes of the 919 Hybrid LMP1 program: « No other Porsche team has ever managed three Le Mans outright victories in a row but this squad achieved it. I thank them very much for this. I’m extremely proud of every single team member. They have mastered a mammoth task with hard work, consistency and the right approach. To me this represents the Porsche spirit that our brand stands for spanning almost 70 years. Now the team of Fritz Enzinger and Andreas Seidl face its new challenge: to enter Formula E for season number six at the end of 2019.

Neel Jani, a driver with the P1 program from day one, started the final race of the #1 car’s career from pole position. For the opening 19 laps Jani stayed out front, but as the green flag period progresses, the Toyotas have the measure of the Porsches on pace, he was passed by the #8 Toyota for the lead, and by the #7 car for second on lap 20. Jani continues for his second stint after a pit for fuel on lap 30 and retains third on the track. At lap 61, Jani hands off driving duties to Nick Tandy. Thanks to a triple stint on tires during his time in the car, Tandy re-takes the lead on pit strategy. Only six laps after taking that lead, however, Tandy collides with the Gulf Racing UK Porsche GTE-Am category car in turn one, which causes a puncture and costs the #1 car its lead and potential for victory. Dejected, Andre Lotterer takes over the car to run it to the finish one lap down from the leader at 199 laps.

In the #2 car, meanwhile, Timo Bernhard started the race and immediately improved from third to second. At lap three, there was a bollard lying on the track from a prior collision, and the car collected it, unbeknownst to its pilot. It goes unnoticed during the subsequent pace car period, but when the race returns to green, Bernhard is forced to pit to remove the debris and change the nose cone. The car continues to run untroubled for the remainder of the race. Cycling through Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley, Timo gets back aboard the car to bring it to its final finish on the podium in second after the other Toyota suffered collision damage and then a penalty for the collision. Timo was the initial development driver for the 919 Hybrid program, so it’s only fitting that he take the car to its last checkered flag.

Quotes after the race

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Today a very successful era comes to an end and this is the right time to say thank you. Foremost I want to thank the Board who had the faith to give me the project, supported me a lot and always gave me the feeling I was the right choice. Personally, I was only convinced about this when we took our first race win in São Paulo back in 2014. Thanks to all our drivers who took every chance and delivered the highest performance. Finally, it was 17 wins in 34 races. Thanks to everybody in the team for their relentless work and euphoria for the project. There was nothing I enjoyed more than seeing the instinct to win in their eyes on race days! Today is also the right time to pay my gratitude to our Team Principal Andreas Seidl: For the last two years, Andreas mastered the dual role of Team Principal and Technical Director in a superior manner with the first 919 that was developed under his guidance winning the world championship. And finally: It is great a company like Porsche exists. If I had to put the six years I’m with Porsche in one sentence it would be: I was allowed to live my dream. Thanks for the project and thanks for the freedom of scope.

Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: “Over the past four seasons, Toyota has been an incredible competitor, and I congratulate them on today’s victory. Thanks to the whole team here and in Weissach, to our drivers and partners for four sensational years. This definitely was the last race for the 919 Hybrid. We are very proud of the success we were able to achieve with this technology driven car. Next year we will celebrate these innovations with some very special events. But these details will be unveiled at a later date.

Neel Jani, Driver, 919 Hybrid #1 –
The start was good and at the beginning we could more or less match the pace of the Toyotas. But as soon as we were in traffic, they just had this little bit more than us and over the distance we had to let them go. I really, really enjoyed playing with the boost today and all of the tactics for the last time. I was very aware that we were doing everything for the last time. It has been an amazing journey to be part of such a big project with so many great people.”

Timo Bernhard, Driver, 919 Hybrid #2 –
I had a good start, got past one Toyota and kept up with Neel. But then unfortunately I picked up that bollard and the extra stop dropped us far behind. That was a real shame. But the race result is secondary today. It is the end of great era. I’m honoured having been part of this programme from the very beginning until the last lap. A great crew, great people and great team mates. I will miss them. This programme definitely is the highlight of my career.

Porsche’s Race in GTE – 

Both GTE Pro entrants from Porsche suffered an abysmal start to the race, at times running at the back of the class. Things turned around for the #91 car, however, as Fred Mako fought his way forward within the class to be sitting in second place, just behind the leading Ferrari, with just 90 minutes left in the race. Unfortunately, as the race continued, his pace waned and he was forced to allow a second Ferrari and one of the Ford GTs ahead of him. The #91 car would ultimately finish second in the WEC championship, a valiant effort. The #92 car also managed to, at one point, run second on the road following the leading Ferrari, as it was around the half-way point of the motor race. Unfortunately for Michael Christensen, who was in the car at the time, a misjudged pass by the second Toyota TS050 LMP1 contender shunted Michael off and into early retirement. A less than good finish for Porsche’s GTE Pro effort, then.

In GTE Am, Dempsey Proton Racing finished in fourth in class, securing second in the GTE Am category points standings. They won two races this season, one at the Nurburgring, and another in Mexico. The team of Matteo Cairoli, Christian Ried, and Marvin Dienst did well in 2017.

Quotes after the race –

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “We were only narrowly beaten in the debut season of the 911 RSR. Like the last race of the season, all the other races in the GTE-Pro class were extremely competitive. Spectators were treated to truly spectacular racing. Unfortunately, our number 92 car was often hit by competitors. In 2018 we’ll return with the goal of winning the world championship. Congratulations to our Dempsey Proton Racing customer squad for securing second place in the drivers’ classification of the FIA Endurance Trophy.

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Clap de fin pour Porsche en LMP1

Porsche 919 hybrid lmp1La saison 2017 du World Endurance Championship (WEC) s’est achevée ce week-end sur le circuit de Sakhir à Bahreïn. Le Team Porsche …


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Is Brendon Hartley The Cornerstone Of Porsche’s Rumored Formula 1 Program?

Brendon Hartley has been an instrumental part of Porsche’s 919 Hybrid LMP1 program, having teamed to win twelve races and two championships in the last four years. With that program coming to an end, Mr. Hartley has moved his focus back to Formula 1. For the couple of years leading up to his stint with Porsche’s LMP1 program, Hartley was an F1 test driver and acquired a lot of experience in the simulators and with development of the various cars. For the final few races of the 2017 F1 season, Brendon earned a seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso (basically Red Bull’s B-team) and it was recently announced he would be taking over that seat for the full 2018 season as well. We’d figured Hartley would be out of his Porsche contract in deference to this new one in F1, but this report from Motorsport.com indicates that Porsche will continue to employ Brendon. We can’t help but wonder why?

Porsche has been absent from the Formula 1 grid since 1991 when they last supplied engines to the Footwork grand prix team. With 2021’s upcoming engine rules changes that will see a simpler, and less expensive to engineer engine regulation set, Porsche has expressed interest in becoming an engine supplier. However, I think they might have larger plans for Formula 1, and for Hartley, on the horizon.

This weekend in Bahrain, Porsche LMP1 Team boss Andreas Seidl was asked whether the Toro Rosso deal affected Hartley’s status with the German manufacturer’s motorsport plans. His answer is a somewhat telling, « Not really. » When probed, Seidl continued, « Obviously we will put some limitations in terms of what he can do for us, because he will have quite a busy schedule, but with the history we have built together, we definitely want to continue. The program within Porsche motorsport is huge, and there will be plenty of opportunities also for Brendon within the Porsche family also in the next years.”

It’s the « next years » part that I’m most intrigued with. Evidently Porsche intends to keep Hartley around for a few years, and perhaps this Formula 1 experience will be beneficial to their future needs. While the team is already ramping up a Formula E program, perhaps they’re working on another open wheeler, for Formula 1, in the next years. For a long time Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen has wanted some form of presence in the world’s most watched form of motorsport, and after a few fits and starts, this could be their opportunity. To develop a brand new Formula 1 program, you’d better get a very early start on it. If they are working on a 2021 Formula 1 effort already, Brendon Hartley would be a great lead driver for a new team. He’s been properly quick, having gotten back up to speed with F1 in short order. Porsche knows the kid and trusts him, which goes a long ways.

Will we see Porsche in Formula 1? Will Brendon Hartley be the one leading the charge for our favorite manufacturer from Stuttgart? Only time will tell, but we’re hopeful.

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Results, Pictures, And Video From WEC Round 8 At Shanghai

The penultimate round of Porsche’s final season in top flight prototype racing is done and gone. This report will take you through the highs and lows, ups and downs of Porsche’s time in China this weekend. The 6 hour race was not without incident, but ultimately everything shook out decently in Porsche’s favor. While they didn’t win any of the classes outright, they managed to secure titles in LMP1, and keep their title fight alive in GTE Pro and GTE Am. Read on for more.

Race Report: LMP1

With one round remaining in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Porsche officially secured the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ world championship titles with a double-podium effort this weekend in Shanghai, China. While they didn’t win the race outright, Porsche ran a conservative strategy to ensure both cars finished the race with decent points. Thanks to the second Toyota suffering collision damage late in the race, Porsche were promoted to second and third in the LMP1-H category netting enough points to secure both championships a round early. While the race was largely uneventful, this was a monumental occasion for Porsche, and a big win for the team that will be disbanded after the close of the season in just a few weeks time.

The #1 car was started by Nick Tandy – celebrating his 33rd birthday – from second on the grid. Over the first stint Tandy was consistently mixing it up with both Toyotas at the front, running well and keeping the car in second position. On lap 19 drama struck and his throttle pedal was no longer responding to inputs, causing the car to slow dramatically coming out of a corner. Tandy was forced to bring the car to a stop and re-cycle the ECU to get back underway. The whole ordeal lost the #1 919 Hybrid just over a minute and a half on the track, time that the team would never recover. From there, the team is in damage control mode, just planning on pounding laps and making it to the finish. The #7 Toyota’s lengthy repairs elevate the #1 up into third, where they finish.

The #2 car starts from fourth on the grid with Earl Bamber in the driver’s seat. For a short while he managed to elevate himself up to third, but a few laps later he is again overtaken by the faster #8 Toyota. Once the #1 car is sidelined, the 2 is elevated up into third, and they are no longer taking the risks required to get the car to victory lane. By the end of the first stint, Porsche realizes that Toyota has the faster car on this circuit, and need to settle into a rhythm to score some good points. By lap 126, both Porsches are a lap down to both Toyotas. Patience is rewarded when the #7 comes in for repairs, and the #2 car is handed second place, where they finish.

Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “Today’s race told another chapter of an almost unbelievable success story that shortly comes to an end. For the achievement of six world championship titles and three Le Mans overall victories, this team deserves the highest praise. With a great team spirit and good fun, they had a common aim: to win races for Porsche. This was again rewarded today by the defense of both world championship titles. What we have experienced over especially the last three years will take some time to sink in. Hats off to every single team member that contributed to this success and I want to thank everyone at Porsche worldwide, especially the board. They have supported us right from the beginning, believed in us and gave the program a high priority. Without this backing, we would not have won those races. This also goes for the great cooperation with our partners right from the beginning. Now I’m looking forward to an exciting race in Bahrain where many board members will join us. I’m utterly proud of our achievements over the recent years.”

LMP1 Gallery

Race Report: GTE

While the LMP1 championship battle ended this weekend, the GTE Pro class remains wide open until the final round in Bahrain. Thanks to spectacular efforts by Richard Lietz and Fred Mako, a Porsche factory effort 911 RSR managed to finish on the podium in second place at the checkered flag. The other car, driven by Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre, sadly suffered an engine failure after two hours and 15 minutes while leading the GTE Pro category. You could say this race was a bit of a mixed bag for Porsche’s GT contingent. The lone podium placing, however, was enough to close the gap in the GT Drivers World Championship to just two points.

The #91 Porsche of Lietz and Mako started on the GT grid in seventh position, and after seeing the nose-to-tail battles in this class, it’s easy to see that everyone is very closely matched on performance. By running consistently fast lap times, the duo were able to move up through the field, and after the first hour the car had been elevated up to third. After some impressive dicing with the Ford GTs, Mako managed to snag the lead of the race shortly after the #92 car was forced to retire. During the final stint of the race it was again Lietz at the wheel fighting for the lead with one of the Ford GTs. For nearly an hour he battled for the lead, never letting it out of his sight. Unfortunately with just over half an hour remaining, Lietz’ car was struck by one of the Toyota LMP1 prototypes. While the prototype was forced to pit for repairs the Porsche RSR managed to recover, but the battle for the lead was over. Lietz brought the car home in second, some 11 seconds behind the class winner.

For the first couple of stints, Estre and Christensen impressed everyone with a very strong run. They’d started the race from the first row of the grid on outside pole, and within three laps of the green flag falling, Estre moved his 911 RSR up into the lead of the class. The pass for the lead was one to remember, dicing in an amazing duel with the Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim. First stint ended, Estre pitted from the lead and handed off to Christensen. The car was consistently the fastest in the field, and Michael had an uneventful stint, handing back to Estre still in the lead. Shortly after taking control of the car, Kevin reported a fatal engine failure and coasted to a stop at the end of the start-finish straight.

The Porsche customer teams also delivered strong performances. The Gulf Racing 911 with Ben Barker, Nick Foster, and Khaled Al Qubaisi finished the race in second place. Securing third place finish, Dempsey Proton Racing defended their title chances with Matteo Cairoli, Christian Ried and Marvin Dienst doing the driving. With this pair of podiums, that puts Porsche up to five podium positions from three classes.

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars: “The fight for the world championship remains gripping. Today we managed to narrow the small gap to two points. Hopefully in Bahrain we’ll finally be able to bring home our long overdue maiden world championship win for our new 911 RSR. In the GTE-Pro class it was even closer than usual today. It’s a shame that the incident with the Toyota cost us decisive seconds as well as the chance to be even closer and perhaps even score a victory. The title race in the GTE-Am class is still open.”

GTE Gallery

The ninth and final round of the Sports Car World Endurance Championship WEC will be contested in Sakhir/Bahrain on 18 November.

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