Porsche took a dominant win in the 6h of Nürburgring, the team’s ‘home’ race and the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship. The somewhat engineered win sees Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber and Timo Bernhard take a 30-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship, with the five ‘fly-away’ races remaining.
Toyota started the race on pole with the #7 TS050 which lead the opening stages. However, as the race moved into the second hour, the car began to slip back behind the pair of Porsche 919 Hybrids with what was initially believed to be tyre degradation but the team have since confirmed was due to an issue with aerodynamic balance migration.
According to the team’s official statement, “Post-race investigation has revealed significant damage to the underfloor of the #7 car as well as a hole in the rear wing, which caused cracks in the main plane during the race.”
The team believes the underfloor was damaged by curb riding and the rear wing was struck by unidentified debris leaving Kobayashi, Lopez and Conway unable to challenge the Porsches in the second half of the race.
More bad luck befell the crew of the #8 car which suffered a fuel pump failure on the formation laps requiring a 9 minute pit stop to replace the faulty pump, time that despite a spirited drive the crew would never make up.
The two 919 Hybrids remained equally matched throughout the race, swapping the lead on multiple occasions but an engineered extended final fuel stop for the #1 car meant that the car’s lead was relinquished to their Le Mans winning sister car ensuring a maximum points tally for the Championship leading car but leaving Andre Lotterer severely unhappy and complaining he had enough fuel to finish without the stop. The 1-2 result means that Porsche took a maximum 43 points from the Nürburgring round and now leads Toyota by 39.5 points.
The #4 ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO continued its run of bad luck coming home 14th overall, 22 laps behind the overall race-winner in what we believe will be the final race this year for the troubled privateer LMP1 entry.
In the hotly contested LMP2 class Jackie Chan DC Racing chalked up its third class win this season with a dominant run by Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-Pin Tung in the #Mighty38 Oreca Gibson, the trio finishing 1 lap ahead of the second place #31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca.
Again, the LMP2 class showed the close racing potential from the 2017 generation cars with both of the Rebellions, both Jackie Chan DC Racing cars and the #36 Sigantech Alpine in the mix for the podium spots throughout the race.
In GTE, unlike Le Mans where it was anybody’s race right up until the last lap, Germany saw a master-class by James Caldo and Allesandro Pier-Guidi who, despite qualifying second to last in GTE Pro, took their #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE to a 50s victory over the #91 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Lietz and Makowiecki who were in turn 8s ahead of their sister #92 car.
Neither of the Ford GTs ever looked up for the challenge this weekend qualifying fourth (#66) and sixth (#67) and eventually finished the race in fifth (#67) and sixth (#66) a lap down on the podium sitters.
Perhaps we were unfairly expecting more, but in the first race where the Le Mans winning Aston Martins were favoured by the new computerised BoP process the cars failed to deliver in the Pro class, consistently lapping off the pace. The Danish pairing of Thiim and Sørensen managed to grab a consolation fourth spot in the #95 car while the #97 finished seventh in class, just ahead of the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Davide Rigon and a returning Toni Vilander.
The results mean that the the #67 car of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK leads the GT Pro World Endurance Trophy by 11 points over the the #51 AF Corse team and #91 Porsche GT Team.
In the Am category we were treated to one hell of a ding-dong throughout the race with the pole sitting #98 Aston Martin of Dalla Lana, Lamy and Lauda leading from the start only to eventually finish a lap down to the #77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 and the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488.
Full event results can be found online at the WEC’s timing page.