Timo Bernhard: A vital victory for the #1 Porsche crew

In his latest Motorsport.com column, Porsche LMP1 star Timo Bernhard basks in the glory of FIA World Endurance Championship victory on home ground at the Nurburgring.

Timo Bernhard: A vital victory for the #1 Porsche crew
Race winners #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
Timo Bernhard, Porsche Team, Andreas Seidl, Principal Porsche Team
Race winners #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley with the rest of the Porsche Team
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley takes the checkered flag
Race winners #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
Timo Bernhard, Porsche Team, Andreas Seidl, Principal Porsche Team
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
Timo Bernhard, Porsche Team
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley, #2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
Race winners #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
Race winners #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley with Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board - Research and Development Porsche AG
#1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley

Looking back at last weekend makes me really proud – not only because we won the race at the Nurburgring for the second time in a row but it also makes me proud of German motorsport.

The Nurburgring is the ‘heart of German racing’. The fans live and breath motorsport and it was great to see how many of them follow the WEC and sportscar racing.

To win on my ‘home track’ was incredibly special. I grew up not far from here and have been at the ’Ring from a young age. I’ve had a lot of beautiful moments and success there in my career of which the highlight was to win the 24-hour race five times.

Last year, Mark, Brendon and I won our first WEC race there and of course the plan was to repeat this success.

Chilling out before serious business

The weekend started pretty relaxed for us. Each year the drivers invite the whole team for dinner and this time round we hosted a BBQ at the ranch of Frikadelli Racing with Sabine Schmitz, Klaus Abbelen and their team which was very chilled and a rare opportunity to catch up with the guys over a cold beer.

The GP circuit is an old-school F1 track – it sits within the Eifel Mountains and takes you back some 20 years which almost guarantees exciting races.

It’s not an easy track and, as a driver, you have to adapt your driving style to the different corner speeds and direction changes. You have to look at whole sections rather than individual corners to keep the flow, which is challenging for the driver.

Our new aero package worked very well in the first two practice sessions and we were able to carry out our set-up work as planned. From the track times you could see that all three manufacturers were very close together.

Tough conditions in qualifying

There was a massive downpour before qualifying on Saturday which left the track wet but luckily most of the session stayed dry. I had traffic with LMP2 cars on both of my laps.

Mark had a clear lap in the end, but then it started raining in the chicane. It was a bit of a lottery to catch the perfect window but Audi got it right and we eventually finished third.

The weather for race day had improved significantly and thousands of fans came to watch us race. At the start I managed to move up into P2, and I kept putting pressure on the leading Audi.

We had a really good battle and I even managed to get past him, but missed my braking point because I was focussed on the traffic, and he overtook me again.

However, with a super-quick pitstop we managed to undercut them and took over the lead. After I handed the car to Brendon we hit trouble: we lost tyre pressure due to a slow puncture and had to come in for an early stop.

Coming out on top in the end

It was a really tight race and everybody put in a great effort. I took over for the final stint and had the pleasure of driving home the victory in front of our home crowd.

To me this win tasted especially sweet. We had some tough luck in the last few races and know that we’re pretty much out of the driver’s title race.

However, after a tricky start to the season it was important for us to get a win under the belt as we’ve been in very good form with good pace so to get some points for the constructors’ championship was important and helps make up for the bad luck we had in the first three rounds.

Danke,

Timo

Don't miss the Inside WEC review of the race...

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