Bernhard column: Repeating the success of Le Mans at home

In his latest Motorsport.com column, Porsche LMP1 ace Timo Bernhard recounts another victorious weekend in the FIA World Endurance Championship, this time on home soil at the Nurburgring.

Bernhard column: Repeating the success of Le Mans at home
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
LMP1 Podium: race winners Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, Porsche Team
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
Timo Bernhard, Porsche Team
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer, Nick Tandy
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley
LMP1 Podium: race winners Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, Porsche Team
#2 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley

The Nurburgring has a very special place in my heart and next to Le Mans my home race is the second highlight of the season for me. In the last two years we have had an incredible reception from the fans and this year I really enjoyed the atmosphere and racing in front of a huge crowd.

Our family has always had a very close relation with the Nurburgring. I remember very well when I first came to the 'Ring when I was a little boy. My dad and I watched a VLN race and it was just amazing.

Coming to the Nurburgring always feels like coming home. I have a lot of great memories from racing there in the past.

After our win at Le Mans our target is clear: to defend both FIA WEC titles. While at the beginning of the season the focus lay on minimising drag for Le Mans, we ran a new aero package with a lot more downforce at the Nurburgring.

Our engineers did a great job with the development despite the workload of Le Mans. The new aero kit worked very well and both our cars ran faultlessly. 

During the practice sessions we worked on the race set up and did a qualifying simulation. We could already see that it would be a very tight battle not only with Toyota but also with our sister car.

We didn’t have a the smoothest qualifying on Saturday. On my flying lap I had to overtake an LMP2 car, which wasn’t ideal. The driver didn’t look in his mirrors while on his in- or out-lap and it cost me about two tenths of a second. Otherwise it could have been close for pole position. Second was nevertheless a good position to start from.

Lining up on the grid at your home race is always special. There are so many familiar faces and well wishes and the home crowd creates a buzzing atmosphere. 

Before the start, we had to do an additional formation lap as the #8 Toyota had an issue and had to pit. I had a good getaway and between Kamui Kobayashi in front of me and Andre Lotterer behind we had a really good battle and were all going at similar speed.

After our pit stop, Brendon joined the field in third. He was able to pass Neel Jani again and finally also caught the leading Toyota.

Throughout the race we had some issues with rubber pick-up that got stuck in the bodywork which caused changing performance until it was cleaned out at the pit stop. Our sister car had the same problem and therefore we swapped positions several times.

Halfway through the race Earl had a bit of a moment, when he had to dodge an LMP2 car and fell behind our sister car. It was a tight battle and both our cars had the speed to win the race.

At the last pit stop the team gave preference to our car due to the championship standings. The mandate is clear, to win both titles for Porsche, and as the #1 car retired at Le Mans they are behind us in the points.

Both cars deserved to win, but in the end it was me and our car to bring home the third consecutive home win. It was also the fifth double-win for the 919 since we came back to LMP1 racing in 2014.

Now I look forward to a break and some holidays and time to let the last weeks sink in. I really look forward to putting up my feet and coming back fully recharged for the remaining races. 

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