Timo Bernhard says that being reunited with some of his race-winning cars has brought back emotions from the early days of his career with Porsche.
The two-time FIA World Endurance Champion and overall 24 Hours of Le Mans winner is among the star drivers that have assembled at Porsche’s Rennsport Reunion VI at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in the largest gathering of Porsche race cars worldwide.
“When I walk around, I see some of my old cars from when I started my career,” Bernhard said.
“There’s the Daytona-winning car from . That reminds myself a bit of my age, as I’m getting older!
“But it’s quite good and it reminds you of how [lucky] you are to be involved with Porsche to be one of their drivers and to have a small [piece] of the heritage and history of the brand. It’s very rewarding.”
The most recent car that Bernhard helped take to fame, the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record-shattering Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, is also present this weekend and is taking part in demonstration laps.
Rennsport is the car’s final scheduled on-track appearance, prior to it being retired to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.
When asked if he could choose one particular car to drive again, Bernhard said he would like to revisit his 2007-08 American Le Mans Series championship-winning LMP2 machine.
“I would probably go back to one of the cars I’ve driven here before and raced ten years ago,” he said.
“It would be the RS Spyder, just to remember the good times and to remind myself of how good the times were and see how the car would feel nowadays.
“I think the older you get, the more you appreciate each era.
“For example, when I see the Daytona-winning car from 2002, I look at it as, ‘Back then it was your first year as a factory driver.’
“I kind of want to go back with the emotions of what I felt at that moment because it was a crucial time, also to see where my career was going and you had different aims and tasks and goals. I also link it to that.
“For sure, ultimately to drive the car now… it’s aged. You have to use the clutch and upshift and downshift with a spec tire and not a lot of downforce; it’s a completely different way of driving.
“But back at the time it was a challenge to drive these cars. At that time it was very important.
“You have an emotional relationship with these cars because they were part of your career.”
Bernhard is taking part in his third Rennsport Reunion, an event that was the brainchild of the late Bob Carlson, a Porsche Cars North America PR rep who the German driver had worked with in his early days as a factory driver while in the ALMS.
“There’s just one brand in the world that has such a rich heritage of motorsport,” Bernhard said.
“You see how many top-level people from Porsche and motorsport are here. Everybody is approachable, so it’s really like this kind of Porsche family feel.
“Also you see all of the Le Mans-winning cars and you see all of the cars from IMSA, from the GT days in the 70s and 80s.
“It’s amazing. I’m very honored to be here and it’s very special.”