Timo Bernhard has vowed to not hang up his helmet, with the two-time FIA World Endurance champion set to take part in “a few selected events” despite his tenure as a Porsche factory driver coming to an end.
The 38-year-old German, along with fellow Porsche champion Joerg Bergmeister, will not return as works drivers next year following a 20-year-run with Porsche as its longest-serving factory pilot.
Having been recognized for his achievements during last weekend’s Porsche “Night of Champions” ceremony in Stuttgart, Bernhard said his focus will shift to a more hands-on role with his Team75 Bernhard operation.
Bernhard drove in ADAC GT Masters this year alongside Klaus Bachler, who will be paired with Simona de Silverstro in the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R in 2020.
“My professional racing career is coming to an end and the next chapter in my life is about to begin,” Bernhard said.
“I look forward to continue working with Porsche as a brand ambassador.
“I will now increasingly focus on my KÜS Team75 Bernhard team and through my new role as team principal, I will now also be involved in the day-to-day business, which will further strengthen the team.
“However, as I am a racer through and through, I will still take part in a few selected events.”
It’s unclear if Bernhard will remain a part of Mazda’s DPi lineup in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races, which he also contested this year.
“In my professional career, I’ve achieved far more than I could have hopes for,” Bernhard added. “It was an amazing time with many memorable moments during which I’ve met some incredible people.
“I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to a number of people, especially at Porsche: the employees, mechanics, engineers and my great teammates, who have all been part of my journey.
“A special thanks goes to my family, my wife, my parents and my sister. They’ve been through everything with me and have helped make me who I am today. Thank you.”
Dumas Pays Tribute to Bernhard: “A Great Teammate”
Longtime co-driver Romain Dumas, who remains contracted to Porsche as a factory driver for next year, has been one of many to have paid tribute to Bernhard.
The duo rose to fame in the American Le Mans Series, most notably with back-to-back LMP2 championships with the Penske Porsche RS Spyder program in 2007-08.
Bernhard also earned a GT class championship in 2004 before going on to win the 24 Hour of Le Mans alongside Dumas while both were on-loan to Audi in 2010.
“We almost won everything together,” Dumas wrote on his Facebook page. “Le Mans, the Nürburgring, Sebring, the American Le Mans Series. We had incredible moments!
“With you, I had the chance to have a great teammate, a very applied driver and I learned a lot by your side.
“People often said that we were inseparable: same size, same weight, same seat… there was truth in this and, among all the memories, there is this Long Beach pit stop that is one of the many stories we could tell.”