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BERNHARD: Bahrain Debrief

Timo Bernhard files his final Sportscar365 column of season…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

Coming to Bahrain for the final race of the season, I won’t lie there was some pressure on us for sure.

Of course winning the Manufacturers’ title in Shanghai gave the whole team a big push and was a great achievement.

It has been an intense season and we had a great run in the last couple of races. No matter what was going to happen, it was in our own hands and we approached the race with the same focus we approached any other round.

Off the back of two wet races in Japan and China it was good to come to Bahrain as the weather is consistent there.

It’s most likely going to be dry and the strategy for the tire choice and timing of the pit stops wasn’t going to be affected by the weather as much.

The practice sessions went well and we improved our package for second practice.

The Audis were very strong and we knew we had to focus on our race set-up. With the high temperatures you need to keep the Michelin tires in good shape for as long as you possibly can.

The target for Saturday was to secure pole position and the extra point, which was important for us. Brendon and I shared driving duties and put the car on the first row.

I started the race on Saturday and had a very good get away and managed to pull a gap. Shortly into my first stint I could tell something wasn’t going according to plan when the engine wouldn’t go on throttle anymore and I had to box.

The guys were as quick as they could to fix the problem and I was back on track just over 8 minutes later and about 4 laps down. It was game on from them and I was making my way back up the field overtaking the GT cars and the LMP2s closing in on the LMP1s.

Brendon jumped in for the next stint and he kept his head down and focussed on catching up. He handed the car over to Mark in sixth place and when the No. 8 Audi had to box with an issue Mark was running in fifth.

When Mark took over the car was suffering and needed another repair job. Our sister car, who eventually went on to win the race, did a great job and eventually Mark brought the car home in 5th which secured us the world drivers’ title.

I had no idea going into this race it would be so nerve-wracking, I feel like I aged so much!

When I was out the car I think it was even harder, there were so many highs and lows, and it felt like it was going on forever.

I will never forget this season, which had so many great moments. We secured a double win for Porsche at Le Mans, won back-to-back races, secured the manufacturer’s title and now we are World Endurance Drivers’ Champions.

Mark, Brendon and I have developed a great friendship, and we’ve learnt from and pushed each other and to have achieved this with them is great.

I’ve been with Porsche for 17 years, they gave me the chance to become a professional racing driver and I’ve had a lot of success with them in the past.

I owe them a lot and with the drivers’ title a dream has come true.

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