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Bernhard: Breaking Bellof Record a “Great Moment”

Timo Bernhard says breaking racing hero Stefan Bellof’s Nurburgring record was a “great moment”…

Photo: Porsche

Timo Bernhard says that breaking Stefan Bellof’s long-standing record at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo was a “great moment”.

The two-time Le Mans winner shattered the previous best set 35 years ago by Bellof in a Porsche 956C by 51 seconds, with a time of  5:19.55 in the historic run Friday morning.

Bernhard achieved a top speed of 229.5 miles per hour and averaged just over 145 mph during the run, which took place under clear conditions.

“This is a great moment for me and for the entire team – the 919 program’s icing on the cake,” said Bernhard. “The Evo was perfectly prepared and I have done my best on this lap.

“Thanks to the aerodynamic downforce, at sections I never imagined you can stay on full throttle.

“I’m pretty familiar with the Nordschleife. But today I got to learn it in a new way.

“For me, Stefan Bellof is and remains a giant. Today my respect for his achievement with the technology available back then increased even more.”

Bernhard was selected to attempt the record due to his four victories at the Nurburgring 24, which uses the Nordschleife loop along with the southern Grand Prix circuit.

The 37-year-old’s ultimate time, which came after a handful of trial runs, marked Porsche’s second successful attempt at breaking an outright lap record after Neel Jani set a new overall best around Spa-Francorchamps in April.

As was the case for the Spa attempt, the 919 Hybrid Evo ran without the fuel flow and aerodynamic restrictions put in place by the WEC during the car’s time in LMP1.

The removal of fuel flow restrictors meant the turbocharged V4 engine could be turned up from 500 horsepower to 720, while the lifting of the WEC’s energy recovery requirements meant its electric motor could be revised to produce 10 percent more power than usual.

It also ran with 53 percent of additional downforce, owing to a heavily upgraded aero package consisting of a larger front diffuser and rear wing, which was mounted with a DRS system.

“As a race team we constantly search for challenges that push a car, driver and team to operate on the limit,” said Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl.

“Conquering the ‘Green Hell’ definitely provided such a challenge.

“Since last winter we were preparing for that task together with our tire partner Michelin – painstakingly and with a great deal of respect for this track. Today we have shown the full potential of the 919 Evo.

“Congratulations to Timo for his sensational drive. Being a record winner at the Nürburgring, Timo was the logical choice for the job. 

“Balancing attack and caution at all times were mandatory on this circuit. Safety is the highest priority.

“In this regard, I also like to thank the Nurburgring team. Record attempts wouldn’t be possible without the highly professional track support.”

The Porsche ‘919 Tribute’ tour will make its next stop at Spa for the Fun Cup event on July 6-7, before heading to the UK for two engagements at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Brands Hatch Festival of Porsche in July.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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