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BERNHARD: Nürburgring Debrief

Timo Bernhard checks into Sportscar365 after victory at Nurburgring…

Photo: Porsche

Photo: Porsche

The ‘Ring has a special place in my heart, not only because it’s close to home but also because of all the beautiful moments and success I’ve had there in the past.

Each of the five overall wins at the 24-hour race was a milestone in my career. I went there in 1986 for the first time with my dad when he raced a Golf1 GTI in the VLN endurance championship and I have fond memories of the place.

Things have often worked out for me in the Eifel mountains. In 2000/2001 I did four Carrera Cup races – and won three of them from pole. It was always fun to drive the GT cars around there, it’s a very technical circuit but now in the LMP1 cars it’s even better than expected.

There are some really challenging corners, some of them have camber hanging to the outside and you have to think carefully of how to position the car there.

Ahead of the race we tested a new high downforce aero package in Barcelona to prepare the car for the Nürburgring track. Around 80 percent of the bodywork was new which also makes the car look significantly different compared to its low downforce aero spec we had for the straights at Le Mans.

The atmosphere was great all weekend with a big crowd of fans turning up to watch us race. It’s great for us drivers to see that huge interest in the series and it’s testimony to the rising popularity of the championship that has produced some exciting racing this season.

Practice on Friday saw some changing weather conditions in the morning but when I went out in the first session the track was drying. In the second session Brendon did most of the work, then Mark jumped in and I only did a few laps at the end.

There was quite a bit of action with spinning cars in front of me and others in the gravel. We also had a good run in practice 3 on Saturday morning.

Qualifying is always exciting, I enjoy the adrenaline build up to that one lap push. Our sister car No. 18 put the car on pole and Mark and I completed the front row for Porsche which was a great result. I was happy with my lap, Mark unfortunately never really had a clear one with no traffic.

You couldn’t have asked for better conditions on Sunday for the thousands of fans that came to see us race in glorious weather. We had a good start from P2 behind the sister car but lost a bit of time with slow lapped cars when we had a Full Course Yellow.

Our first stop came earlier than expected. A broken carbon piece at the front meant I couldn’t go the pace because I lost a lot of downforce and balance. We had to change the nose and things improved – we had a good pace and were able to fight back and close the gap to the front.

Brendon took the lead on lap 64 when our sister car 18 was penalized and from then we drove a solid race and brought home the win.

Mark and Brendon did a great job and all the team worked very hard over the summer. It certainly is a special victory for us in front of our home crowd.

The fans really welcomed the WEC in a special way in Germany and it was a great display for the country and the motorsports enthusiasm. I heard over 60,000 fans attended the race weekend and that was certainly reflected in the atmosphere! It’s a great venue and has to stay on the calendar.

The Nürburgring continues to be a special track for me, I won so many things there and now the first WEC victory in Porsche’s home race – it couldn’t be any better.

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