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BERNHARD: Spa Debrief

Porsche’s Timo Bernhard files his latest Sportscar365 column following Spa…

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

It’s only a two-hour drive from my hometown in Germany across the boarder to the track in the Ardennes mountains in Spa-Francorchamps.

Like many other drivers, Spa is also amongst my favorite tracks on the calendar and even though there have been some changes over the years and to make it safer, its character has remained untouched.

It is a difficult track and requires precise setup work. The weather is the biggest factor in Spa as it can change within minutes and you can have it raining and drying at either end of the track.

I raced with a special helmet design this year in Spa in memory of Stefan Bellof, who had a fatal accident there 30 years ago.

I’ve always been fascinated by his light-heartedness and pure speed. Racing in his helmet design was an appreciation from racing driver to racing driver and for what he achieved in his career.

Spa was also the first time we had three cars on the grid and it was a bit unusual to see them all lined up next to each other in the garage.

On Thursday in practice we only had limited running due to the adverse conditions on track with a lot of standing water and very poor visibility, which made it hard to see the slower cars and we finished both sessions early.

We finally got some running in the dry on Friday morning during the third practice session which was important to get a feel for the car in these conditions too.

Brendon and I were on duty for the qualifying in the afternoon which couldn’t have gone any better.

We both posted strong lap times and after returning to the pits we had to wait for the remaining time to countdown to see that none of the other cars managed to go quicker which secured us our second consecutive pole of the season, with both our sister Porsches coming in right behind us in second and third.

It was a fantastic result for the team and proof to the hard work and dedication everyone is putting in day after day. I dedicated my qualifying lap to Stefan Bellof. He was a thoroughbred racing driver who still deserves the utmost respect today and I felt honored to be racing in his colors.

Brendon started the race on Saturday and got away to a good start pulling out a gap to our sister cars behind. We were leading, despite a stop and go penalty, until we hit a problem with the rear suspension which required a stop for repairs.

Mark did a great job catching up and getting past a few cars climbing closer to the podium.

It was great team work, we never gave up and gave it our best and at least finished on the podium.

All eyes are now on Le Mans and at the test towards the end of the month we will keep pushing to prepare as best as we possibly can for the big day.

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