Neel Jani believes that the No. 18 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew will need two wins from the last four races to contend for the 2015 World Endurance Championship.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas, the Swiss driver is targeting a first win of the year for the No. 18 entry he shares with Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb, following a somewhat unlucky outing at the Nürburgring.
Jani watched his teammates in the Nos. 19 and 17 Porsche entries take victories at Le Mans and the Nürburgring, respectively, where despite accruing three penalties for exceeding fuel consumption, the No. 18 managed to recover to finish second in Germany.
“It was super-important that we finished second at the Nürburgring, because otherwise we would have been on the back foot in the championship,” Jani told Sportscar365.
“We’ve also seen that the No. 8 Audi will always have to let the No. 7 Audi pass, so if we can always finish 1-2, the No. 7 Audi will always finish third.
“The aim now is we have to win two of the next four races to really fight for the championship, which will not be easy since our team-mates are also fighting for the championship and they are quite strong as well.”
Having scored pole at Le Mans and the Nürburgring – setting a new circuit record at the former – Jani can count himself unlucky not to have tasted the victory champagne yet this season, particularly after pulling out a 40-second advantage in the opening stint at the Nürburgring.
However, he’s confident that the progress made by Porsche will soon bear fruit on the No. 18 car.
“Every position is super important and for sure we were disappointed that we couldn’t do more at the Nürburgring,” he said.
“Because with that huge lead after the first stint it was very clear that we just needed to finish the race and we were going to win. But obviously a lot can change during a six-hour race and it did change.
“But it’s very nice to see how far we’ve come, because I still remember how it was in 2013 to drive the car in private tests – where we are now, it’s a huge difference.
“The high-downforce aero-kit update Porsche brought from Le Mans to Nürburgring just shows how big of a step we can do even during the season. The progress has been amazing.”
Jani and co-drivers Dumas and Lieb hold a 19-point deficit to championship leaders Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, and only two points behind their Porsche teammates, heading into Saturday’s round in Texas.