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Nürburgring Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from 6H Nurburgring…

Photo: Porsche

***Sunday’s Six Hours of Nürburgring saw mixed emotions in the Porsche LMP1 camp, with team orders ultimately deciding the outcome of the race. The then race-leading No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Andre Lotterer took on a full fuel load on his final pit stop with 15 minutes remaining, handing the lead to the championship-leading No. 2 car of Timo Bernhard, who had a 20-second faster stop.

***Reigning World Champion Neel Jani, who along with Lotterer and Nick Tandy lost out on the win, said post-race: “At the end, I told Andre he could drive back home in the car because he has so much fuel!” Lotterer, meanwhile, was visibly frustrated in the post-race press conference and only had select words for the assembled media.

***Porsche’s decision has seen Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber extend their lead in the Drivers’ World Championship to 30 points over Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, who salvaged a fourth place finish after suffering a fuel pump failure on the formation lap.

***Both of the Porsches swapped the lead throughout the race, due to aero degradation issues that impacted their performance, according to team principal Andreas Seidl. “More than once today we had problems with rubber pick-up that got stuck in the bodywork,” he said. “This caused changing performances of our cars until we were able to clean the parts again at the pit stops.”

***Bernhard, however, admitted to driving a conservative final stint, often lapping two to three seconds slower than Lotterer, prior to and after the final round of pit stops, which orchestrated the position swap. “The last hours was to bring it home, to not use any curbs. That was the main focus,” Bernhard told Sportscar365.

***It marked Bernhard and Hartley’s third consecutive win at the Nürburgring, while Bamber’s first overall win in a six-hour WEC race after his two Le Mans triumphs in 2015 and 2017.

***While able to match the Porsches on single-lap pace, the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids struggled in double-stint runs, which severely impacted the No. 7 car of Jose Maria Lopez during his stint. “Somehow we started to lose ground, it was pretty hard to do our best, especially in the second stint. I tried to fight in the end with Neel but It was a hard race for us,” he said.

***The third place finish for the No. 7 Toyota, however, still resulted in Lopez’s first WEC podium, coming just a day after the Argentinean’s first pole position in his first qualifying attempt.

***Toyota lodged post-race protests against both Porsches, for cleaning the cars’ mirrors during refueling. The protests, however, were rejected by the stewards, as the WEC Sporting Regulations (Article 10.8.4) permit such an activity, for safety reasons.

***Kamui Kobayashi was bizarrely stung by a wasp on entry into the post-race press conference room. It prompted a remark by co-driver Mike Conway saying that the Japanese driver had a “sting in his tail” on the track in his early race-leading stint, which put the Toyota out front.

***Both LMP2 cars that served lengthy stop-and-hold penalties for previous incidents, as expected, never factored into the race, with the No. 26 G-Drive Oreca 07 Gibson, which had a three-minute penalty for an incident at Le Mans involving Roman Rusinov, finishing three laps behind in 6th. Team manager Xavier Combet said they would have finished 2nd in class had it not been for the penalty.

***The No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing entry, meanwhile, was classified 9th in class after its seven-minute penalty due to Jonathan Hirshi failing to slow down and causing an incident while under a red flag in Free Practice 2 on Friday. The Swiss driver said post-race: “With the penalty it was more like an extended test.”

***While Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell have maintained their lead in the GT World Drivers’ Championship, Ford and Ferrari are now at a dead heat, with each 135 points, in the manufacturer’s title race heading into the next round at Mexico City in September.

***Sam Bird’s contractual obligations that resulted him in contesting the Formula E event in New York City instead paid dividends, as the Englishman swept the weekend with wins on both Saturday and Sunday. His No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE finished 25th overall and last in the GTE-Pro class, in the hands of super sub Toni Vilander and co-driver Davide Rigon after making two seperate trips to the garage with gearbox compressor issues.

***With their first class win of the season, the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing trio of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst are now tied for the lead of the GTE-Am Drivers’ Championship with Clearwater Racing’s Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Weng Sun Mok, all at 88 points apiece.

***The win marked the first for WEC stalwart and Proton team boss Ried since Bahrain 2012 ,with Porsche Young Professional Cairoli picking up his first victory, along with Silver-rated Dienst.

***The future of Signatech Alpine’s No. 35 entry remains unclear, with the French squad yet to decide whether it will contest additional races this season. It’s understood the car will still travel with the team for the remainder of the year, since its transportation package has already been paid for. It’s believed a driver change could occur in the No. 36 car, which is confirmed for the full season.

***The reported weekend attendance was 52,000, down from the 58,000 spectators from last year and the 62,000 for the inaugural event in 2015.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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