24 Hours of Le Mans (LMP1) - after 15 hours
Great Team Effort – Porsche 919 Hybrid still leads when morning breaks
With long intervals between the tyre changes, strong driver performances and extraordinarily quick pit stops, the Porsche Team drove through the night. At six in the morning the Porsche 919 Hybrid of Earl Bamber/Nico Hülkenberg/Nick Tandy was still in the lead of what is an outstandingly competitive 24-hour race at Le Mans.
During the night all three Porsche 919 Hybrids did quadruple stints – they used four fuel fills before changing tyres and drivers. Car number 17 was in the hands of Timo Bernhard from the end of lap 136 (23:44 hrs) until the end of lap 188 at 02:47 hrs. Brendon Hartley took over with the car lying fourth. At 05:47 hrs Mark Webber took over again with the car still in fourth position.
For car number 18 the race continued to provide some difficulties. Brake stability continued to be tricky and, after Romain Dumas hit a barrier late in the evening, Neel Jani also found himself off the track and in the gravel. He was able to continue and handed over the car at 01:21 hrs on Sunday to Marc Lieb after 162 laps. The German kept driving until the end of lap 214 when, at 04:23 hrs, Romain Dumas jumped in again with the car in sixth position.
Meanwhile the Le Mans Rookie car, the car number 19 Porsche, continued leading the race. At 00:13 hrs Nick Tandy took over from Nico Hülkenberg, who had also done a quadruple stint. The Brit stayed at the wheel until the end of lap 197 and handed it over – still leading – at 03:16 hrs to Earl Bamber.
Timo Bernhard (car number 17): “The speed in this race is outstanding and we are able to go at it. It is a shame we have lost so much time because of the one-minute stop and go penalty on Saturday night, but we never give up. The car feels good and on my quadruple stint tyre wear was fine.“
Mark Webber (car number 17): “Most of us had a little bit of adversity here and there through different things, whether it’s a penalty, or a mistake, or difficulties here and there. We’re running fourth at the moment and we’re only seconds off the lead. There is a lot of racing to go yet. The car feels good. The brake pedal got a little bit long in the middle of my stint, but that all tidied itself up quickly. Audi has a little bit of an advantage on the track, but we are very quick in the pits, so we are gaining track time back. We are experiencing an awesome showcase of racing here with sports cars with different technologies and strong drivers. We are fighting for every inch, it is fantastic and it could go on a lot longer. So we’re going to stay sharp.”
Neel Jani (car number 18): “I went straight once and got stuck in the gravel. We do have difficulties with the brakes. This is a bit of a shame because we cannot attack as we would like to. But regardless of this, we are trying to keep a good pace up and stay well in the race.”
Marc Lieb (car number 18): “The traffic really was a bit wild at times. There were moments when the marshals couldn’t decide if they should show yellow or green flags. It was dangerous and in such a situation in the afternoon the Audi crashed. I lost time at that incident myself. Then unfortunately I got stuck in the second safety car train, which cost me further time. That was a bit frustrating. Apart from some issues with braking, the car is running okay. My recent quadruple stint went alright as well. We just have to focus on our race now and get the most out of it.”
Nico Hülkenberg (car number 19): “I really like the night. That was the case in testing and it’s the same here. There is a special atmosphere at night that suits me and that feels great. The car is now handling extremely well. It has improved a lot compared to the daylight hours. I feel perfect in the car. We have now driven our first quadruple stint, which is important for the race developing, and I still feel fresh and motivated.”
Nick Tandy (car number 19): “Honestly the car is really working well now. The colder track and air temperatures are good for the engine. The tyres are proving to be amazingly good on performance over a lot of laps, which is the most pleasing thing, as we can do four fuel stints with one set of tyres and still be very competitive at the end of it. The night is a very good part of the race, and it was a whole lot of fun to drive the car at that sort of speed."
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