Following the podium finish at the season’s opener in Silverstone, the new Porsche 919 Hybrid came fourth at the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Drivers Romain Dumas (France), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Marc Lieb (Germany) had started with the car no. 14 from pole position for the six hour race and was the leading car for a long time. But then incidents cost time. An electric problem required a reset by Dumas while he was driving and on the final laps Jani had an extra pit stop due to a puncture.
The race day for the sister car no. 20 of Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and Mark Webber (Australia) was even less lucky. They had started fifth, improved immediately to third but then were hampered by technical problems and dropped back to the end of the field.
“The first few laps from Timo were really good but then we have had a couple of technical issues today," commented Hartley. "I think the team has managed the repairs very well as the car never spent too much time in the garage.”
Nevertheless, the newly formed Porsche Team managed to achieve the main target for the weekend which was finishing the race with both LMP1 cars. The speed of the Porsche 919 Hybrid was convincing in Spa. For long periods of the race it was the fastest car on track. The overall fastest lap of the weekend was by Marc Lieb (1:59.887 minutes, free practice two). Neel Jani’s fastest qualifying lap (2:00.334 minutes) was the overall second fastest lap of the weekend.
“It was our main target to finish the race with both Porsche 919 Hybrids and this is what we have managed," commented Fritz Enzinger (LMP1 vice president). "But after we had achieved pole position and saw very good lap times in the race we certainly hoped for a better result. But due to the technical problems, especially on car no. 20, it wasn’t possible today.”
Alexander Hitzinger, Technical Director LMP1 said, “In car no. 14 we’ve had a false alarm which has switched off the hybrid system. Romain then had to do a time consuming reactivation procedure. We are very conservative when it comes to safety of our hybrid systems, so such a thing can happen and there is some homework to do."
"The Porsche no. 20 had problems with the rear dampers plus two failures of the front drive shaft. We knew this was a critical part and we are prepared to use stronger parts at the next test and in Le Mans. We have been fast in qualifying and in the race and brought both cars home – for us this was the most important target for the weekend.”
The FIA WEC now takes a break until the third round and highlight of the racing calendar, the 24 Hours of Le Mans 14 June 2014.
nz motor racing editor: benjamin carrell