2017 FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Nurburgring Race - Race Photography
Porsche LMP Team, Porsche 919 Hybrid, LMP1, #2, Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber, Brendon Hartley, <br />
FIA World Endurance Championship <br />
Nurburgring  <br />
Germany  <br />
© Craig Robertson

Porsche took a competitive one-two finish around the Nurburgring for the 6 Hours of Nurburgring. Toyota Gazoo Racing had no response for the pace Porsche displayed with their high downforce aero kit. Oliver Jarvis, Ho Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent converted their inherited pole position to their second six-hour victory of the season.

Toyota #8 race instantly became a race of damage limitation as Sebastien Buemi slowed on the formation lap. A fuel pump failure saw the championship-contenting Toyota forced into the pits before the green flag dropped so the part could be replaced. They finished the race classifying fourth overall but five laps down. This lost them 13 points to the winning Porsche #2 in the World Endurance Drivers’ Championship.

After the first hour of the race, it became a Porsche vs Porsche battle. The Toyota did not have the pace to keep up with the high downforce Porsches, revealing a weakness in the team’s hope to battle for the championships. This was the first race weekend that both LMP1 teams ran the high-downforce aero kits and it was clear at the start of the weekend that Porsche had an edge. That edge translated to nearly a lap-long lead at the chequered flag, indicating Toyota have a lot of work to do if they want to have any chance of stopping Porsche from walking away with both titles again this season. Both of the Porsche was suffering from a lot of rubber pick up and aero degradation during the laps, that created a “yo-yo” effect for which Porsche was leading the race. Every stint the lead Porsche would swap around. This lead to an intense fight at the end of the race. With both cars dropping off and gaining rapidly on each other at the top and end of each hour it was difficult to tell who would come out on top. Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber took victory over the sister car by 1.6 seconds.

Jackie Chan DC Racing, Oreca 07-Gibson, LMP2, #38, Ho-Pin Tung, Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent, <br />
FIA World Endurance Championship <br />
Nurburgring  <br />
Germany  <br />
© Craig Robertson

As the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing disappeared into the distance for an easy class win, the battles for the rest of the podium raged on behind them. Vaillante Rebellion had shown great pace all weekend and was hot in the fight for the podium. Bruno Senna, Juilien Canal and Filipe Alburquerque took second comfortably with a 28 second lead on the third-place finishers.

It was the stunning stints from Nicolas Lapierre and Tristian Gommendy that put the #36 Signatech Alpine in prime position to fight the second Rebellion for the bottom step of the podium. Coming off of Gommenday and Gustavo Menezes‘ hard work, Lapierre was able to pass the #13 and extend an advantage that Mathias Beche could not rival. In their last confirmed race for this season, the #4 ByKolles Racing had a quiet race that saw them classify 14th overall. There were no incidents or periods in the garage for the team as they completed a simple lights to flag race.

Only one car retired from the 6 Hours of Nurburgring. Damage on the #35 Signatech was too extensive to be able to repair before the end of the race. They officially retired from the endurance event just before the halfway point.

AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE, LMGTE Pro, #51, James Calado, Allesandro Pier Guidi, <br />
FIA World Endurance Championship <br />
Nurburgring  <br />
Germany  <br />
© Craig Robertson

From the start of the weekend, the LM GTE classes promised an incredible battle for class victories. Ferrari and Porsche looked to have the advantage on the field and were the favourites to win. It came as no surprise that AF Corse took victory in the Pro class whilst Dempsey Proton Racing took the glory in Am, but the track action that led to these results had spectators on the edge of their seats.

AF Corse and Porsche GT Team had a tough battle for the lead of class in the first hour. Frederic Makowiecki came out on top of that battle to see the Porsche get ahead. However, around the halfway mark James Calado pulled off a stunning move passed the then-leading #91 Porsche GT to claim the class victory. There looked like there would be another inter-team battle between Porsches as Kevin Estre was closing in on the sister car #92 with Richard Lietz on board. However there were not enough laps for Estre to demote Lietz and Makowiecki off the second step of the podium.

At the back of the grid was the battle of BOP. Championship rivals #97 Aston Martin Racing and #67 Ford Chip Ganassi kept ending up nose to tail on track. However, it is assumed that the BoP advantage Aston had coming into this weekend gave them a pace advantage on the straights. Daniel Serra kept both the #66 and #67 at bay for a long duration of time by driving defensively and using the extra pace they had on the straights to get far enough ahead that Ford could not challenge them. Olivier Pla had to get very clever with his driving line, compromising his entrance into corner to get a much better exit to try and get closer to the Aston so their pace advantage did not matter. In the end, the #67 lead the trio over the line, taking up fifth, sixth and seventh in class. This gives Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx an extra four points in the championship battle with Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Serra as we head into the summer break.

Aston Martin Racing, Aston Martin Vantage, LMGTE Am, #98, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda, <br />
FIA World Endurance Championship <br />
Nurburgring  <br />
Germany  <br />
© Craig Robertson

The fight for the lead in Am was exhilarating from green flag to chequered. From pole, the #98 Aston Martin Racing car of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda lead the way, gaining just over a minute advantage on the field by the 90-minute mark. But Porsche and Ferrari had proven through the practice sessions that they has better pace this weekend, and the race was no exception. Matteo Cairoli was a man on a mission as he chased down the #98 in the second half of the race. With a better pace, he managed to pass the Aston Martin and extend a competitive lead to the end of the race. But Miguel Molina also saw his opportunity this weekend. Within the final hour of the race, Molina in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari was in hot pursuit of at least a podium, if not the class win. He deposited the Clearwater Racing #61 with ease before chasing down Dalla Lana for the second step of the podium. The Aston Martin had no power in which to stop the rapid pace of the Spanish driver and he cut down an 18 second lead to a 4.6 second lead in 30 minutes. Had there have been an extra five minutes of the race the Dempsey-Proton Porsche and the Spirit of Race Ferrari would at least crossed the line nose to tail.