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FEATURE: Porsche’s path to WEC glory

Gordon Lomas

Monday 2nd November, 2015 - 2:59pm

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Porsche seal WEC Manufacturer's crown in Shanghai with a round to spare

Porsche seal WEC Manufacturer’s crown in Shanghai with a round to spare

Porsche added to its remarkable sportscar record by securing the Manufacturers’ title in the FIA World Endurance Championship during a soggy 6 Hours of Shanghai.

Another one-two finish by the pair of 919 Hybrid machines headed by drivers’ points leaders Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, saw the leviathan Weissach operation seal the title.

In only its second season racing the class-topping 8MJ armed 919s which are considered to be the most technologically advanced competition cars ever made, Porsche is now on the brink of double WEC celebrations.

Webber, Hartley and Bernhard will go into the final round at Bahrain from November 19-21 with a 12-point advantage over their only rivals for the crown, the #7 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer.

Armed with a hybrid system which generates energy recovery from both braking from the front axle and the exhaust, the 2-litre four cylinder turbo-charged combustion engine combined with the advanced lithium-ion battery is good for 1000bhp.

The timeline of how Porsche started on a journey to add to its first world sports car crown in 1986.

1. Late 2011

Recruiting begins. Fritz Enzinger (vice-president of Porsche’s LMP1 program) plus five more employees.

2. 2012

An office building and the workshop are built. 

Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas are announced as the first drivers.

3. June, 2013

Roll-out of the first 919 Hybrid at the test ground in Weissach with Timo Bernhard at the wheel.

4. Second half, 2013

Testing on various race tracks in different countries.

Team preparation in Weissach ramps up. This has included among other key elements, 1053 pitstops practiced.

Drivers Neel Jani, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Marc Lieb are announced.

The team grows to 230 people.

Alexander Hitzinger is Technical Director, Andreas Seidl becomes Team Principal.

5. February, 2014

The driver combinations are confirmed: Webber/Hartley/Bernhard and Dumas/Jani/Lieb for the two full-time entries.

6. March, 2014

Porsche unveils the 919 Hybrid alongside the 911 RSR at the Geneva Motor Show.

7. April, 2014

The Porsche 919s make their WEC debut in the opening round at the 6 Hours of Silverstone with Webber, Hartley and Bernhard finishing third.

8. May, 2014

First pole position in the second race: 
Jani/Lieb are fastest in qualifying in Spa-Francorchamps.

9. June, 2014

The Le Mans 24 Hour debut sees Lieb running strongly in fourth before gearbox problems result in an 11th place finish.

Webber runs deep into the race, placing second before the engine failed.

The 919s had earlier experienced fuel and suspension problems before re-establishing themselves as competitive units.

10. October, 2014

At the Fuji round, Webber establishes the fastest race lap in another first for the 919 Hybrid.

11. November, 2014

The 919s score their first double podium with Dumas, Jani and Lieb second ahead of Bernhard, Hartley and Webber.

12. November, 2014

Porsche plans a third 919 Hybrid entry in Spa and Le Mans for 2015.

13. November, 2014

Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg is announced as driver of the third 919 for Spa and Le Mans in 2015.

Dumas, Lieb, Jani supply Porsche with its first LMP1 WEC victory in Brazil

Dumas, Lieb, Jani supply Porsche with its first LMP1 WEC victory in Brazil

14. November 2014

Porsche qualifies 1-2 in Brazil, the fourth pole for the 919.

The Dumas, Jani, Lieb machine takes the historic first win for the Hybrid.

Late in the race Webber is involved in a massive crash and is admitted to hospital for several days suffering from bruising and a headache.

15. December, 2014

Lieb turns laps of the upgraded 2015 Hybrid at Weissach.

Porsche enter a third 919 for Spa and Le Mans this year. The move would prove a masterstroke

Porsche enter a third 919 for Spa and Le Mans this year. The move would prove a masterstroke

16. February, 2015

Kiwi Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy are confirmed to join Hulkenberg in the third 919.

17. March, 2015

The second generation 919 heads to Paul Ricard for the WEC prologue.

18. April, 2015

Pole for Webber, Hartley and Bernhard and second for Dumas, Jani and Lieb in Round 1 at Silverstone.

19. May, 2015

Webber, Hartley and Bernhard lead Porsche to a sweep of top three positions in qualifying at Spa.

The pole sitters finish third with Dumas, Jani and Lieb second behind the #7 Audi.

LMP1 rookies Bamber/Hülkenberg/Tandy finish sixth.

20. June, 2015

Ominous signs in first qualifying at Le Mans with records broken, Jani clocks 3:16.88s ahead of Bernhard.

In the second qualifying at night Tandy secures third.

The race sees Bamber, Hulkenberg and Tandy take the 17th overall Le Mans victory for Porsche leading home the more fancied Webber, Hartley and Bernhard.

#19 beats #17 in a Porsche 1-2 in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic

#19 beats #17 in a Porsche 1-2 in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic

Porsche now leads the manufacturers’ points table.

21. August, 2015

With a new higher downforce aero package the #17 of Webber, Hartley and Bernhard lead a Porsche one-two at the Nurburgring.

22. September, 2015

A second victory for the #17 at the Circuit of the Americas with the #18 mired in fifth after electronic glitches.

23. October, 2015

The #17 takes charge of the drivers’ standings by one point after Porsche realises a third one-two at a wet Fuji circuit.

24. October, 2015   

The #17 claims a seventh pole from as many races this season.

25. November, 2015

From left, team principal Andreas Seidl, Hartley, Webber and Bernhard clinch a fourth straight win in Shanghai

From left, team principal Andreas Seidl, Hartley, Webber and Bernhard clinch a fourth straight win in Shanghai

Porsche moves to an unassailable 308 points to win the Manufacturer’s Championship at Shanghai with Audi left on 238 with one round remaining.

The #17 919 takes a fourth victory and moves to 12 points ahead of the #7 Audi in the drivers’ standings with a maximum of 26 points available at the final race in Bahrain.

With 15 races since the 919 debuted in WEC, Porsche has amassed 11 poles, six wins, four one-two finishes, four fastest laps and one WEC crown.

The Manufacturers’ title adds to Porsche’s efforts to win the titles in the former World Sportscar Championship in 1964, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986.

 

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