Porsche in second position and with problems

M16_2429After midnight in Le Mans the number 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE) was running in second position at the Le Mans 24-Hours race. The number 1 sister car of Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU) was pushed into the garage at 23:13 hrs because the water temperatures was too high. After a water pump change, Hartley tried to rejoin the race, but had to return to the pits again. The team is still working to get the Porsche 919 Hybrid back on track.

How the race has gone so far:
In the early evening the second driver changes had been due for the Porsche Team. Webber took over the leading number 1 car after 50 laps at 18:25 hrs. One lap later, Dumas jumped out of the number 2 sister car to hand it over to Lieb, who continued in fourth position.

Both drivers did a triple stint. Webber stopped for fuel after 63 and 76 laps. After 89 laps he handed the leading 919 back to start driver Bernhard, who received fresh slick tyres. Lieb came in after 64 and 77 laps for refuelling. At the driver and tyre change after 90 laps he was in third position. Jani got behind the wheel again at 20:49 hrs.

On lap 96 Bernhard lost around 45 seconds to the number 6 Toyota when he had to go through a “slow zone” while the Toyota was in the pits. In return, when Bernhard’s next pit stop was due, only 80 km/h was allowed on parts of the track. Such circumstances continuously caused the gaps between the cars to expand and close also for Jani.

After Bernhard was very unlucky again with a long slow zone, which ended when Jani approached and the Swiss did faster lap times, the two Porsches swapped positions on lap 121 at 22:42 hrs. Now Jani was second behind the Toyota with Bernhard on his heels.

Bernhard refuelled after 102 and 115 laps. After he wasn’t satisfied anymore with the tyre performance, it was decided to do a tyre change after 128 laps when Bernhard handed over to Hartley. Only one lap later the Kiwi had to pit again because of the water temperatures was too high, and the car was pushed back in the garage at 23:13 hrs.

Meanwhile Jani did the Porsche Team’s first quadruple stint. He refuelled after 103, 116 and 129 laps. After 143 laps at 00:13 hrs he handed over the leading car to Dumas.

While the Porsche 919 Hybrid refuelled after every 13 laps, Toyota benefitted from a 14-lap interval.

Timo Bernhard (35, Germany):
(9 races: overall victory 2010, overall second 2015, class victory GT 2002)
“In the beginning we were able to extend the lead, but then first Mark and then I had massive bad luck with the slow zones, which gave us a huge disadvantage. But the car was good.”

Mark Webber (39, Australia):
(4 participations: overall second in 2015, not racing in 1998 and 1999)
“All went very cleanly, the car was in good shape and my team mates were doing great. I had a good first stint and a strong second one. The third stint wasn’t as good, because I kept catching traffic in every lap at the Porsche Curves. But until we had the water temperature go too high it was all good.”

Neel Jani (32, Switzerland):
(7 races: qualifying record lap and 5th place overall 2015)
“I had a super start to my stint when I was able to do a 3:21-lap. But then it was a bit frustrating, because I always caught traffic in the wrong places and wasn’t lucky with the yellow zones. But then suddenly it was the other way round and I was able to catch up. Now we are back in the race for the lead. The last part of my quadruple stint wasn’t pleasant for the front tyres, but we had to try something in order to catch up.”

Marc Lieb (35, Germany):
(10 races: 5th place overall 2015, class victories GTE 2013, GT2 2010, GT 2005)
“I was the third driver in the car and had a good triple stint. In the beginning we lost quite a bit of time in the slow zones, but then the situation improved. We have a good car and we aim to take it forward.”

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