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Timo Bernhard On The #919Tribute’s Nordschleife Run

Respecting Bellof's achievements

What can you tell us about the run last week with the #919Tribute on the Nordschleife?

“At this point it is just a test, we only had half a day, just three and a half hours of track time. We ran way less than that of course but there was a lot to do.

“It was about gathering data, it’s just preparation, and to even see if it possible to use the car for such an attempt.”

Does the track suit the car?

“But we have to admit we did a lot of preparation work beforehand, so it wasn’t a five minutes job, just to arrive, unload, and head out onto the track. There was a lot of preparation and a lot of thinking!”

And is there a date, or even a window, for a record run?

“No, not yet.”

Is there any doubt in your mind that, if it all comes together, we’re going to see the record shattered?

“I’m not thinking so much about it. We’re not thinking about a lap time that we have to do.

“It’s just to showcase what a car like this can do. I think it’s a cool project. When a manufacturer does something like this, and you produce the video material, it’s something for younger people. They play games, they have PlayStation, and for them, the Nordschleife is the ultimate track. It’s an inspiration.”

Having run already at some speed on at least part of the track is it fun, or is it mildly terrifying?

“Oh yes, it’s very much fun, but also, with this car, and in particular on this track it is the quickest you’ll ever go. On this track, you really feel that it’s ultra fun, but you’re also aware that it’s very, very quick.

“It’s tremendous to be a part of this.”

And what about those who say that this effort doesn’t respect the history books?

“You always have to have full respect for the track, and also to recognise the challenge.

“Everybody knows that, in my youth, I was a great fan of Stefan Bellof. I admired him, and I’m in contact with the family.

“We speak from time to time, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago, and that’s also important for me. (Stefan Bellof set the current lap record for the Nordschleife in 1983, driving a Porsche 956, but was tragically killed during the 1985 1000 Kilometres of Spa.).

“In the end, it’s not to break the record, not to take away something, but it’s to showcase something.

“I think, from a driver’s point of view, you have more appreciation of what Stefan did, thirty-five years ago, with this car (the Porsche 956), on this track, which was even bumpier than it is today, and through traffic, it was not a clean lap. He didn’t go out at the right time, in perfect conditions, but it was a race weekend with other cars on the track.

“It highlights even more how astonishing it was, to set that time (of 6 minutes, 25.91 seconds).

“I think running there with car highlights how huge his achievement was, and takes nothing away from it at all.”