Bringing factory racing drivers out of retirement could be one of the more unusual side effects from COVID-19.
Timo Bernhard and Jörg Bergmeister both hung up their helmets last year, after successful careers driving for Porsche.
Yet this weekend’s Nürburgring 24 Hour endurance race has seen the retired duo drafted back into action at short notice.
Health and safety precautions come first
The reason for Porsche turning to old hands came after last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hour race.
When three team members tested positive for Coronavirus at the French event, the company opted to send a reduced contingent for the German race.
This has affected a number of Porsche customer teams, with the race-winning Manthey-Racing outfit having to withdraw. Porsche will still be well represented on the grid though.
Two decades of camaraderie
For the #18 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R, a group of four experienced drivers have been brought together. This includes Le Mans 24 Hour winner Earl Bamber, and Intercontinental GT champion Dennis Olsen.
The foursome is completed by Timo Bernhard and Jörg Bergmeister, who first began their Porsche racing careers nearly two decades ago. The German duo’s first factory-backed race came in the 2002 24 Hours of Daytona, where they took GT class victory.
Bernhard has a prodigious association with the Nürburgring, having won the 24 Hour race five times with Porsche. He also holds the record for the outright Nordschleife lap record, set in 2018 with the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo.
Giving something back to the company
Despite initial hesitations about childcare and appointments, both drivers agreed to race this weekend. Bergmeister was happy to help as he feels he should “give back a little bit when there are situations like this”.
Bernhard added Porsche “has done a lot for me in the past and I think now there’s a chance to return something. The spirit that we have at Porsche is that we’re not individuals, but a team.”
Having only retired from racing last year, both drivers should still be in peak fitness. Although Bernhard added the caveat that he may “look slow this weekend because I haven’t done 100 laps before the race”.
The 2020 Nürburgring 24 Hour begins on Saturday 26th September, having been delayed from the usual May date. Live coverage of the full race is available on the ADAC YouTube channel.
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