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Porsche star Bernhard explains retirement decision

Gary Watkins
Porsche star Bernhard explains retirement call

Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Timo Bernhard made the decision to retire from the cockpit and become a Porsche ambassador in order to concentrate on team ownership.

Bernhard, whose new role was announced at the Porsche Night of Champions prize-giving last weekend, told Autosport that the "timing is right" to shift his focus to Team 75 Bernhard.

"I always said I wanted to stop when I was about 40 and I'm 39 in February," he said.

"The double role of driving and running a team is very difficult, so now is the time to focus on building up the team.

"It was an emotional decision because I have been with Porsche since 1999 when I was a junior driver doing the Carrera Cup in Germany, but I had to look to the next chapter of my life in motor racing."

Bernhard picked his outright Le Mans victory with Porsche together with Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber in 2017 as the highlight of a career that also yielded a pair of World Endurance Championship titles.

"It felt like everything came together for that dramatic race," said Bernhard, whose first Le Mans victory in 2010 came when he was on loan with Audi.

"An outright win at Le Mans was the last piece missing in my Porsche career."

Bernhard explained that Team 75 Bernhard, which he runs with his father Rudiger, is expanding for 2020.

Porsche star Bernhard explains retirement call

As well as again fielding a pair of Porsche 911 GT3-Rs in ADAC GT Masters, it plans to run two rather than one car in the GT4 feeder series on the same bill.

Bernhard is also establishing a karting squad in-house for next season after linking up with another team in 2019.

Alex Tauscher, who raced under the Junior Team 75 banner this year, will graduate to cars aboard one of Bernhard's Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports in 2020.

"We are trying to build a nice progression so we can bring people through from karting," said Bernhard.

He explained that the decision marked the end of his professional career, but he didn't rule out taking part in the odd rally or hillclimb for fun.

Bernhard ruled out driving one of his own GT3 cars, even in a repeat of his 2018 and '19 attempts to win the Spa 24 Hours.

He was bidding to become the first driver to take outright victories in all four major 24-hour races, Spa, Le Mans, Daytona and the Nurburgring.

"I didn't win Spa as a driver, so now I will have to win it as a team owner," he said.

Porsche veteran Jorg Bergmeister, who has also accepted an ambassadorial role with Porsche, has admitted that he might race again for pleasure.

The 43-year-old, a five-time class champion in the American Le Mans Series, said: "I'd like to do Le Mans one more time, and I might end up doing a three or four races a year, single races at circuits I like."

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