Porsche’s trio of reigning WEC champions Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley overcame a stiff Audi challenge to claim their first win of the season in the 6 Hours of Nurburgring.

It was the first victory for the crew of the #1 Porsche 919 Hybrid since last year’s Shanghai race, as the trio led home the #8 Audi of Lucas di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval by 53.7 seconds.

The sister #7 R18 e-tron quattro of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler completed the top three, just a further 0.6s back to complete a double podium finish for Audi.

The #1 Porsche first took the lead at the end of the first hour after Bernhard stretched his opening stint two laps longer than Fassler, who had up to that stage repelled the German’s advances in a tense lead fight.

Taking over from Bernhard, Hartley suffered a small setback with a slow puncture that put the car off-sequence until the second Full Course Yellow of the race - which came in the third hour to allow marshals to clear debris.

The timing of the caution period played straight into the hands into the #2 Porsche crew of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani, who pitted during the FCY and rejoined with a cushion of 10 seconds over the #1 car, which stopped under green-flag conditions along with both Audis.

But the points-leading trio fell out of victory contention in an incident with a GTE Porsche towards the end of the penultimate hour, as Lieb earned the #2 crew a drive-through penalty for hitting Khaled Al-Qubaisi in the #88 Proton-run car at Turn 6.

Lieb was able to get the car back to the pits to hand over to Neel Jani, who served the drive-through before suffering bodywork damage in a fierce battle with Lotterer in the #7 Audi for third.

That resulted in another unscheduled visit to the pits to repair the left-rear bodywork, Jani bringing the points-leading #2 machine home in fourth place, 1m37s down on the winning #1 car.

Toyota ended up a distant fifth and sixth, suffering problems with both cars, but lacking the frontrunning pace of their German rivals.

The #5 TS050 Hybrid of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima was a lapped fifth, losing time with a change of front bodywork after contact with a backmarker, ahead of the #6 of Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, who lost five minutes with an engine issue.

Seventh overall was the only one of the three LMP1-L entries to be running at the flag, the #13 Rebellion R-One of Alexandre Imperatori, Matheo Tuscher and Dominik Kraihamer.

Both of the trio’s competitors, the #12 Rebellion and the #4 ByKolles CLM, succumbed to engine issues.

Signatech wins in LMP2 again

The LMP2 class was won by the #36 Signature Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, Gustavo Menezes and Stephane Richelmi, adding to their recent Le Mans 24 Hours victory.

It had been the #26 G-Drive Oreca of Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Alex Brundle that dominated until encountering what turned out to be a terminal gearbox problem in the third hour.

That handed the advantage to the #42 Strakka Gibson, which gradually faded from contention when newcomer Lewis Williamson handed over the car to Nick Leventis.

At this stage, the Signatech crew assumed a lead they would maintain to the finish, although the French squad came under pressure from the #43 RGR Sport Ligier of Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque and Ricardo Gonzalez in the latter half of the race.

Despite a late off, the Mexican-entered car finished 16s adrift in second, while third place went to the #31 ESM Ligier of Pipo Derani, Chris Cumming and Ryan Dalziel, who held off the resurgent Strakka – in Jonny Kane's hands – by just 0.071s at the finish.

Manor lost a chance of a potential podium for the #45 car of Matt Howson, Richard Bradley and Roberto Merhi due to a brake disc failure in the final hour.

Ferrari takes 1-2 in GTE battle

Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado scored their first GTE Pro win of the year in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari, leading home a one-two finish for the Italian marque as Sam Bird and Davide Rigon brought home the #71 car in second.

Bruni took the lead away from the #95 Aston Martin of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorenson in the fourth hour, the Danish duo having controlled the race up until that point.

They then suffered the misfortune of a poorly timed caution period that allowed the #71 Ferrari and the #66 Ford to pass, although a late drive-through penalty for the American car driven by Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke, for a driver loosening his seatbelts too early in a pitstop, ensured that Thiim and Sorenson took third.

The sister #97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Richie Stanaway dropped away from the lead fight after having to replace a door in the first hour, while Ford's #67 entry was engulfed by a pit fire as Harry Tincknell attempted to swap over to Andy Priaulx in the second hour.

Aston Martin meanwhile took honours in GTE Am with the #98 machine of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana, 25 seconds up on the #78 KCMG Porsche.

UPDATE: The KCMG Porsche was later excluded from the results for a ride height infringement, handing second in the GTE Am class to the #83 AF CorseFerrari.

Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Gap
1 1  Mark Webber 
 Timo Bernhard 
 Brendon Hartley 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 194  
2 8  Lucas di Grassi 
 Loic Duval 
 Oliver Jarvis 
Audi R18 LMP1 194 53.787
3 7  Andre Lotterer 
 Marcel Fassler 
Audi R18 LMP1 194 54.483
4 2  Romain Dumas 
 Neel Jani 
 Marc Lieb 
Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 194 1'37.324
5 5  Anthony Davidson 
 Kazuki Nakajima 
 Sébastien Buemi 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 193 1 lap
6 6  Stéphane Sarrazin 
 Kamui Kobayashi 
 Mike Conway 
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 190 4 laps
7 13  Alexandre Imperatori 
 Dominik Kraihamer 
 Matheo Tuscher 
Rebellion R-One LMP1 178 16 laps
8 36  Nicolas Lapierre 
 Gustavo Menezes 
 Stéphane Richelmi 
Alpine A460 LMP2 178 36.256
9 43  Bruno Senna 
 Ricardo Gonzalez 
 Filipe Albuquerque 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 178 52.734
10 31  Pipo Derani 
 Ryan Dalziel 
 Chris Cumming 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 176 18 laps
11 42  Nick Leventis 
 Jonny Kane 
 Lewis Williamson 
Gibson 015S LMP2 176 0.071
12 44  Antonio Pizzonia 
 Matthew Howson 
 Tor Graves 
Oreca 05 LMP2 176 17.836
13 37  Vitaly Petrov 
 Viktor Shaytar 
 Kirill Ladygin 
BR01 LMP2 175 19 laps
14 35  Nelson Panciatici 
 Ho-Pin Tung 
 David Cheng 
Alpine A460 LMP2 175 28.842
15 27  Maurizio Mediani 
 David Markozov 
 Nicolas Minassian 
BR01 LMP2 175 1'06.488
16 30  Scott Sharp 
 Ed Brown 
 Johannes van Overbeek 
Ligier JS P2 LMP2 172 22 laps
17 12  Nick Heidfeld 
 Nicolas Prost 
 Mathias Beche 
Rebellion R-One LMP1 171 23 laps
18 51  Gianmaria Bruni 
 James Calado 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 170 24 laps
19 71  Sam Bird 
 Davide Rigon 
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE PRO 170 29.730
20 95  Marco Sorensen 
 Nicki Thiim 
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE PRO 170 47.394
21 66  Stefan Mücke 
 Olivier Pla 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 169 25 laps
22 97  Darren Turner 
 Richie Stanaway 
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE PRO 169 44.003
23 77  Richard Lietz 
 Michael Christensen 
Porsche 911 RSR (2016) LMGTE PRO 169 1'11.303
24 98  Pedro Lamy 
 Paul Dalla Lana 
 Mathias Lauda 
Aston Martin Vantage V8 LMGTE AM 166 28 laps
25 83  François Perrodo 
 Emmanuel Collard 
 Rui Aguas 
Ferrari F458 Italia LMGTE AM 166 1'02.201
26 50  Paolo Ruberti 
 Pierre Ragues 
 Yutaka Yamagishi 
Chevrolet Corvette C7-Z06 LMGTE AM 165 29 laps
27 88  David Heinemeier Hansson 
 Patrick Long 
 Khaled Al Qubaisi 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 164 30 laps
28 86  Michael Wainwright 
 Adam Carroll 
 Ben Barker 
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 164 1'16.498
29 67  Harry Tincknell 
 Andy Priaulx 
 Marino Franchitti 
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 155 39 laps
30 45  Roberto Merhi 
 Richard Bradley 
 Matthew Rao 
Oreca 05 LMP2 149 45 laps
31 4  Simon Trummer 
 Oliver Webb 
 Pierre Kaffer 
CLM P1/01 LMP1 98 96 laps
32 26   Roman Rusinov 
 René Rast 
 Alex Brundle 
Oreca 05 LMP2 74 120 laps

Gallery: Nurburgring WEC: Porsche beats Audi as #1 crew takes victory