With one minute to go, there was silence around the timing screen. Cameras were primed but voices were hushed. Andreas Seidl, head of Porsche’s racing department, just stood watching with a nervous smile.
And then we heard it, long before it came into sight. This was no multi-cylindered symphony of some automotive work of art, but the flat blast of a rather small four-cylinder engine working in unholy alliance with all manner of hybrid electric trickery. But, my goodness, it was fit for purpose.
Through the last right Timo Bernhard came, the car almost across the kerbs as he tried to wring every last tenth of a second from the Porsche 919 Evo. The engine blared one last time, speared forward across the line and then, for the briefest moment, time seemed to stop.
A load of digits had appeared on the screen but at first they appeared not to make sense. These were not numbers that had ever appeared here before. Not even close, in fact. But then it started to dawn. This was enormous. This was history. This was a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 5min 19.546sec. Allow me to put it another way.