Portrait of Timo Bernhard,the ALMS leader
The 26-year-old man with his characteristic blond hair has been driving for Porsche since 1999 and thus has been with Porsche longer than any other of the current nine factory drivers. Together with Frenchman Romain Dumas he pilots the yellow #7 Porsche RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The pair are considered the masters of the LMP 2 class. Currently they lead the championship points in the series featuring the world’s fastest sportscars. At three of seven races so far this season they made headlines: On the street circuits in Long Beach and Houston and on the Mid Ohio track they beat the more powerful LMP 1 cars and secured overall wins.
But away from roaring engines and cheering fans Timo Bernhard prefers tranquility. With his partner Katharina he has lived in a house since 2003, just ten miles away from the town of Homburg, where he was born. Together with his father Ruediger the lean racing professional installed all the appliances himself. Apart from solar panels on the roof there’s nothing extraordinary about the house in the village. Light beechwood furniture and blue floor tyles make for a very friendly atmosphere. It’s only the many motorsport photos on the walls, a hoard of racing car models and motorsport DVDs that indicate that one to the world’s best sportscar pilots lives here.
And if you are lucky enough to be invited to spend a night in the guest room you’ll very likely dream of flashing cameras, national anthems and champagne showers. Because here Timo Bernhard keeps his 30 most important trophies. Beside the many winners trophies from the ALMS there’s quite a number of shiny memorabilia from the early racing years.
It was back in 1991 when ten-year-old Timo clinched his first championship title in karting. In 1995 he celebrated his breakthrough with 20 horse power as German Junior Kart Champion and fifth in the Junior World Championship.
Timo Bernhard has raced in the USA for seven years . „Still, I am and I will always be a European, I feel best at home“, he says. Only, the brand of his sun glasses, the T-Shirts in his wardrobe and the big barbecue on the terrace behind the house tell of his many journeys across the Big Pond.
At school Timo was one of the smaller boys in his class. „Timo was a quiet pupil, but somehow he was somehow cheeky“, remembers his former English teacher Rita Toerlitz at his old school. His former geography teacher shares the positive memories of the sporty world traveller: „His last geography test was his best: full points and a clear A!“
While his teachers supported Timo’s motorsport ambitions wholeheartedly right from the start, his girl friend Katharina was clearly against them. „When I met Timo end 2002, I was not really into motorsport. But in the meantime he just changed my mind,“ confesses the attractive medical student. Together with Timo’s parents she follows the ALMS races in their living room at home. There’s the notebook with live timing on the table, and there’s lots of hearty food, too. For Katharina, the parents and more often than not a bunch of Timo’s friends.
With Katharina so close to the family the questions concerning marriage naturally become more frequent. „It’s no secret that I would like to have a family one day. But we haven’t yet thought about a date for the marriage“, says Timo Bernhard. „Just one thing is decided on: On this day our car will be an open Porsche, preferably a Carrera GT ...“