What do you get when you combine a unused race car with bored engineers? The answer is one of the fastest racing cars on the planet.
Porsche has revealed its 919 Hybrid Evo, an upgraded version of its Le Mans winning hybrid sports prototype, which just lapped the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit faster than a Formula One car.
Having quit the World Endurance Championship (WEC) the Porsche racing team was in need of a project to keep its engineers and drivers challenged. So the German firm let its engineers run wild on the 919, freed from the regulations of the WEC.
The 2.0-litre V4 engine remains unchanged, however, power has been increased because it is no longer restricted by the WEC fuel flow limitations; which were designed to keep competition tight. As a result the combustion engine increases from 372kW of power to 535kW output.
At the same time the car’s two energy recovery systems have also been allowed to operate at full potential. In a racing situation the car was limited to just 6.37 megajoule of energy per lap around Spa, but for its record run this week it used 8.49 megajoules of energy boost. That allowed the power outputs increase from 298kW to 330kW for the hybrid system.
The Porsche race team also changed the car’s aerodynamics adding a larger front diffuser and rear wing. Not only were they bigger but both were active aerodynamic systems, reducing drag on the straights for even greater performance.
Weight was also reduced by 39kg with everything no longer needed, including the windscreen wiper, air-conditioning and on-board jacking system all ditched in the name of speed.
“It was kind of an engineer’s dream come true for us”, said Australian Stephen Mitas, chief race engineer for the LMP1 team. “Having developed, improved and raced the car for four years, the guys had a very close relationship to it. We all knew, no matter how successful the 919 Hybrid was, it could never show its full abilities. Actually even the Evo version doesn’t fully exploit the technical potential. This time we were not limited by regulations but resources. It is a very satisfying feeling that what we’ve done to the car was enough to crack the Formula One record.”
Porsche factory driver Neel Jani was given the role of steering the new beast and managed to lap the 7km circuit in 1:41.770m, which beat Lewis Hamilton’s 1:42.553m pole position time for the 2017 Belgium Grand Prix.
“The 919 Evo is brutally impressive,” Jani said. “It is definitely the fastest car I ever drove. The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me, I couldn’t imagine this amount beforehand. The speed on which everything happens on a single lap with the 919 Evo is that fast that the demand on reaction speed is very different to what I was used to in the WEC.
“We are not only faster than the F1 pole from 2017. Today’s lap was 12 seconds faster compared to our WEC pole position from last year!”
Porsche will show off the 919 Hybrid Evo with a ‘919 Tribute Tour’ which will include stops at the Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in May before the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July and other stops in the USA. There are no current plans to bring the car to Australia.
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