Recently, Timo Bernhard (D) lapped the 20.832 kilometre (12.94 miles) Nürburgring Nordschleife race circuit in five minutes and 19.55 seconds – a new record.
This results in an average speed of 233.8 km/h (145.3 mph) on what is revered by race drivers, engineers and enthusiasts alike as the world’s most difficult track. Driving the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, Bernhard beat the previous lap record by an amazing 51.58 seconds set by Stefan Bellof.
For 35 years and 31 days the 6:11.13 minutes record remained uncontested. Bellof drove his record on 28 May in 1983 at the wheel of a powerful 620 bhp Porsche 956 C during practice for the 1000-kilometre WEC sports car race. Also his average speed was over 200 km/h.
Proud and relieved 37-year-old Timo Bernhard from Germany, five-time overall winner of the Nürburgring 24-hours, two-time outright winner of the Le Mans 24-hours and reigning World Endurance Champion with the Porsche 919 Hybrid, clambered out of the tight Le Mans prototype cockpit.
This is a great moment for me and for the entire team – the 919 programme’s icing on the cake. The Evo was perfectly prepared and I have done my best on this lap. Thanks to the aerodynamic downforce, at sections I never imagined you can stay on full throttle. I’m pretty familiar with the Nordschleife. But today I got to learn it in a new way.’
Friday’s success is the second track record on the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo tally: On 9 April this year in Spa, the dramatic evolution of the three-times Le Mans winner lapped faster than a Formula One car with Neel Jani at the wheel. The 34-year old Porsche works driver from Switzerland – Le Mans outright winner and Endurance World Champion of 2016 – set a lap of 1:41,770 minutes on the 7.004 kilometre (4.35 mile) Grand Prix circuit in the Belgian Ardennes mountains. He topped the previous track record, set by Lewis Hamilton in 2017 qualifying, by 0.783 seconds. The British Mercedes driver took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix in 1:42.553 minutes.
The Evo version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid is based on the car that took outright victory at the Le Mans 24-Hours and won the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Its hybrid power train now develops a system output of 1160 hp. The Evo weighs 849 kilogrammes and its modified (and now active) aerodynamics generate over 50% more downforce compared to the WEC model. Top speed at the Nürburgring was 369.4 km/h (229.5 mph).
LMP Team Principal Andreas Seidl commented:
As a race team we constantly search for challenges that push a car, driver and team to operate on the limit. Conquering the ‘Green Hell’ definitely provided such a challenge. Since last winter we were preparing for that task together with our tyre partner Michelin – painstakingly and with a great deal of respect for this track. Today we have shown the full potential of the 919 Evo. Congratulations to Timo for his sensational drive.’
For the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo the entire hardware of the power train remained untouched. The 919 is powered by a compact two-litre turbo charged V4-cylinder engine and two energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front axle combined with exhaust energy. The combustion engine drives the rear axle while the electro motor boosts the front axle to accelerate the car with four-wheel drive. At the same time it recuperates energy from the exhaust system that otherwise would pass unused in to the atmosphere. The electrical energy that comes from the front brakes and the exhaust system is temporarily stored in a liquid-cooled lithium ion battery.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, added a big thank you to their development team in Weissach and the crew on site for the focused and safe operation of this record attempt.
It is terrific what our team has achieved in four years in the World Endurance Championship: From 2015 to 2017 three overall wins in Le Mans and three drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championship titles. This isn’t easy to be reproduced by anyone. The Tribute Tour is our homage on these years. We didn’t want to see the most innovative race car of its time disappearing unceremoniously in to the museum. Thanks to the support from our partners, we were able to develop the Evo version of the Porsche 919 Hybrid for record attempts.’
Definition of ‘fabulous’: taking almost one minute out of a six-minute and 35-year-old record – that’s amazingly fabulous!
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