Porsche officially owns the Nürburgring. Not a full year after raising the bar on the production car record around the famed Nordschleife, Porsche put its 919 Hybrid Evo racer on the track and destroyed the three-decades-old all-time record (also set in a Porsche) by nearly a minute. Not only did the 919 break the six-minute barrier, its lap was closer to five minutes than to six.
On Friday morning, 37-year-old driver Timo Bernhard got behind the wheel of the specially prepared 919 Hybrid Evo and circled the 12.94-mile (20.83-km) Nordschleife in a blistering 5 minutes 19.55 seconds. With an average speed of 145.3 mph (233.8 km/h), Bernhard blew past the previous record by quite near 52 seconds.
That record of 6:11.13 was set in 1983 when Stefan Bellof lapped the circuit in a 620-hp Rothmans Porsche 956 C while practicing for the 1,000-km World Endurance Championship (WEC) race. Bellof died tragically just two years later in a crash at Spa-Francorchamps.
Bernhard, the reigning WEC champion who counts five Nürburgring 24 and two Le Mans 24 victories among his racing accomplishments, has long been an admirer of Bellof's. That certainly didn't change during the record run.
"For me, Stefan Bellof is and remains a giant," Bernhard stressed after his record-setting lap. "Today my respect for his achievement with the technology available back then increased even more."
The 919 Hybrid Evo was clearly an ideal technological tour de force for beating the 35-year-old 'Ring record. An evolution of the 919 Hybrid, which enjoyed Le Mans and FIA WEC hat tricks in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the Evo received a number of changes that improved powertrain output, aerodynamic performance and handling.
Specifically, Porsche began with the 2017 WEC championship car and its 2.0-liter V4 turbo hybrid powertrain. Free from the energy restrictions of WEC, Porsche was able to get a full 720 hp out of the rear-mounted, turbocharged V4, up from around 500 on the race car. The electric motor on the front axle meanwhile leapt from 400 hp to 440 hp, giving the 919 Hybrid Evo a full 1,160 hp of raw power to work with.
As on the standard race car, the Evo relies on both a front-mounted KERS generator and an exhaust gas energy recovery system to keep the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery charged.
Porsche engineers were also freed in reworking the aerodynamics, adding a large rear wing and enlarged front diffuser each operating via actively controlled drag reduction systems. Other changes include optimization of underbody aerodynamics and the addition of fixed-height side skirts. All in all, Porsche says, the Evo enjoys a 53 percent higher downforce and 66 percent efficiency increase as compared to the 2017 919 Hybrid race car.
Other changes include elimination of onboard hardware like air conditioning, various electronics and the windshield wiper for a total loss of 86 lb (39 kg), addition of a four-wheel brake-by-wire system for better dynamic yaw control, beefier front and rear suspension wishbones, adjustment of the power steering system, and tires with special Michelin-developed, downforce-increasing compounds.
"The Evo was perfectly prepared, and I have done my best on this lap," Bernhard said. "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."
The video below shows a Bernhard POV of what it looks like to lap the Nordschleife in just under 5:20. Jump past the video for the full 919 Hybrid Evo spec sheet.
Technical specifications 919 Hybrid Evo
Monocoque: Composite material structure consisting of carbon fibre with an aluminium honeycomb core. The cockpit is closed.
Combustion engine: V4 engine (90 degree cylinder bank angle), turbocharged, 4 valves per cylinder, DOHC, 1 Garrett turbocharger, direct petrol injection, fully load-bearing aluminium cylinder crank-case, dry sump lubrication
Max. engine speed: ≈ 9,000/min
Engine management: Bosch MS5
Displacement: 2,000 cm3 (V4 engine)
Output: Combustion engine: 720 hp, rear axle (< 500 PS)
MGU: 440 hp, front axle (> 400 PS)
Hybrid system: KERS with a motor generator unit (MGU) mounted on the front axle; ERS for recuperation of energy from exhaust gases. Energy storage in a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery with cells from A123 Systems
Drive system: Rear wheel drive, traction control (ASR), temporary all-wheel drive at the front axle via the electric motor when boosted, hydraulically operated sequential 7-speed racing gearbox
Chassis: Independent front and rear wheel suspension, push-rod layout with adjustable dampers and Pitch Link System with actively controlled lockout system (no actively controlled lockout system in the 919 WEC version)
Brake system: 4-wheel brake-by-wire system (front-rear brake-by-wire sys-tem), monoblock light alloy brake calipers, ventilated carbon fibre brake discs front and rear.
Variable control of wheel torques to optimize the car bal-ance (variable control of torque distribution front to rear)
Wheels and tires: Forged magnesium wheel rims from BBS; Michelin Radial tires, front and rear: 310/710-18
Weight: 849 kg (888 kg including driver ballast)
Length: 5,078 mm (4,650 mm)
Width: 1,900 mm
Height: 1,050 mm
Fuel tank capacity: 62.3 liters
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