We’ve written about Porsche’s 911 GT3 R Hybrid project twice this year because it’s just about the most exciting development in motorsport this year, using Williams Hybrid Power's KERS technology (think of it as a mechanical supercapacitor), to capture energy from regenerative braking and then give it back as horsepower under acceleration. After showing lots of promise in its early races, the hybrid has come home with a rush in the closing stages of the season, winning its class and finishing sixth outright in the final round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Last night its true standing as a significant automotive innovation shone through once more when it won Powertrain Innovation of the Year, Vehicle Development of the Year and Design Engineer of the Year at the Professional MotorSport World Expoin Koln, Germany.

In the awards, which are given annually as part of the industry showcase, Professional MotorSport World Expo, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid was named “Vehicle Development of the Year”, while team leader, Dr Daniel Armbruster, was named “DesignEngineer of the Year”, for his work on the project.

The judges said Porsche: “changed public perceptions about hybrids by introducing fresh technology to a new area of motorsport and showing how it could be incorporated into a race vehicle that has much in common with a road car. Rather than learning to live with the compromises [of] a hybrid system, Armbruster and his team found ways to derive unexpected benefits from the installation.”

Armbruster commented: “Porsche is proud to receive these awards. We worked hard to make this unique and innovative concept work. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid is our race laboratory – we learned much about this new technology at the Nürburgring 24 Hours; then made some big steps forward on the way to the 1,000km race in Zhuhai.”

There was also praise for Porsche’s use of the Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) KERS technology, which the judges described as “a correct and innovative move to finally demonstrate this expensive development from Formula 1 in the wider sport.” The WHP electromechanical composite flywheel was considered runaway winner as “Powertrain Innovation of the Year”.

Ian Foley, managing director of WHP commented: “2010 has been a breakthrough year for Williams Hybrid Power, with the success of the program with Porsche Motorsport demonstrating that our flywheel technology is robust in the harshest of racing environments.”

Just nine days prior to taking out the Professional Motorsport awards, the 1,000 kilometre race in Zhuhai/China, the performance and efficiency of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid was evident. Piloted by Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), it was by far the fastest GT vehicle in the field in its Asian premiere.

“The first race in China with the 911 GT3 R Hybrid was a complete success,” said Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport. “The car contested the entire race without the slightest technical problem. The excellent pit stops by our factory squad from Weissach and an absolutely perfect performance from the drivers also contributed to this success. The development work on the hybrid system that we conducted since the last race in Road Atlanta has paid off. Today, we showed impressively just what potential the hybrid technology has. This result is a great motivation for continuing our work on the project. This was definitely not the last race for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.”

On the 4.319 kilometre Zhuhai International Circuit, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, which started in the special GTH class, was not only the fastest but also the most economical GT vehicle. Thanks to its ground-breaking drive concept, it made one less pit stop and completed three more laps than the next GT opponent. “Our car ran perfectly from the first to the last lap,” said Joerg Bergmeister.

“That was another super test of the hybrid system under race conditions – and the most successful conclusion I could think of.” Patrick Long, his teammate with whom he won the GT title of the American Le Mans Series for the second time straight this season, said: “The performance of the Porsche factory mechanics was world class. We had the most efficient and at the same time fastest GT car.”

The Porsche runs Williams Hybrid Power's electrically powered integral motor flywheel. The flywheels are constructed of Magnetically Loaded Composite (MLC). MLC was invented by engineers at British Nuclear Fuels and Urenco working on the design of uranium enrichment centrifuges. Instead of using discrete permanent magnets to form the rotor of a flywheel’s integrated motor/generator, magnetic powder is mixed into the composite matrix. After the flywheel has been manufactured using filament winding, flash magnetisation of the integrated magnetic particles generates the required field configuration forming the rotor.

With no large metallic structures in the MLC flywheel rotor, eddy current losses and heating are negligible resulting in very high electrical efficiencies. The lack of rotor heating gives MLC flywheels a unique advantage over other composite flywheel designs: they can be continuously deep-cycled at high power with no detriment to performance or reduction in life. The wholly composite MLC flywheel design also improves system safety: in the event of a failure, there are no metallic fragments requiring containment. In common with other flywheels, they can operate efficiently at extreme ambient temperatures – unlike chemical batteries and capacitors.

Other Professional Motorsport Awards

Other category winners included Spain’s MotorLand Aragón (Motorsport Facility of the Year), Geobrugg’s innovative debris fence (Safety Initiative of the Year) and Ball Racing Developments’ PureTech Racing simulator (Motorsport Technology of the Year).

After a close fight for this year’s “Team Principal of the Year” award, the winner was named as Eric Boullier of Renault F1, who judges praised for his “focused and enthusiastic management and racing spirit.”

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