It's the fastest circuit racer in the world right now, and it was on display in the main paddock at Goodwood. The Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo is Stuttgart’s celebratory send-off for its Le Mans-winning 919 race car.
Up close with the Nurburgring slaying Porsche 919 Evo
Originally designed to win the top LMP1-H class at Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 919 didn’t meet with success initially. The 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour was a race that no-one seemed to want to win, with every leading car suffering mechanical failures. Porsche’s two 919s endured fuelling, gearbox and suspension issues, and only one of the two cars finished.
However, the team signed off the 2014 season with a portentous win at Interlagos. The car returned in 2015. Although initially behind the Audis, Porsche took its maiden victory at Le Mans, with a 1-2, a pole position and a lap record in the process. The 919 won every remaining round of the 2015 WEC season, to take the championship too.
There was more fortune to the 2016 race, as Porsche won took the lead with just three minutes to go, thanks to a heartbreaking failure of the leading Toyota as it entered the final lap. 2017 was another nailbiter, as one 919 retired with four hours remaining, promoting an LMP2 car to the lead, but the second 919 took over with two hours on the clock.
After capturing the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship title, Porsche withdrew from prototype racing altogether. However, to celebrate the 919’s achievements and the brand’s 70th anniversary, the Porsche Racing team revealed the Evo model for a victory tour of the world’s circuits.
The Evo is essentially the 919 unleashed. While it retains the original car’s basic form, the Evo is significantly reworked, both in terms of the powertrain and the aerodynamics. It’s an LMP1-H car without having to abide by that category’s power and bodywork regulations.
A reworked front end, absent its headlights, and a larger rear wing, moved further back, the 919 Evo’s downforce is increased by more than 50%, while also increasing its aerodynamic efficiency.
The two-litre, V4 petrol engine remains, but without fuel flow restrictions it can produce more than 700bhp – up around 200hp from the WEC specification. The hybrid system increases energy from just over 6MJ to more than 8MJ, with 440hp of extra power available from the motors. Porsche also put the 919 Evo on a diet, shucking around 40kg from the car’s race weight.
Porsche found the time to put the names of everyone responsible for the LMP1-H program on the car's livery – a true tribute.
All-in, this goes to create the world’s most ferocious time-attack car, as Porsche proved at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. The 919 Evo, in the hands of Neel Jani, went more than three-quarters of a second faster than the fastest lap ever seen at the track - a qualifying lap by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes-AMG W08 Formula One car.
It backed this up by taking on one of its own records, and one of the longest-standing in motorsport. In late June, Porsche took the 919 Evo to the Nurburgring Nordschleife and recorded a 5:19.546 lap of the Green Hell. This took nearly a minute off the 35-year old record of Stefan Bellof in the Porsche 956.
Photography by Tom Shaxson, James Lynch and Jochen Van Cauwenberge
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