Could one of the most successful LMP1 racers add more accolades to its ledger?

The Porsche 919 Hybrid is arguably the most dominant LMP1 racer that Porsche has ever had. It won the last three World Endurance Championships, including three straight Le Mans titles. Now that the 919 Hybrid is headed to retirement, Porsche freed it from the technical regulations of the WEC, gave it a new name (919 Evo), bumped up its power, and unleashed it on some of the most famous race tracks in the world. The first stop in this track world tour was Spa Francorchamps, and, believe it or not, the 919 Evo turned in a record-breaking lap time of 1:41.7, breaking the 1:42.553 lap time set last year by Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes Formula One car.

Porsche 919 Hybrid Wallops Its Way To Spa Lap Record, Nurburgring Could Be Next
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The first stop in this track world tour was Spa Francorchamps, and, believe it or not, the 919 Evo turned in a record-breaking lap time of 1:41.7

You’re not imagining it; the Porsche 919 Hybrid really posted a faster lap time than a Formula One car at the Spa Francorchamps race track. Absolutely stunning.

It didn’t come without any help, though, because the 919 Evo is a little removed from the Le Mans-winning LMP1 car in a lot of different ways. First, it doesn’t have to abide by any of the technical regulations set by the WEC, so Porsche gave it significant aerodynamic upgrades that not only made the car 86 pounds lighter than the 919 Hybrid but also increased its downforce by an incredible 53 percent. That’s not all. The suspension was given its own upgrades to handle the extra downforce, and the car’s 2.0-liter turbocharged V4 gas engine has been tuned to produce 720 horsepower — the 919 Hybrid “only” had 500 horsepower — to go with an electric boost that also shot up from 400 ponies to 440 ponies.

Porsche 919 Hybrid Wallops Its Way To Spa Lap Record, Nurburgring Could Be Next
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It’s so fast that even with Porsche factory driver Neel Jani behind the wheel, the 919 Evo still posted a top speed of 216.8 mph and averaged 152.6 mph

The result is a car that’s beyond description. It’s so fast that even with Porsche factory driver Neel Jani behind the wheel, the 919 Evo still posted a top speed of 216.8 mph and averaged 152.6 mph. Averaged! Here’s an added layer of context between the 919 Evo and the 919 Hybrid: the 919 Evo’s lap time of 1:41.7 around Spa was 12 seconds faster than the 919 Hybrid’s pole-setting lap time in the same track a year ago.

As impressive as all of that sounds, Stephen Mitas, the chief race engineer for the 919 Hybrid, hinted that even in its unleashed state, the 919 Evo still doesn’t tap into its full technical potential. “Having developed, improved and raced the car for four years, the guys had a very close relationship with it,” Mitas told Arstechnica. “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 919 Hybrid Wallops Its Way To Spa Lap Record, Nurburgring Could Be Next
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What the Porsche 919 Evo just did at one of the most daunting race tracks in the world is beyond comprehension

There are incredible feats of race car engineering, and there are incredible feats of race car engineering. What the Porsche 919 Evo just did at one of the most daunting race tracks in the world is beyond comprehension. It’s astounding on so many levels that you just scratch your head and wonder what it can do next.

Speaking of which, that “next” is coming next month as Porsche announced plans to take the 919 Evo to the Nurburgring so the unleashed LMP1 racer can do a demo lap on the track. It’s funny that the German automaker didn’t just say it outright because everyone knows that the planned “demo lap” is actually Porsche’s thinly-veiled way of saying that it’s gunning for the Ring’s 6:11.13 lap record that was set 35 years ago in 1983 by a Porsche 956.

If the 919 Evo can somehow do it, there’ll be no doubting the race car’s place as one of the greatest of its kind in all of motor racing.

References

Porsche 919 Hybrid Wallops Its Way To Spa Lap Record, Nurburgring Could Be Next
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Read our full review on the 2018 Porsche 919 Hybrid

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Read more Porsche news.

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