With less than three weeks left until the green flag drops for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche has unveiled the liveries of the three 919 Hybrids set to compete in the LMP1 class. Unlike last year’s race, where Porsche fielded cars painted in the same colors, this year’s event will bring three 919s with distinct liveries on the starting grid.

While the No. 19 car driven by Earl Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg, and Nick Tandy will use the same colors Porsche chose for its big return in 2014, the others will sport red and black liveries.

The red No. 17 car focuses on Stuttgart’s tradition at Le Mans and pays tribute to the 917 KH model that brought Porsche its first win on Circuit de la Sarthe in 1970. The "Salzburg Design," short-tail 917 was also finished in red with white stripes. The No. 17 919 will be shared by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Mark Webber on the track.

The third car comes wrapped in black and white stripes in a nod to the road-going 918 Spyder and the technology the 2015 919 Hybrid shares with it. The race car is also an homage to the black 918 that set a new record for production cars at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in September 2013. This 919, wearing No. 18, will be driven by Marc Lieb, the man who drove the 918 to its record lap, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

As the manufacturer that holds the record for the most 24 Hours of Le Mans wins — 16 between 1970 and 1998 — Porsche has plenty of reasons to use just about any event at Circuit de la Sarthe to celebrate its rich motorsport heritage. I find the red No. 17 car to be the most appealing of them all, but that’s mostly because I’m a big fan of 1960s and 1970s racing, Le Mans-related or not. And while the No. 17 car is a blast from the past, the black No. 18 racer brings forth one of Porsche’s most recent achievements. Seems about right for a company that’s looking to win the 24 Hours of a Le Mans for the 17th time.

Porsche 919 Hybrid

2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Find out more about the Porsche 919 Hybrid in our review here.

Press Release

The official Pre-test will see the world debut of the 2015 Porsche Le Mans race cars in their individual colours: The three Porsche 919 Hybrids will appear for the first time in their base colours of red, black and white.

Porsche Reveals 2015 Le Mans Livery High Resolution Exterior
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Tradition – The red prototype with starting number 17 will be driven by Timo Bernhard (34, Germany), Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand), and Mark Webber (38, Australia). Its car number and colour are a tribute to the Porsche that in 1970 took the first of what are now a total of 16 overall victories for the brand in Le Mans. No other brand has claimed so many victories in what is believed to be the world’s most demanding endurance race. The base colour of the Porsche 917 KH ("short-tail") in "Salzburg Design" that won the race 45 years ago on June 14, 1970 was also red. The winning drivers then were Hans Herrmann from Germany, who is now 87, and Richard Attwood from the UK, who is 75 today.

Technology – The black LMP1 with starting number 18 is a symbol of the close technical relationship between the Porsche 919 Hybrid racing car and the Porsche 918 Spyder super sports car, which is also equipped with a hybrid drive. It was also a black 918 that on September 4, 2013 set a new record for a street-legal production sports car by completing a lap of more than 20 kilometres on the North Loop of the Nürburgring in six minutes and 57 seconds. The record-breaking driver there was Marc Lieb, 34, from Germany. Lieb will also drive the black 919 in Le Mans this year – together with Romain Dumas (37, France) and Neel Jani (31, Switzerland).

A Return – The team’s third car – the white 919 Hybrid with starting number 19 – will be competing in Le Mans in the colour Porsche chose for its return to top-notch racing after a 16-year absence. White, which is a traditional colour for racing cars from Germany, will also be used with the two Porsche 911 RSR factory cars that will race in the GTE Pro Class. In Le Mans the third 919 will be driven by Earl Bamber (24, New Zealand), Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg (27, Germany), and Nick Tandy (30, Great Britain).

Porsche Reveals 2015 Le Mans Livery High Resolution Exterior
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Despite their individual colours, the liveries of the three Porsche 919 Hybrids and the two Porsche 911 RSRs share the same philosophy. All the chassis are covered in the words “Porsche Intelligent Performance”. Those three words summarise the brand’s core ambition for maximised sportiness and highest efficiency.

Style icons and a provocative livery in Le Mans

The livery of a race car is a science in itself. It should highlight design and proportions, cover design secrets and it must look good when the car runs at high speeds. In the old days cars were painted, nowadays they are covered in ultra-thin material. Often the colours and looks are influenced by sponsors and partners like the never forgotten Porsche Le Mans race cars in the colours of Gulf, Martini, Mobil1, Rothmans or Shell. Also still famous are the extravagant creations by Anatole Lapine. The Latvian Porsche chief designer was responsible for the 1970 psychedelic purple-green Porsche 917 long tail, which was quickly given the nickname “Hippie”. One year later Lapine let a ‘pig’ run. The pink 917 is known as the “Sau” which translates into sow, which, of course, is a female pig. It is said it is the most photographed Le Mans race car ever. Lapine even put a schematic drawing on it with red lines separating and naming the various parts of the body – just like those displays you’ll find in a butcher’s shop. Internally this was provocative, externally it was a sensation. Without this livery the 917 would have been long forgotten after its retirement in the race. Instead it is still the favourite car of the children visiting the Porsche Museum in Zuffenhausen.

Twenty years earlier the first race car entered by Porsche in Le Mans had no such issues. The class winning 356 SL 1100 from 1951 had a bare aluminium body. It was a pioneer in terms of light-weight construction and aerodynamic efficiency.

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