On June 29, the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo driven by Timo Bernhard broke the lap record at the 20.83-kilometre Nürburgring Nordschleife race circuit by a mammoth 51.58 seconds. What is even more impressive is that the lap time of 5 minutes and 19.55 seconds with an average speed of 233.8 kmph broke a record that had stood for 35 years and 31 days. The previous record at what is generally regarded by drivers, engineers and enthusiasts as the most demanding race track in the world was held by another legend of the endurance racing folklore; the 620 bhp Rothmans Porsche 956 C, driven by the late Stefan Bellof.
“This is a great moment for me and for the entire team – the 919 programme’s icing on the cake. The Evo was perfectly prepared, and I have done my best on this lap. 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,” said the elated 37-year old German driver. Timo Bernhard is the five-time overall winner of the Nürburgring 24-hours, two-time outright winner of the Le Mans 24-hours and the reigning World Endurance Champion with the Porsche 919 Hybrid.
“As a race team we constantly search for challenges that push a car, driver and team to operate on the limit. Conquering the “Green Hell” definitely provided such a challenge. Today we have shown the full potential of the 919 Evo. Congratulations to Timo for his sensational drive. Being a record winner at the Nürburgring, Timo was the logical choice for the job.” – Andreas Seidl, LMP Team Principal.
The Nürburgring success is the second track record broken by the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo this year. On April 9, it lapped the Belgian Spa circuit faster than the Formula One car of Levis Hamilton did in 2017. On that occasion, it was the 34-year old Porsche works driver Neel Jani at the wheel. Jani is the Le Mans outright winner and Endurance World Champion of 2016, the 919 Evo set a lap of 1:41,770 minutes on the 7-kilometre Grand Prix circuit.
The record-breaking Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo is based on the car that took outright victory at the Le Mans 24-Hours, and won the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015, 2016 and 2017. To this winning thoroughbred was added the unused advancements developed for the 2018 WEC season. Over the winter, it was put through further toughening-up and weight-shedding programs to prepare it for the record attempts. As a result of all these improvements, its hybrid powertrain now develops a system output of 1,160 hp, it weighs just 849 kilograms, and its modified active aerodynamics generate over 50 percent more downforce compared to the WEC model. Top speed achieved at the Nürburgring was 369.4 kmph.
Porsche’s champion will now venture on a “919 Tribute Tour” to commemorate its achievements. It is scheduled to make an appearance at the VW Fun Cup at Spa-Francorchamps, and at the Goodwood Festival of Speed; both in July. Then in September, it is expected to make an appearance at the Festival of Porsche at Brands Hatch, and at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1 explained the reasoning behind the tour: “From 2015 to 2017 three overall wins in Le Mans and three drivers’ and three manufacturers’ world championship titles. This isn’t easy to be reproduced by anyone. The Tribute Tour is our homage on these years. We didn’t want to see the most innovative race car of its time disappearing unceremoniously into the museum.”