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Bamber Nearly Breaks Laguna Track Record in 919 Hybrid Evo

Earl Bamber nearly eclipses Laguna Seca track record despite not attempting record run…

Photo: Michelin

Earl Bamber’s first-ever laps in the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo nearly broke the track record at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, despite the Kiwi not even attempting to set a competitive time.

The two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner revealed that he unofficially clocked a 1:07 lap during Friday morning’s closed session for the 1,000-plus horsepower LMP1-based car, as part of festivities at Porsche’s Rennsport Reunion VI.

His time was less than two seconds from Marc Gene’s 1:05.786 lap set in a Ferrari F2003-GA Formula 1 car that was set in 2012.

The official track record, from a timed session at the California circuit, is held by Helio Castroneves, who set a 1:07.722 lap in qualifying for the 2000 CART race. 

“It was amazing,” Bamber told Sportscar365 after the run. “The only other time I drove it was in a rollout once when they first ever had it.

“Now it’s absolutely nuts. It’s quite crazy to drive [for] the first time here compared to the [911] RSR we drove here a few weeks ago. My mind was just going crazy.

“This track is quite hard. You don’t have any time to gather your thoughts. It’s that fast.”

Bamber said his first lap around the 2.238-mile circuit was in the 1:11 range, some five seconds faster than Jordan Taylor’s pole-winning time for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race earlier this month.

What’s more, Bamber, who was clocked at 186 mph on the front/straight speed trap, said he wasn’t even pushing the limits of the 919 Hybrid Evo during his initial five-lap stint.

The German manufacturer has stated it will not attempt a record-breaking run this weekend after claiming new track records earlier this year at Spa and the Nürburgring Nordschleife, both of which were conducted as private tests.

“It’s more of not really pushing the car to the limit, it’s just getting the speed,” Bamber said.

“The car has so much [of a] safety margin to do that sort of time, but your mind and brain, especially around Laguna, because you can imagine how quick it is going down the hill and stuff and one corner leads into the next…

“It was a bunch of fun and so cool.”

The Kiwi said he felt honored to be one of the final drivers to drive the car, with the 919 Hybrid Evo set to be retired to the Porsche Museum following this weekend’s event.

Additional “exhibition laps” are planned for the car on Saturday and Sunday. 

“They told us to go out and have a bunch of fun in it,” Bamber said.

“When you dream as a kid, you always want to drive a Formula 1 car. I think when you drive that thing you don’t need to drive a Formula 1 car because it’s just so insane and has so much grip. It was so stuck to the road; it was like playing Scalextrics.

“You get a smile on your face. That’s what the event is about. I can’t wait to go back out again.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Andy Flinn

    September 28, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    This article really begs one question:

    Why isn’t this car still racing in WEC LMP1?

    Also, given their fondness for FIA Grade 1 F1 “Tilkedromes” would the current WEC ever actually race at Laguna Seca?

    • Slicks in the wet

      September 28, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      WEC will never come to Laguna Seca. Driver and fan amenities are still lacking (to their ‘standard’). Not enough safe run-off either. It would be glorious though.

    • FormulaFox

      October 1, 2018 at 12:33 am

      “Why isn’t this car still racing in WEC LMP1?”

      Because it’s not legal within the WEC LMP1 rules. Even you should be able to understand that.

  2. Matt

    September 28, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    How is a 1:07 near the 1:05.7 track record??

    • TF110

      September 28, 2018 at 5:11 pm

      It’s near the official race track record. Plus it was a demo run done by a driver who usually runs the GTE car, not even the lmp1 guys. There’s no doubt it would dip into the 1:06’s or even lower if done in anger.

      • noclue

        September 28, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        Bamber did win the 24h of Le man in this car.

        Not this spec.

    • Greeny

      September 28, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      It’s 1.3 off a 1m05 and if they were taking it easy then it’s close. 1m05 was a qualifying lap and this 919 beast did a 1m07 tootling. Pretty easy math hey Bob.

      • Br8KL8

        September 29, 2018 at 1:20 am

        I was there in 2012… it was a quick run on low fuel, but no significant set up changes were made. Oh, it was in a 2003 F1 car, not a 2018 Prototype. There’s absolutely zero chance if they both went after the record, that the 919 would have a chance. Not at this track. It’s fast. It’s not fast enough here, I’m afraid.

        • Tyler Sanders

          September 29, 2018 at 4:54 am

          “2003 F1 car, not a 2018 Prototype. There’s absolutely zero chance if they both went after the record, that the 919 would have a chance” How do you know that the 919 Evo is just about as fast as a current formula 1 car.

          • Steven

            September 29, 2018 at 9:19 am

            It’s not. Just look at Spa, The unrestricted Porsche put up the fastest lap, only to be beaten by the current 2018 F1 car that was within the regulations.

            A current F1 car (actually only the Mercedes, Ferrari, or RBR) would beat any current lap record at any track.

      • Matt

        September 29, 2018 at 3:58 pm

        1 second+ is a huge amount of time in racing… You must be new here.

    • Andy

      September 28, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Because reading is hard and any time set with the Ferrari Corsa Clienti days usually is, as in this case, not considered for official track records as timing and scoring is done by the team not the track. In this case the 919 was close to the Indy car, and track record, of 1:07.722. But I guess if you can’t read the article skip to the end and comment

      • Slicks in the wet

        September 28, 2018 at 9:31 pm

        What a tool, right?

        Derp how is a barely 3% slower lap on a car not trying not even close derp

        This dude would probably get it if you said $65 is close to $67, right?

        • Matt

          September 29, 2018 at 3:57 pm

          You forgot your pills again?

  3. Mike S.

    September 28, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Impressive car and era but typical hype and nothing happened. That track doesn’t have grip as it is so it would take several laps to get up to temps I am sure but by then it might overheat cause I am sure a lot of the cooling systems have been altered for shorter runs due to aero evo. What’s more impressive is that time of Helio in a qualifying run. Man just proves how cool those CART era beasts were.

  4. Ben

    September 28, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    For completeness, Laguna has a bit more space in the exit of T6 and the entrance to the corkscrew, than it did when Gene ran that lap in Bud’s F1 car. Still absolutely nuts that they have this “LMP” car going so close to top F1 times.

  5. Ggggggggtrrddfj'

    September 28, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Should they attempt a record at Le Mans

    • Slicks in the wet

      September 28, 2018 at 11:51 pm

      Cynical me says no. They shouldnt be doing these ‘records’ anywhere. They are running the car outside of racing configuration. None of the times should stand. It reeks of cheating.

      Then again…it would make perfect sense that VAG would be cheating more.

      • Tyler Sanders

        September 29, 2018 at 4:56 am

        “They are running the car outside of racing configuration. None of the times should stand. It reeks of cheating.” Cheating how it’s just a tarted up 919 hybrid.

        • Slicks in the wet

          September 29, 2018 at 1:27 pm

          Was the CART car started up? No? Oh, it ran to actual rules? Instead of having a bunch of one off aero and weight reduction?

          That’s how.

        • Frank

          September 30, 2018 at 3:08 pm

          It’s typical Porsche bs. Oh look at us we are so fast…but we have pimped the car so much it’s completely irrelevant. Nonsense. But perfect material for all the journalists who were probably unable to keep everything in their trousers.

  6. paul

    September 29, 2018 at 6:21 am

    How can you cheat with no competitors?

    • Slicks in the wet

      September 29, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Um. The competitors are the cars that set the records…in official sessions/races.

      Not souped up special edition car that is setting times outside of competition using tech that isn’t to any sanctioning body.

      Is it that hard to understand how THESE time trials aren’t the same….

      I admit it’s fun. But it’s bullshit, too.

      • Matt

        September 29, 2018 at 4:00 pm

        Are you this much of a bitch to people in person?

        • Slicks in the wet

          September 29, 2018 at 9:36 pm

          Yes.

          I usually take a huge amount of time, like a second or so, before turning on my bitchiness.

  7. Frank

    September 30, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Another pointless article about nearly something or other. Utter toilet.

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