Porsche’s 919 Hybrid Evo achieved its first record, with Neel Jani breaking the outright lap record at Spa-Francorchamps that was held by a Formula 1 car.
On Monday, the Swiss driver lapped the 4.35-mile Grand Prix circuit in 1:41.770, eclipsing Lewis Hamilton’s pole-winning time of 1:42.553 time set in a Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid last year.
The record-breaking run came at the wheel of a modified Porsche LMP1 car, as part of its “919 Tribute Tour” that will include include outings at the Nürburgring, Goodwood, Brands Hatch as well as Porsche’s Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca later this year.
“The 919 Evo is brutally impressive,” Jani said. “It is definitely the fastest car I ever drove.
“The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me, I couldn’t imagine this amount beforehand. The speed on which everything happens on a single lap with the 919 Evo is that fast that the demand on reaction speed is very different to what I was used to in the WEC.”
Jani’s lap was not only quicker than the F1 pole, but some 12 seconds faster than Stephane Sarrazin’s fastest time from WEC qualifying at the Belgian circuit last year.
“This additional success is the result of the LMP team’s hard work and a proud day for the engineers,” said team principal Andreas Seidl. “One can only congratulate Neel and the entire crew for achieving it.
“All six 2017 LMP1 drivers contributed to the project. It was our target to show the Porsche 919 Hybrid’s abilities when we ease the restrictions that came from the World Endurance Championship regulations.”
The car features significant aero modifications from the base 919 Hybrid that Porsche had developed in anticipation for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, prior to the German manufacturer’s decision to withdraw from the series.
It includes a larger front diffuser and rear wing, along with the addition of DRS, modified turning vanes and floor, which has combined to provide a 53 percent increase in downforce.
While maintaining the same powertrain configuration, the V4 turbo engine now produces 720 horsepower, without the use of the WEC-mandated fuel flow meter, and a 10 percent increase in electric power, courtesy of an unrestricted energy recovery system.
Jani’s lap saw the Porsche run to a full boost of 8.49 MJ, achieving a top speed of 223 mph and average speed of 152 mph.
The car’s overall weight has also been reduced by 39 kg to 849 kg, with a four-wheel brake-by-wire system also installed, along with specially developed Michelin tires.
Mitas: An “Engineer’s Dream Come True”
Porsche’s LMP1 chief race engineer, Stephen Mitas, said the 919 Hybrid Evo’s development has been a “dream come true.”
“Having developed, improved and raced the car for four years, the guys had a very close relationship to it,” he said. “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 1 record.”
‘919 Tribute Tour’ Schedule
At least four more outings with the car are planned this year, with a demo lap on the Nürburgring Nordschleife scheduled next, prior to the start of the 24-hour race on May 12.
The car will also make appearances at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, the Festival of Porsche at Brands Hatch in September, as well as the Rennsport Reunion at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 26-29.