MOD­ERN CLAS­SIC

We take a look at some mod­ern ma­chines that will,we hope, one day be re­mem­bered as clas­sics, world-beat­ers, or just to­tally bonkers. By Rob Lad­brook

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5

Tech­nol­ogy in mo­tor­sport is evolv­ing all the time, and can ei­ther be a huge draw or a siz­able turn-off depend­ing on your stance on what the ideal rac­ing car should be. Re­gard­less, it’s hard to find a mod­ern car that hits as many sweet spots as Porsche’s 919 Hy­brid LMP1. This car rep­re­sents the cut­ting edge in rac­ing car tech­nol­ogy in the mod­ern era, and it’s tough to see that chang­ing in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. Yet there’s also some­thing glo­ri­ously retro about it at the same time.

The his­tory books will record the 2015 ver­sion (the third it­er­a­tion) of the 919 Hy­brid as a true game-changer. The car was the first ma­chine to en­ter the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship’s top eight-mega­joule hy­brid class, mean­ing its hy­brid power vir­tu­ally matched that of its fos­sil fuel grunt pound for pound.

At the heart of the car is a revo­lu­tion­ary two-litre V4 tur­bocharged en­gine, cou­pled to twin hy­brid sys­tems – the first be­ing an F1-style heat re­cov­ery hy­brid sys­tem mounted on the tur­bine, and the sec­ond the more tra­di­tional KERS brak­ing sys­tem.

The en­tire com­bi­na­tion of in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine and dual hy­brid was ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing over 1200bhp, with Porsche’s tiny en­gine at one point tuned to kick out up to 600bhp be­fore fuel flow was cut for 2016 to con­trol the speed of the cars.

Hav­ing a high-revving tur­bocharged petrol en­gine also brought noise. The 919 was never a dis­ap­point­ment to fans at Le Mans, its dis­tinc­tive high-pitched en­gine note and scream­ing hy­brid gave it a great sound­track – some­thing that was never re­ally en­joyed by Audi Sport with its su­per-quiet TDI LMP range. And any­body who watched it in full-flight couldn’t help but be in awe of the sheer speed of it.

It also looked great, be­ing by far the pret­ti­est of the 2015 crop of LMP1 cars, and for Bri­tish fans it will be re­mem­bered as the car that took Nick Tandy to a stun­ning de­but Le Mans 24 Hours win along­side Nico Hulken­berg and Earl Bam­ber.

It was also the car that re­turned Porsche to the top step at La Sarthe af­ter a 17-year ab­sence, and has since ex­tended the Stuttgart brand’s all-time win­ning record at the French en­durance clas­sic to 18.

Glance at its World En­durance Cham­pi­onship re­sults and you’ll see it won every race bar two, and de­liv­ered a world ti­tle to Mark Web­ber, Bren­don Hart­ley and Timo Bern­hard.

The blend of fear­some power, ag­gres­sive looks (sadly tainted with a rather dull liv­ery, let’s see it in Mar­tini stripes please Porsche…) and stun­ning engi­neer­ing lev­els made the 919 a real win­ner.

Tandy said of the car: “I’ve never felt power like it in a car, the only way of de­scrib­ing the feel of it when the boost comes in is it’s like be­ing shot out of a can­non. It’s to­tally sav­age on ac­cel­er­a­tion, but there are so many elec­tri­cal sys­tems look­ing af­ter you that it’s some­how also man­age­able to drive over long stints.”

Not only did the 919 Hy­brid rep­re­sent the ul­ti­mate in cut­ting-edge rac­ing tech­nol­ogy, it also used the po­ten­tial of it to full ef­fect. It will go down as one of Porsche’s finest sportscars, and we’ll be buy­ing scale mod­els of it and read­ing tech­nol­ogy books about it for years to come. For a brand that boasts ma­chines like the 917, 956 and 911 GT1, that’s quite an ac­co­lade.

The Porsche 919 stood out from the WEC crowd Car was a ti­tle win­ner

Hy­brid mo­tor

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