PORSCHE SMASHES ’RING RECORD
919 Hybrid Evo slashes nearly a minute from 35-year-old record
We knew it was coming. Now it’s been confirmed. Porsche has obliterated its own 35-year-old lap record at the infamous 13-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany. The existing lap record of six minutes and 11 seconds was set in qualifying for the Nürburgring 1000km race in 1983 by Stefan Bellof in a Rothmans Porsche 956 Group C car. Porsche has slashed that to just five minutes and 19.55 seconds.
The weapon of choice to achieve this deed? The Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, piloted by Timo Bernhard. The 919 Hybrid Evo is essentially a derestricted version of Porsche’s Le Mans-conquering 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer. Unshackled by the requirement to adhere to FIA regulations, the 919 Hybrid Evo has been tearing up track records at multiple locations. That includes edging out one Lewis Hamilton and his F1 pole-winning record set at the iconic SpaFrancorchamps track in Belgium.
More specifically, the 919’s hybrid powertrain now develops a system output of 1160 hp. What’s more, this special Evo version weighs in at just 849kg and its modified aerodynamics with added active capabilities generate over 50 per cent more downforce than the Fia-compliant race car. The top speed achieved during the ’Ring run was 229.5mph. The record-breaking feat is part of the 919’s year-long victory tour following its retirement from competition at the end of the 2017 season and coincides with Porsche’s broader 70year anniversary celebrations.
Driver Timo Bernhard, a five-time overall winner of the Nürburgring 24-hours, two-time outright winner of the Le Mans 24- hours and reigning World Endurance Champion in the Porsche 919 Hybrid, paid tribute to Bellof, who died in an accident at SpaFrancorchamps in 1985. “For me, Stefan Bellof is and remains a giant”, said Bernhard, “today my respect for his achievement with the technology available back then increased even more.”
Bernhard also marvelled at the modified 919’s sheer capability. “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 37-year-old from Bruchmühlbach-miesau in the German region of Saarpfalz.
Meanwhile, Porsche’s LMP Team Principal Andreas Seidl said, “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. Since last winter we were preparing for that task together with our tyre partner Michelin – painstakingly and with a great deal of respect for this track. Today we have shown the full potential of the 919 Evo.”
Of course, pedants will point out that the current ’Ring isn’t entirely identical to the one upon which Bellof and the 956 achieved immortality. Likewise, it’s no surprise to discover that 35 years of racing and technological progress has enabled a huge step forward. However, such rationalisations melt away when you observe the stunning pace at which Bernhard and the 919 hoovered up the tortuous Nürburgring Tarmac. It’s like something out of a video game. See for yourself on Porsche’s official Youtube channel at youtube.com/user/porsche.
Nothing lasts forever, not even the Nürburgring’s seemingly unbeatable lap record, set by Stefan Bellof 35-years ago in a Porsche 956. Fittingly Porsche smashed it with a derestricted version of the 919 Hybrid racer, driven by Timo Bernhard, taking nearly a minute off Bellof’s time