With LMP1 cars being replaced by a new Hypercars category in this year's World Endurance Championship, we thought we'd take one final look back at Porsche's incredible record-breaker: the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo. A Le Mans Prototype unshackled, this sensational piece of engineering was designed to show exactly what was possible from the outgoing classification.
Now, strictly speaking, the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo wasn't your typical LMP1 racing car – instead it was a version of Porsche’s retired racer that had been relieved of any form of motorsport regulation. The result, in the minds of many, was an example of everything LMP1 racing cars could have been if money was no issue … it was kind of the ultimate example of the ultimate racing car (outside of Formula One).
Such was the performance of this ‘ultimate version’ that it actually shattered track records at both Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring; the lap time at the latter was so fast, in fact, that the 919 Hybrid Evo beat the all-time ‘unbeatable’ track record set by Stefan Bellof in 1983.
Wondering what made this incredible Porsche so fast? Well, whilst power came from the same powertrain and hardware as the WEC-competing Porsche 919 Hybrid – a two-litre turbocharged V4 combustion engine and two energy recovery systems – the removal of WEC-mandated fuel flow and software restrictions increased power significantly.
In total, the 919 Hybrid Evo benefitted from 260hp more than the original racing car (220hp more from the combustion engine and 40hp more from the energy recovery system), taking the total output to around 1,200hp in a car that really didn't weigh very much.
Along with all the additional power, Porsche also changed various aerodynamic elements, adding a larger front diffuser and bigger rear wing that both benefit from Formula One style actively controlled drag reduction systems.
The final piece of the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo puzzle was to reduce the car’s weight through the removal of anything that wasn’t needed for the lap record attempt (windscreen wipers, electronic devices from race control, lights) and to employ a brand new tyre from Porsche’s multi-year partner, Michelin.