Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo sets unrestricted lap time at Spa-Francorchamps

Look for record attempts at the Nurburgring and Laguna Seca, too

  • Image Credit: Porsche
Race cars, no matter what level or series, are always limited by rules and regulations. Some are highly restrictive while others offer a lot of freedom within defined parameters. At the end of the day there are always compromises. After the 2017 season, Porsche pulled out of the LMP1 WEC prototype class. Still, the team wasn't quite finished with the car. This year, Porsche plans to lap an unrestricted version of the LMP1 car, the 919 Hybrid Evo, at various tracks around the world. It all started this past week with a new lap record at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Spa's new lap record is 1:41.770, 0.783 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton's 2017 record-setting pole position at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG F1 car. The 919 Hybrid Evo was driven by 34-year-old Swiss racing driver Neel Jani. He not only beat Hamilton's time, he beat Porsche's pole position at Spa in 2017 by 12 seconds. His average speed over the 4.35-mile circuit was 152.6 mph.

Of course, this lap time wouldn't be possible without some significant upgrades to the car. On the surface, the 919 Hybrid Evo looks like last year's car sans headlights. That was already a supremely fast machine. It won both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the WEC championship three times from 2015 to 2017.

The 919 Hybrid Evo expands on upgrades planned for the defunct 2018 car. The front diffuser and rear wing are both larger and feature hydraulically-actuated aero elements. Underneath, the turning veins and floor have both been upgraded and are assisted by fixed-height side-skirts. Overall, the 919 Hybrid Evo has 53 percent more downforce than the car that qualified at Spa in 2017.

The powertrain itself hasn't been changed. Porsche engineers just opened the valves a bit. The 919 Hybrid Evo is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged V4 paired with an electric motor. Fuel flow limited the 2017 car to 500 horsepower. Freed from this flow restriction, the turbo V4 now makes 720 horsepower. Thanks to some additional juice, the e-motor now puts out 440 horsepower.

Michelin provided a new tire compound to make better use of the extra power and downforce. Porsche also cut 86 pounds from the car, bringing the dry weight down to 1,872 pounds. The engineers say more could have been achieved if they had access to more resources.

This run at Spa isn't just a one-off. Porsche has plans to take the car to the Nordschleife before the start of the 24 Hours Nürburgring, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Porsche Festival at Brands Hatch and Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca. Don't be surprised if more lap records fall at the feet of the 919 Hybrid Evo.

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