10 facts you perhaps didn’t know about Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
On the build-up to its first official start at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1998, several notable facts, figures and statistics have been exhaustively trotted out. Porsche and endurance racing fans alike for example know that in 2014, Porsche entered Le Mans as a record-holding 16-time overall winner, following its first with the famous red/white-liveried 917 driven by Richard Attwood and Hans Hermann. Most will also know that the most successful Porsche is the 956, which took four victories outright from ’82 to ’85, and that the brand’s last victory came in 1998, Laurent Aïello, Stéphane Ortelli and Allan McNish piloting the GT1-98 across the line for what would turn out to be Porsche’s final race start at La Sarthe for 16 years (probably not a coincidence)
Here though are ten facts you perhaps did not know about Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans:
1. Official records list that 812 Porsches have taken the start at Le Mans across various categories, another record to the company’s name
2. Although the last time Porsche stood atop the overall podium at Le Mans was in 1998, the team ironically entered this year’s race as reigning champions, Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Romain Dumas, and Raymond Narac, Christophe Bourret, and Jean-Karl Vernay having taking double victory in the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am categories respectively with the 911 RSR and 911 GT3 RSR last year.
3. The fastest qualifying lap ever at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was in 1985, when two-time winner Hans-Joachim Stuck took the 962C to pole position at an average speed of 251.45kph. It’s a record unlikely to be broken, particularly since chicanes were installed on Le Hunaudières Straight in 1990 to quell top speed runs
4. Despite Porsche declaring its 2.0-litre turbocharged V4 the ‘most efficient engine ever built in Weissach’, at full chat in normal racing mode around the 13.65km La Sarthe circuit the 919 Hybrid must refuel every 13/14 laps.
5. In 1952, Pierre Levegh – who would tragically meet his end at the infamous 1955 race – made history by racing for 23 of the event’s 24 hour duration, a knackered engine giving up the ghost at the eleventh hour and with a four-lap lead. Today, as a homage to his efforts, no driver may drive more than 14 of the 24 hours.
6. Having trouble packing for summer holidays? Try being a Porsche team mechanic. Alongside the two 919 Hybrid race cars, the Porsche Team brings a spare chassis, six engines, five front and five rear gearboxes, six front and six rear wings, 8 rims, and more than 100 headsets and radios. That’s one hell of a suitcase needed…
7. How many team mechanics would you take to the most famous endurance race on the planet, given that Red Bull Racing boasts a team of 550 per Grand Prix? A couple of thousand, just to be on the safe side? Not quite. Porsche boasts 230 team members, 100 of which are engineers. Only 86 of this number however will be on duty at the track during the race…
8… which is just as well, given the supplies required for a 24-hour race at La Sarthe. Across the team, media and hospitality areas are spread 50 boxes of salad, 50kg of strawberries, 300 melons, 1.2 metric tons of meat, 500kg of fish, 600kg of noodles, 2000 eggs and 1100 loaves of bread. Plus a crap-ton of coffee
9. Amongst the 919 Hybrid’s most celebrated technologies is its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which sends 185kW (250hp) to the front energy compared with the 2.0-litre turbocharged V4’s 500hp output. Across one lap, the system can consume 1.67 kilowatt hours of electricity, equating to 581.2 kWh across a full race distance. If you were to put this amount of energy through an everyday 60w lightbulb, it was stay alight for one year, three months and 13 days without going out.
10. Have you wondered why the two Porsche 919 Hybrid prototypes are this year racing with the numbers #14 and #20? Prepare to facepalm if you have, since this is denotes the year of Porsche’s return to Le Mans….
– select shots courtesy of Eric Fabre