The Porsche 919 Hybrid’s competitive career came to a close when the chequered flag dropped in Bahrain in November 2017 – but its dominance of the motorsport world hasn’t ended just yet, setting a new lap record at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
The 919’s WEC career was remarkable, achieving 17 victories from its 33 races from 2014 to 2017, along with three constructors’ titles, three drivers’ titles, and three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Porsche is now committed to a Formula E campaign from the 2019 season, but it hasn’t quite finished with the dominating 919 Hybrid LMP1 car just yet, taking a slightly modified version of the car called the 919 Evo on a world tour during 2018 under the guise (and hashtag) of #919tribute.We cannot display this gallery
Slightly modified? Here’s the unusual part: Porsche has been spotted testing the revised 919 at Spa-Francorchamps, with aerodynamic changes that take it beyond the version of the car that is homologated for use in the World Endurance Championship.
Most notably, there’s an enormous new rear wing which extends both higher and further back than is allowed under LMP1 regulations, as well as larger and more prominent side skirts.
Both presumably contribute to more efficient aerodynamics than allowed under conventional regulations, and both invite the assumption that while the 919 may be done with wheel-to-wheel competition, the world tour is looking like much more than just a simple jaunt from one motor show to another.
The clue to that is in the 1:41.770 just set by works driver Neel Jani around the 7km Spa circuit – almost eight tenths of a second quicker than Lewis Hamilton’s outright lap record of 1:42.553 set in August 2017 in the Mercedes-AMG F1 W07. Along the way, Jani set a top speed of 359kph.
According to Team Principal Andreas Seidl, the project is designed to show the 919’s potential freed from some of the constraints of WEC regulations. ‘All six 2017 LMP1 drivers contributed to the project’, Seidl confirmed.
‘The 919 Evo is brutally impressive. It is definitely the fastest car I ever drove. The grip level is at a fully new dimension for me, I couldn’t imagine this amount beforehand,’ said Jani after his run. ‘We are not only faster than the F1 pole from 2017. Today’s lap was twelve seconds faster compared to our WEC pole position from last year!’
It’s not difficult to imagine the car now tackling some other iconic locations with high-profile lap times – such as Stefan Bellof’s 6:11.13 in a Porsche 956 around the Nürburgring Nordschleife. If the 919 Evo is capable of knocking a modern F1 car off its perch at Spa, Bellof’s 1983 time must be there for the taking.
It’s speculation at this stage, but for a better look at the car you can see a few of the new details in Porsche’s official “time to say goodbye” video above.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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