The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb took the checkered flag first in front of some 263,000 spectators that flocked to the otherwise sleepy city of Le Mans on the Sarthe River, France. The team registered an incredible 5,233 kilometers – 384 laps on the storied Circuit de la Sarthe, which contains a mix of closed public roads and a specialist racing circuit. Interestingly, it was the same trio that notched the maiden conquest for the 900-horsepower Porsche prototype in 2014 in Brazil.
In achieving the Le Mans win, the 919 averaged a speed of 216.4 kilometers per hour – considering that for 57 laps, the safety car was out, which limited speed to as little as 80 kph for safety reasons.
On hand to witness the feat from the team garage was Porsche AG Chairman of the Executive Board Oliver Blume, who later said, “What happened in Le Mans is almost incomprehensible. From the first to the last lap this race was competition on the ultimate level in terms of sport and technology – and it was thrilling as well. The race asked the utmost from our cars, our drivers and the team.”
Remarkably, this year marked only the third appearance of Porsche in the top-tier LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) category since ending its 16-year hiatus in 2014. Last year, Car No. 19 with drivers Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy secured Porsche’s 17th victory on the famous French track.
“To win Le Mans is the highlight of the season and it is difficult to believe we have managed it twice now in what is only our third year. Now we look forward. We take a lot of points from here and now we want to defend both world championship titles as well,“ maintained Andreas Seidl, Porsche’s team principal for LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1).
The 919 Hybrid embodies Porsche’s philosophy of “Intelligent Performance,” which stands for the development of innovative vehicle concepts. While pushing the envelope of performance, Porsche engineers make sure that technology is useful, practical and makes the driving experience safer, more enjoyable and even more environmentally sustainable. While definitely a product of high technology, the 919 Hybrid is a result of a carefully balanced overall concept. From the combustion engine to the energy recovery systems, chassis and running gear, aerodynamics and driver ergonomics, the sum of all individual components forms an exceptionally effective unit. It all serves one goal: a maximum of sporty performance within tight fuel economy constraints.
At the core of the vehicle is a compact 2.0-liter V4 and an electric motor, which can speed the composite fiber monocoque-fitted 919 from zero to 100 kph in 2.2 seconds, and to 200 kph in 4.8 seconds. With an effective energy recuperation system, the 919 Hybrid was able to use 2.22 kilowatts per lap. This amount of energy can supply a family home with electricity for three months.