During the first round of the 2016 FIA (International Automobile Federation) World Endurance Championship (WEC), Porsche begins its mission to defend the title. The season’s highlight, the Le Mans 24-Hours in June, is the third round of the WEC. The Porsche 919 Hybrid, with its innovative power train concept, consisting of a downsizing 2.0-liter V4 turbocharged petrol engine and two different energy recovery systems, has been significantly developed for even more efficiency. Although the 2016 regulations stipulate an 8.0-percent lower fuel consumption, the 919 almost equaled its lap times from the previous year at the official WEC Prologue in Le Castellet. For the six-hour race on the demanding Silverstone Formula One circuit, the prototype has got aerodynamically optimized body work for high down force in the fast corners.
“In Silverstone our title defense begins,” said Fritz Enzinger, LMP1 vice president. “Whatever the actual race result is, the 919 Hybrid must prove it is competitive enough to win races. This has to be our target and, after intense testing, we are confident of achieving that.”
The 260-strong Porsche Team led by Enzinger and team principal Andreas Seidl tackles the third consecutive season with the same driver line-up. As the reigning world champions, Timo Bernhard of Denmark, Brendon Hartley of New Zealand and Mark Webber of Australia have the No. 1 on their car. Team-mates Romain Dumas of France, Neel Jani of Chile and Marc Lieb of Germany share the No. 2 sister car.
“We have kept the car’s concept and thanks to this stability were able to develop the 919 in detail. Weight reduction and performance improvement from various components have made the 919 even more efficient. Suspension and aero development have meant better handling. For the first time we have a high down-force aero package in place for Silverstone circuit’s fast corners. In the previous years, we had no resources to do that because we focused so much on Le Mans,” said Team Principal Andreas Seidl.
“Since the 2015 WEC finale in November, we have covered almost 23,000 kilometers of testing with the 919 in different specifications. It was partly en- durance and partly performance testing. Also as a team we have improved over the winter. We are ready for the new season and excited to see were we stand com- pared to our competition,” he added.
“We have had good tire testing, good endurance running and have improved constantly. To me Silverstone stands for heritage and driving fun. There couldn’t be a better track to kick off the season. In 2014 and 2015, our car missed out on a tiny bit of luck there, which hopefully will change now. Mark has won in every race category in Silverstone, so now it’s time he also gets a win there at the wheel of a prototype. Also Brendon has a great Silverstone tally. Let’s go now,” said Bernhard.
“The number one looks gorgeous on our Porsche. It is the fruits of everything we have done last year, and we will have to work incredibly hard to keep it in our team. We’re super respectful of the opposition. Silverstone is a track on which you really can let fast cars like our prototypes go. I’m expecting a good crowd again for the season’s opening round, because the British fans like sports car racing a lot,” said Webber.