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Porsche’s 2014 Le Mans Prototype Is The 919 Hybrid

 
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2014 Porsche 919 hybrid Le Mans prototype race car launch

At Porsche’s annual ‘Night Of Champions’ motorsport celebratory bash held earlier today at the automaker’s R&D center in Weissach, Germany, the name of the new Le Mans prototype that will see the Porsche marque return to top-level endurance racing after 16 years was finally announced. Porsche’s new Le Mans prototype will be known as the '919 hybrid', which means it succeeds both the 917 race car that gave Porsche its first overall Le Mans victory back in 1970 as well as the latest 918 Spyder production model.

“The vehicle name 919 hybrid follows on from the tradition of the Le Mans-winning 917, but it is also with a view to the 918 Spyder, and acknowledges the company’s embarkation into the hybrid future,” Porsche R&D boss Wolfgang Hatz said in a statement. “Maximum efficiency in energy consumption is the directive of the new WEC regulations for the works-entered class 1 prototypes--and that is also the direction for the automobile future.”

The “WEC” Hatz is referring to is the World Endurance Championship, which Porsche will compete in next year (in the top LMP1 category) and whose highlight is the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche last ran in the top category in Le Mans back in 1998 where it was the most successful team. Porsche actually made its return to Le Mans last year, where it was also successful, though in the lesser GTE category.

No other details on the 919 hybrid were revealed but recently Porsche said the car’s drivetrain consists of a four-cylinder gasoline engine with direct injection and two energy recovery systems. Recovered energy is stored in a battery until retrieved by the driver, whereby the energy is directed to a powerful electric motor that provides additional drive to the front axle.

Fellow Volkswagen Group brand Audi, which won this year’s WEC and Le Mans titles, will utilize a TDI diesel engine for the hybrid system in its own 2014 R18 LMP1. Another top contender, Toyota, is yet to reveal details on its 2014 LMP1 but is expected to stick with a gasoline engine.

Porsche also used today’s event to name the full six-man squad that will drive two of the 919 hybrids in next year’s WEC. They are Brendon Hartley, Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Mark Webber.

One final revelation at Porsche’s Night Of Champions event was the automaker's new majority holding in German racing team Manthey Racing, which has helped run Porsche’s various factory teams in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Porsche now has 51 percent of the shares in Manthey Racing.

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