A new season of the World Endurance Championship gets underway this weekend, with the first event on the eight-race calendar being the 6 Hours of Silverstone in the U.K. Having already had a close look at the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the new Nissan GTR LM NISMO and the Toyota TS040 Hybrid for the 2015 season, it’s now time to take a look at the final contender in the premier LMP1 class: the 2015 Porsche 919 Hybrid.
The 2015-spec car is actually an update of the 919 Hybrid raced by Porsche last season. The German team had been away from top-level endurance racing for many years until last year, when it entered the WEC. Porsche missed out on the overall win, which went to Toyota, but now it’s back with a new and improved 919 Hybrid.
In developing the 2015-spec car, engineers were tasked with designing a car that was more efficient, more rigid, easier to handle, lighter and more robust. The single biggest change, however, was a switch to the highest of the four energy categories in the LMP1 class: the 8-megajoule category, meaning the performance of the energy recovery system was able to be increased by around one-third as compared to 2014.
The main power source is still a turbocharged 2.0-liter V-4 engine, and it’s this that works in concert with an electric drive system and two KERS bits. The gasoline engine powers the rear wheels while the single-motor electric drive system powers the front pair. The gasoline engine is rated at more than 500 horsepower while the electric motor adds a bit more than 400 hp to the tally. A liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery temporarily stores converted braking energy from the front axle as well as converted exhaust-gas energy.
The vehicle’s lower weight and improved overall rigidity, as well as optimizations made to the suspension and aerodynamics, improved the handling of the endurance racing car, Porsche tells us. What’s most impressive is that despite the significant weight reductions, the engineers were still able to make certain key components more robust.
Porsche will enter two cars in the opening race in Silverstone but will switch to three cars for later events, including the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June. The drivers, in no particular order, include Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber, Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy.
Note, Porsche, together with its racing partner Team Manthey, will also continue to compete in the GTE class for production-based cars using its 2015 911 RSR.
2015 Porsche 911 RSR race car