Innovative Porsche 919 Hybrid to compete in Le Mans

JonathanJune 11, 2014

Porsche has made a significant return to the top LMP class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), but in order to be successful the car maker will have to overcome a number of challenges.

Its new 919 Hybrid is one of the most complex vehicles to ever leave Stuttgart and, unlike its rivals; Porsche doesn't have the experience from previous years to prepare them for the task ahead.

Porsche is also unique in the way it uses its own engineers to develop its machines for the LMP1 racing team, which is promising for the long term, but remains a substantial risk that may not pay off for this year's race.

The car make is also on a long term endeavour to find optimum energy conversion efficiency, which still gives it the reliability and power needed to succeed at Le Mans. This is having a massive impact on every aspect of the Porsche 919 Hybrid, the aerodynamics of the Le Mans race car, as well as the weight-optimised individual components. 

Technical director LMP1 Alexander Hitzinger and his team are finding solutions that could influence every single car that comes off the Porsche production line in the future. The revolutionary new technical regulations of the WEC for the season ahead have given the German specialists a great deal of freedom, but the amount of fuel available is a major limiting factor.

As this is now a restriction, it makes energy efficiency a top priority for all car makes competing in the race. A hybrid system is also a pre-requisite for the factory cars starting in the LMP1-H category, but everything else, including the method of storing the retrieved energy, is down to Porsche to decide.

The German 919 generates energy for more than 4,500 km in 24 hours but the amount each driver can use per lap is limited at Le Mans, with four classes of energy levels specified.

Porsche has registered the 919 Hybrid for the six megajoule category, which means that the LMP1 prototype can use exactly 1.67 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy for each eight-mile lap on the "Circuit des 24 Heures.

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