The team which won Le Mans in 2016 have just gone and shattered another record that some thought would never be broken. The track is the 12.9 mile (20.8km) Nürburgring Nordschleife, and Porsche factory driver Timo Bernhard drove a Porsche 919 Evo around it in just 5 minutes 19.55 seconds.
Porsche – 35 years ago
Until now, the fastest man to ever lap the Nordschleife was the late Stefan Bellof. By the time of his run in 1983, the track was considered too dangerous for Formula 1, but little else had changed since the 1920s. Nordschleife was still workable for Group C though, which held its 1983 1000kms of Nürburgring there.
During qualifying for the race, Bellof, driving a works Porsche 956 lapped the track in an astonishing 6 minutes 11.13 seconds.
When the shorter and much safer Nürburgring GP Circuit opened in 1984, the Nordschleife’s days of hosting the very fastest racing series were over.
Bellof’s time, therefore, was presumably the last word in speed around this dangerous small width track.
That is until the 919 Evo program!
The Porsche 919 – Unleashed
After Porsche won at Le Mans for the third time with the 919 Hybrid, making 18 in total overall wins at the French race Circuit, the car manufacturer decided to end the 919 Hybrid racing program. However, instead of just sticking the race cars in the museum, Porsche decided to see how fast they could really go.
New engine management software and no need to abide by a fuel-flow restriction, bumped the 919’s turbocharged V4 engine output from 500hp (373kW) to 720hp (537kW). And the hybrid system to 10-percent stronger at 440hp (328kW).
Active aerodynamics at the front and rear increased downforce significantly in the corners and decreased drag on the straights. The suspension has been beefed up to cope with higher loads, and the traction control and brake-by-wire systems have been enhanced. About 39kg of weight was removed, and Michelin even made a bespoke tyre for the car.
What was Porsche’s goal?
They decided to carry out a farewell tour for the car, now named the 919 Evo, with the goal of setting some new lap records.
Our first clue as to the sheer speed in the 919 Evo came in April 2018.
Porsche took it to the Belgian track of Spa-Francorchamps, where driver Neel Jani drove it around in 1 minute 41.77 seconds. This was 12 seconds faster than the 919 Hybrid’s best time, and almost 8/10ths of a second faster than the current F1 lap record at the track. Pretty impressive!
But the one everyone was waiting to see was an all-out run at the Nordschleife.
Prior to this year’s 24 Hour Nürburgring race in May, the Porsche 919 Evo gave some indication of it’s capabilities by running some demonstration laps in formation with Bellof’s 956. However, a busy race weekend isn’t the ideal time to set a record like this, so Porsche returned when the Evo could have the track all to itself. The in-car footage that followed was incredible!
Personally I am not sure which was more impressive, the 228mph (367km/h) Vmax on the main straight, or the sheer speed Timo Bernhard carried through the corners.
Bernhard’s incredible time in the 919 Evo?
5 Minutes 19.55 Seconds
This is almost an entire minute faster than Stefan Bellof’s qualifying time, AND more than a minute faster than he managed during the 1983 race.
Another out standing Porsche achievement.