Last week I wrote about not giving a damn about Volkswagen beating the Pikes Peak hillclimb overall record with their bespoke electric race-car. This week I am extremely excited to write about Porsche demolishing the Nurburgring Nordschleife overall record with their 919 EVO race-car.
I am no fan of electric cars, but electric power in concert with combustion engine - hybrids, I can (somewhat) get behind.
Porsche is celebrating their successful FIA WEC campaign - since retired - by throwing a tribute tour showcasing the 919 Hybrid LMP1 car all over the world. During the tour Porsche wanted to break a couple of track records. Utilizing a derestricted specification of the 919 (EVO) with more aero, less weight, increased hybrid boost, and grippier than race-spec Michelin tires, Porsche aimed squarely at two tracks steeped in motorsport tradition: Spa-Franchorchamps, and the Nordschleife.
The Spa record fell back in April, and down went the Nurburgring record this past week with an incomprehensible lap of 5 minutes, 19.55 seconds.
I drive virtually on the Nurburgring almost daily with my GT Sport simulation rig so I can confidently say a lap in the 5 minutes is truly bonkers. A mighty effort of not only the car, but most certainly the driver. The ceaseless attack of heavy g-forces and the reflexes required to navigate a lap that quick is indeed a supreme display of athleticism by Timo Bernard.
Spa is a wonderful track, but the Nordschleife holds all the mystique: the uneven undulating surface, the utter lack of runoff areas, and the immense variation of corners to familiarize. Sir Jackie Stewart nicknamed it “The Green Hell”; Formula One cars have long deemed too fast to race on the track. Only GT3 class cars and below currently do racing on the old Nurburgring.
It makes what Porsche did all the more incredible.
For the longest time fans have wanted manufacturers to take their F1 or LMP1 machinery to do one lap time-attacks on the Nordschleife - just as they do with road cars. There’s been a few demonstration runs over the years (Nick Heidfeld in a BMW F1 car), but nothing concretely timed have ever been done.
Kudos to Porsche for having the balls to do it.