Porsche has begun testing its 2014 World Endurance Championship contender, the 919 Hybrid, at the Paul Ricard circuit in France today.
The car was unveiled to the public at the Geneva motor show in March, but this marks its first time on track in its racing colours.
Porsche's new petrol-electric hybrid-powered prototype has been constructed to the latest LMP1 regulations, which stipulate the car must not exceed 4650mm in length, 1900mm in width and 1050mm in height and weigh no less than 870kg.
Described as the most complex Porsche race car ever, the 919 Hybrid is powered by a newly developed single-turbo 2.0-litre V4 direct-injection petrol engine that forms a load-bearing function within the chassis. It is claimed to rev to 9000rpm and drives the rear wheels.
The combustion engine is supported by an electric motor mounted within the front axle that uses lithium-ion batteries. The electric motor provides drive to the front wheels when activated, giving the 919 Hybrid temporary four-wheel-drive capability.
Porsche’s latest race car, which will return the company to the premiere class of the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June, boasts two different energy recovery systems, including brake energy recuperation and an innovative thermal energy recovery system housed within the exhaust system.
Porsche’s engineers have developed the 919 Hybrid with an eight-Megajoule-per-lap energy recovery boost function, the highest figure permitted under the latest LMP1 regulations, which grant a maximum fuel allowance of 4.64 litres per lap.
Porsche claims the 919 Hybrid has undergone over 2000 hours of wind tunnel testing both at the company’s new wind tunnel facility in Weissach and at the University of Stuttgart.
Among the drivers assembled by Porsche for its two-strong 919 Hybrid assault on the 2014 World Endurance Championship is former Red Bull F1 driver, Mark Webber. The 37-year-old Australian will be partnered in one car by 24-year-old New Zealander Brendon Hartley and 33-year-old German Timo Bernhard.
The second car will be piloted by 33-year-old German Marc Lieb together with 36-year-old French ace Romain Dumas and 30-year-old Swiss driver Neel Jani.