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Porsche takes top two spots at Le Mans, Audi third

The second-generation Porsche Team 919 Hybrids (earlier post) took first and second place at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans (the 83rd running). The Nº 19 Porsche Team 919 Hybrid shared by Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy and Nico Hülkenberg took first (395 laps), while the sister car Nº 17, wheeled by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley, were right behind them in second (394 laps). Audi still made the podium; defending race winners Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer were third (393 laps) in the Nº 7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

The first and second place finishers. Click to enlarge.

The winning Porsche led the race from the ninth hour. Porsche’s win came 17 years after its last win in 1998 (including the TWR-Porsche and Dauer-Porsche wins).

Lotterer in the Nº 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro produced the fastest race lap in 3:17.476 on lap 337.

Porsche competed this year in the 8 MJ category (8 MJ of recovered energy per race lap—the highest of the current four energy categories in the LMP1 class. (The amount of liquid fuel that may be used in a lap decreases in proportion to the amount of electrical energy a driver is able to employ.)

Porsche retained the basic concept of its Class 1 Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) for the second generation: a downsized turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine and two different energy recovery systems. However, Porsche refined virtually every component, bringing total system power to nearly 1,000 hp (746 kW), while making the vehicle more efficient, more rigid, easier to handle, lighter and more robust.

Porsche increased the combustion efficiency of the now lighter and more rigid 2-liter V4 turbocharged gasoline engine for its second season. The V engine’s load-bearing function (90 degree cylinder bank angle) within the chassis was also optimized by means of geometric adjustments that have led to better overall rigidity. The previously used centralized exhaust tract was replaced by a twin exhaust-pipe system in order to improve output and optimize the vehicle’s aerodynamics. The 500 hp combustion engine powers the rear axle. Click to enlarge.


The kinetic energy produced at the front axle when braking is converted into electrical energy. The second energy recovery system is installed in the exhaust tract, where the exhaust-gas stream drives a second turbine (in parallel with the turbocharger) that acts as a generator. The electricity thus produced—along with that generated by the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) at the front axle— is temporarily stored in Li-ion battery cells (A123 Systems).

The driver can call up power from the cells—more than 400 hp if he engages the full-boost function. This power is applied to the front axle by the electric motor, and it temporarily transforms the 919 Hybrid into an all-wheel drive race car with system power of nearly 1,000 hp. Click to enlarge.


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