The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) returns to Le Castellet, France, for this season’s official test. A field of 35 cars is expected to take advantage...
Neel Jani has steered a Michelin-equipped Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo to a new lap record for Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. He completed the course in 1m41.770s for an average speed of 245.61kph.
Although Porsche has withdrawn from the FIA World Endurance Championship after securing a third title in 2017 and clocking up three consecutive wins at Le Mans, its 919 Hybrid Evo has been tasked with the mission of breaking a number of prestigious records.
The German make recently booked Spa-Francorchamps for three days with a view to bettering the existing lap record for the Belgian rollercoaster which was posted by Lewis Hamilton who recorded a 1m42.553s last year in his Mercedes W08 Formula 1 car.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid underwent a number of modifications ahead of its attempt, with the power output of its two-litre V4 complete with dual energy-recovery system upgraded to almost 1,200 horsepower after the removal of restrictions dictated by the FIA WEC technical regulations (minimum fuel requirement, energy-recovery restrictions, etc.). The car’s aerodynamics, suspension and brakes were also improved.
As a partner of Porsche in endurance racing, Michelin rose to the challenge too. “The car was fitted with tyres that were very similar to those we will be taking to next month’s 6 Hours of Spa,” says Jérôme Mondain, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programmes. “Their size [31/71-18] and casing were the same despite the higher speeds and downforce. Neel Jani’s time is further evidence of the potential of our endurance racing range.”
Jani started his record-breaking lap at 10:23am with the track temperature standing at 13°C. After reaching 359kph down the Fagnes straight, the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo stopped the clock over the finish line at 1m41.770s, bettering Hamilton’s previous best effort by 0.783s. It was also some 12 seconds faster than the pole-winning time for the 2017 6 Hours of Spa!
“It’s the fastest car I’ve ever driven,” enthused the Swiss former Le Mans winner after his performance. “The grip was extraordinary and Michelin’s tyres were sensational!”
The next stop on Porsche’s ‘Tribute Tour’ will be the Nürburgring’s as a curtain-raiser attraction ahead of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.