Lap Time: Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid—Record Lap at Nürburgring
At the twenty-four-hour race at the Nürburgring, the first Porsche hybrid race car achieves a fabulous time.
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The best lap time of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid is by no means surprising: eight minutes, 35.393 seconds. Not bad, but not outstanding either. Porsche’s first hybrid race car has other, more impressive qualities instead. Its innovative drive allows the vehicle—with which Porsche astonished the public that year—to do ten laps in a row before it has to refuel. Other cars are already heading to the gas pump after eight laps. Two more laps per pit stop—that’s a huge difference over twenty-four hours. The Porsche quickly takes the lead. The competition is getting nervous.
The 911 GT3 R Hybrid owes its superior range to its front axle. The energy recuperated during braking is then transferred to a flywheel accumulator mounted in place of the passenger seat. Either by kickdown or at the push of a button, the flywheel bounces back like a coil spring and feeds two electric motors. What happens then is enough “to drive past the others with a friendly wave,” says Jörg Bergmeister, one of the drivers at the time. When the electric motors are switched on automatically or at the push of a button, an additional 120 kW (163 hp) is available—enough power to pull away from the field or to relieve the four-liter, six-cylinder boxer engine in phases. Full throttle with hybrid involvement means that the throttle valve only opens 60 percent. That saves gas. Race Lab is the name of the project with which Porsche tests hybrid technology under real racing conditions—and drives to victory right from the start. At least until noon on that Sunday.
Only one hour and forty-five minutes left. The surprise success seems to be within reach for the Porsche team. Suddenly, a message comes through over the radio. It’s over. Done. It’s not the new electrics but a broken valve spring that finishes the 911 GT3 R Hybrid's race shortly before victory. But it’s a start. One hundred and eight years after the world's first hybrid car—the Lohner-Porsche Mixte—was launched at the Exelberg race in Austria, a new era of electric mobility dawns in the history of Porsche.