It started, like all good ideas, with beer. Porsche left top-running endurance racing and the team of the 919 Hybrid – a three-time Le Mans winner – consoled themselves with a few beers when they set up a plan. Why not free the car from all its stifling World Endurance Championship restrictions to see how fast a hybrid prototype can really drive? Then take it to some iconic racetracks to show the public exactly what a car without frontiers can achieve …
Less than a year later, the 919 Hybrid Evo crashed into a 35-year-old lap record – somewhere else – the Nürburgring , Sure, a & # 39; Ring Record & # 39; is proclaimed almost weekly, but this came without confusing reservations or qualifiers. It is not the fastest front-wheel drive this or seven-seat the ; It's simply the fastest car ever on the Nordschleife. Surely everyone can get upset about it.
While Porsche kept his cards close to his chest, he dropped a very big hint when the 91
I knew right away that if there was one thing I had to see this year, it was the 919 that took history. So, early in the morning of June 29, I met a band of brightly-colored security marshals talking briefly to Porsches pit crew before heading to their posts to drive faster than ever. Maybe it will always be like this.
The silence among the Porsche engineers was surprising until I chatted with them and realized how many months of work on simulators and test sessions had passed. Although the 919 Evo lap record at Spa-Francorchamps is impressive, it sounds like a test session to set up the car for a larger, more infamous racetrack just above the Belgian-German border.
They were prepared, and so was Timo Bernhard, the man who fulfilled the duties. When Porsche announced the program, he stretched his hand straight for that leg of the & # 39; 919 Tribute Tour & # 39; and he got the job from the back of his big resume of winnings at the 'ring.
Simulations suggested a 5m30s The round was within easy reach so he was in a relaxed mood the night before. "It's not like qualifying," he told me. "There is no pressure, no competition, at this kind of speed the challenge is not to be distracted by it, the curbs are big and there is a very fine line where you can drive this car."  The time for the route started at 8 o'clock in the morning. Porsche wanted it earlier, for lower track temperatures, but the forces of the Nürburgring were worried about the noisy noise the 919 makes when upshifting. The first round was a gentle round of sighting, and when we gathered excitedly in Plant Garden 2, we were a little disappointed at how unclear the car was when it burned out. When we returned to the pits, we found that the gentle, undramatic lap lasted 6:38 minutes – faster than any road car ever had on the ring. Hikes.
A faster, warm-up round ensued. There seemed to be little time to breathe between Timo's departure and the return to the pits, almost as if he had stumbled through a loop in time and returned two minutes earlier; the so-called warm-up was a 5m31.
Gently applauded applause from the team before rolling in a new set of tires (the 919 needed brand new bespoke Michelins on each lap) and Timo went out for a real gear. Longer celebrations this time, when he returned twenty-five years later. Well within the team's goals and 47 seconds ahead of Bellof's legendary time. I started hammering the story for TopGear.com, not wanting to tempt fate by dictating anything before.
When the story was done to live, Timo had identified a few places where he could tweak his lines "I did not want to come and say" that's the lap time I'm targeting & # 39; ; "he told me later when he returned and returned with a 5: 1.9.545sec. "I just wanted a car that I was happy with and in which I was able to generate speed, then the lap time came out at the end." It was not a qualifying, it should show that the car can do well at a good speed to run. And for all fans watching, they probably saw a car they had never seen before on this track. I know that the fans at the Nürburgring are something very special. If something happens here, like our record attempt, people can feel it in the air. People are on the phone and suddenly the store is full. You feel the enthusiasm.
He's not wrong – even on the Internet, the usual exhausted response to a "ring record" has been replaced by complete reverence, and while many people complain about the lack of official regulation when it comes to the scheduled Nordschleife rounds it's the only way to get over it with a car that does not follow any rules, a car that, like all good ideas, was designed on a table full of beer.