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THE MOST interesting car being unveiled at the 84th Geneva Motor Show, March 6 to 16, 2014, is the Porsche 919 Hybrid. This LMP1-H entry for the 2014 Le Mans 24-hour race joins the Audi R18 e-tron Quattro and Toyota TS040 Hybrid in showing that endurance racing has overtaken Formula 1 as the pinnacle of innovation in world motorsports.
Both F1 and the WEC (the World Endurance Championship) have new technical regulations emphasizing efficiency over outright speed. The 2014 technical regulations for F1, all 89 pages of them, can be read or even downloaded at http://goo.gl/Fbcqsy. The 80 pages of technical regulations for LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype 1 Hybrid) and LMP1-L (LMP1 Light, sans energy recovery, for privateer entries only) can be had at http://goo.gl/gf7uHN. If you have the spare time, they make for entertaining reading.
Summarized Matthias Müller, chairman of Porsche AG, “In 2014, it will not be the fastest car that wins the World Endurance Championship series and the 24 hours of Le Mans. Rather, it will be the car that goes the farthest with a defined amount of energy.”
There’s a good argument that the WEC is closer to formula libre (racing free of restrictions) than today’s F1.
As an example, design of a 2014 F1 engine is tightly defined: It has to be a gasoline-fueled direct-injected turbocharged 1.6-liter 90-degree V-6. By contrast, there’s no restriction on WEC cylinder count, layout or even displacement. Fuel-flow metering is the primary equalizer. WEC turbos are not required, though permitted.
Automakers respond with innovative choices. Audi opts for turbocharging its 3.7-liter R-18 e-tron quattro—and burning a synthetically derived diesel fuel. Toyota’s TS040 Hybrid has a normally aspirated gasoline-fueled 5.3-liter V-8.
As yet another WEC variation, the Porsche 919 Hybrid uses a turbocharged gasoline-direct-injected 2.0-liter V-4. It’s said to rev to 9000 rpm and produce around 500 hp. As with other modern race car designs, the 919’s engine block is a stressed member of its chassis.
Both F1 and WEC have two distinct systems of energy recovery: the now-familiar KERS, kinetic energy recovery of braking energy, and also an EGER recovering energy from engine exhaust gases. Each transforms this energy into electricity by means of its appropriate Generator Unit.
But, again, there’s a contrast. In F1 the recovered energy is stored in a battery pack, albeit an advanced one of undisclosed details. In WEC, the choices are more varied: Audi uses an electromechanical flywheel system developed by Williams Hybrid Power. Toyota opts for ultracapacitors, which store energy in electric fields, not chemically as in a battery. The Porsche 919 Hybrid uses a lithium-ion battery pack.
The 919 Hybrid’s KERS is similar to the one on the Porsche 918 Spyder. Braking energy captured from the front wheels is converted to electricity and stored in a lithium-ion battery.
The 919 Hybrid’s other energy recovery system depends on hot exhaust gases exiting the engine’s turbo. The Heat Motor Generator Unit resides atop the 919 Hybrid engine, where its plumbing and associated hardware dwarf the V-4. EGER energy, like that of the KERS, is stored in the car’s centrally mounted battery pack.
On driver demand, this energy is returned to the front wheels through an electric motor integrated into the unit. At Le Mans, this all-wheel-drive mode is permitted only at speeds exceeding 120 km/h (75 mph).
The 919 Hybrid has been photographed at Sebring prior to its adoption of official Porsche Team livery. There’s also a more recent Porsche video at http://goo.gl/l44Il0.
Porsche’s Matthias Müller summarizes, “The 919 Hybrid is our fastest mobile research laboratory and the most complex race car that Porsche has ever built.”
And one of the more significant race cars as well. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014
I was fascinated by Porsche, Auudi, and Toyota at LeMans..each used a different
manner to store energy..batteries in Poscher’s car, flywheel in the Audi and capacitior in the Toyota…Hope you can comment on the advantages of each and why each builder chose the method used…Grey McGown Fort Worth p.s. so glad I discovered your blog…I really think it’s wonderful…
Many thanks, Grey.
That would be a neat topic.