Porsche Hybrid Power

September 30, 2010

Porsche Hybrid Power

September 30, 2010

The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid on track. Photo credit: Rick Dole for Michelin North America

Porsche top guns to pilot race car of the future at Petit Le Mans

Just two words rocked the performance automotive world earlier this season: Porsche Hybrid.

Now, American Le Mans Series fans here at Petit Le Mans will be the first in North America to see the exciting new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid in competition.

Introduced at the Geneva motor show in March, the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid is not just any hybrid.

It utilizes a Williams Formula One derived flywheel kinetic energy recovery system and features an electric flywheel power generator located in the cockpit beside the driver to store and deliver high amounts of energy very quickly.

The combination of the 480 horsepower internal combustion engine and two 60-kilowatt electric motors uses less fuel without compromising performance.

What kind of performance? The Porsche Hybrid made its competition debut in a six hour race at the Nürburgring in April, and then stunned onlookers and insiders alike by returning in May to lead much of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

“After the 911 GT3 R Hybrid’s fantastic performance at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we are now eager to gain more experience with the hybrid technology on a variety of race tracks,” said Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. “At the same time, we would like to show fans and customers in our most important market how our ‘race lab’ performs under racing conditions.”

The two 60-kilowatt electric motors provide an extra 160 horsepower to the front wheels on demand.

When accelerating or overtaking, the driver simply presses the boost paddle on the steering wheel to send energy from the charged generator for an additional six to eight seconds.

The flywheel recovers revs every time the driver brakes so an 85 second lap at Road Atlanta could provide up to 20 seconds of boost.

Each front wheel has its own infinitely adjustable electric motor, so the system can help control traction out of the corners in addition to providing additional straightline speed. Oh yes, it is the easiest 911 to drive in the rain.

Reflecting the seriousness with which Porsche views the hybrid program, Porsche has named the 2010 overall 24 Hours of Le Mans race winning trio of Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller as the drivers for Petit Le Mans.

As the technical rules for hybrid technology in production-based cars are still being established by the
ACO and ALMS, the Hybrid will race at Petit Le Mans “unclassified.” That means it is not eligible for points and trophies here at Road Atlanta, but it seems clear both will follow in the not too distant future.

This story appears in the Petit Le Mans issue of The Alley, Michelin’s trackside publication. It’s also in the “The Alley: In Print” section of michelinracingusa.com

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