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Porsche V4 Hybiyd


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The success of Porsche's Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid racer, which also won last year's World Endurance Championship in only its second attempt thanks in part to Aussie Mark Webber, has been well documented.

But now, for the first time, Porsche has revealed the turbocharged 90-degree V4 petrol-electric unit — which now develops a gob-smacking 900hp (670kW) despite displacing just two litres — that powers it.

Naturally, Porsche claims it's the "most innovative drive concept on the entire grid", incorporating "the most efficient combustion engine Porsche has built so far".

Key components include a turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine driving the rear axle, an exhaust energy recovery system, a front-axle brake energy recovery system, and a lithium-ion battery to store energy for the front axle's electric motor.

Developed in Porsche’s Weissach R&D facility, with help from the company's production car engineers when it came to combustion and fuel-mixture development, it features closely-spaced short-stroke cylinders and a central direct fuel-injection system.

The result was a one-two victory in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour and both drivers' and manufacturers' world titles the same year.

After the 16 races since its 2014 debut, the 919 has notched up 12 pole positions, seven race wins, four one-two victories, five fastest race laps and two WEC title (manufacturers’ and drivers’). Last year no other car started on the front row.

To celebrate its 2015 WEC success in the lead-up to this year's season, Porsche will display the 919 Hybrid’s engine at race events, exhibitions and in the Porsche Museum at Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.

But while the diminutive 2.0-litre V4 turbo engine that took Porsche took its 17th overall win at Le Mans last year delivered more than 500hp (373kW), it has been nobbled for the 2016 season.

New regulations require a lower amount of energy from the fuel used per lap and have reduced the fuel flow for all Class 1 Le Mans prototypes (LMP1). Porsche says this results in a loss of eight per cent of fuel and, therefore, a power output of less than 500hp.

Combined with both energy recovery systems that serve the front axle's 'e-machine', Porsche says the 2016 919 Hybrid’s overall power system now outputs "circa 900hp".

“Right from the beginning we had a brave concept, but it was also the right concept. This is paying off now," says the 919's technical director, Alexander Hitzinger.

“After having built an entirely new 919 for the 2015 season, this time we keep the same chassis structure. Therefore there wasn’t an exact roll-out day for the new car, actually we change the car step by step to the 2016 specification.

"According to our simulation, the rule changes in terms of fuel consumption and fuel flow should cost us about four seconds per lap in Le Mans. We cannot estimate yet to what extent we can make up for that by improvements in other areas of the 919 Hybrid, or if that is even possible.”

Porsche announced an unchanged WEC driver line-up for 2016 in November, with world champions Timo Bernhard (Germany, 35), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand, 26) and Mark Webber (Australia, 39) sharing the #1 car and Romain Dumas (France, 38), Neel Jani (Switzerland, 32) and Marc Lieb (Germany, 35) driving the #2 car.

The 2016 FIA WEC kicks off with its traditional Prologue in Paul Ricard, Southern France on March 25-26, before the UK's Silverstone six-hour  (April 17), Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps six-hour (May 7), France's Le Man 24-hour (June 18-19), Germany's Nurburgring six-hour (July 24), the Mexico City six-hour (Sep 3), the USA's COTA six-hour (Sep 19), Japan's Fuji six-hour (Oct 16), China's Shanghai six-hour (Nov 6) and the Bahrain six-hour sedaon final on November 19.

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