Organisers FIA and ACO confirmed the entry of two vehicles and the members of the new driver squad in an online press conference held today.
The hybrid racing car with starting number 1 will be driven by Neel Jani (33, Switzerland), André Lotterer (35, Germany) and Nick Tandy (32, Great Britain). Jani is currently joint WEC World Champion and 2016 Le Mans winner. Lotterer claimed the title of World Champion in 2012 behind the wheel of an Audi and brings with him the experience gained from three overall victories at Le Mans, while Tandy formed part of the winning 2015 Porsche team in Le Mans. The sister car with starting number 2 will be shared between 2015 World Champion Timo Bernhard (36, Germany) and the two New Zealanders Earl Bamber (26) and Brendon Hartley (27). Bamber claimed joint victory with Tandy at Le Mans in 2015, while the same year saw Hartley share the title of World Endurance Champion with Bernhard.
Porsche has completely reworked the Class 1 prototype 919 Hybrid propelled by more than 662 kW (900 hp) and will start the 2017 season with its sights set on winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA Endurance World Championship for the third time in a row. “We want the hat-trick”, declares Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, setting out the ultimate goal of the 260-strong team in Weissach. In both 2015 and 2016, Porsche swept the board, winning the team's 17th and 18th overall victory in Le Mans and securing the title of both Manufacturers' and Drivers' World Champion.
Enzinger continues: “Each and every one of the nine endurance races presents a challenge. Reliability is the basic requirement; six hours of navigating around the many cars in the different categories, each driving at different speeds, makes each race unpredictable – and ultimately it is often only seconds that separate the winner from the rest of the field. At four times the duration of the other races, Le Mans forms the pinnacle of the series. This 24-hour race pushes both men and machine to their absolute limits. Toyota is set to be a very strong contender in the top-tier LMP1 cate-gory for the 2017 season. We will face up to them with a meticulously enhanced Porsche 919 Hybrid and a team of six first-class drivers.”
The evolution of the Porsche prototype will be unveiled on March 31 at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Following this, all teams will perform official test drives on April 1 and 2 at the FIA WEC Prologue in Italy. Team manager Andreas Seidl will continue to serve as acting technical director.
WEC – the ideal platform for technological pioneers
With its unique efficiency regulations for Class 1 Le Mans prototypes (LMP1), the WEC represents an ideal platform for Porsche – and it was these regulations that fuelled the company's return to elite motorsport in 2014. The regulations provide en-gineers with an unusual degree of freedom to introduce different drive concepts and require forward-looking technologies such as hybridisation, highly efficient engine downsizing and consistent use of lightweight construction. As a result, the WEC provides the perfect platform for Porsche AG to develop and test innovations for road-going sportscars.
The Porsche 919 Hybrid's innovative drive concept
The hybrid drive on the 919 combines downsizing turbo technology with efficient direct fuel injection for the two-litre V4 combustion engine and uses a lithium-ion battery to store electrical energy from two different energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). The 919 Hybrid is the only prototype to recover energy during acceleration as well as braking. It boasts a system output of more than 900 hp (662 kW) and Porsche has already channelled a number of the Hybrid's features into the development of its road-going sportscars. The most obvi-ous example of this is the 800 volt technology for the purely electric concept study Mission E, which, among other things, enables extremely short battery charging times. This four-door sportscar study is set to enter series production before the end of the decade.
Schedule for the FIA World Endurance Championship 2017
March 31: Unveiling of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in Monza (IT)
April 1-2: Monza Prologue (IT)
April 16: 6 Hours of Silverstone (GB)
May 6: 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BE)
June 4: Le Mans Test Day (FR)
June 17-18: 24 Hours of Le Mans (FR)
July 16: 6 Hours of Nürburgring (DE)
September 3: 6 Hours of Mexico (MX)
September 16: 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas (Texas, USA)
October 15: 6 Hours of Fuji (JP)
November 5: 6 Hours of Shanghai (CN)
November 18: 6 Hours of Bahrain (BH)