Porsche fielded two of their new 919 hybrid race cars at the 6 hours of Silverstone today – the first round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship with a 43000 crowd braving the anticipated rain.
2014 marks the return to the very top flight of GT and endurance racing on the world stage for Porsche after a 16-year absence. Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG describes the all-new 919 Hybrid as “like a high speed research laboratory”. New FIA regulations for LMP1-H class has given the team’s engineers an unusual amount of leeway and the season will demand the use of pioneering technologies including hybridisation and, like F1, the downsizing of engine capacities. But the new car will be up against reigning world champions Audi and WEC race winners Toyota, with their new 2014 hybrid challengers.
Two of these new Porsche hybrids were part of a 31-car grid for the opening round of the 2014 WEC. The factory teams are very much international: Neel Jani (Switzerland), Romain Dumas (France) and Marc Lieb (Germany) shared the #14 car with Timo Bernhard (Germany), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand) and ex-F1 legend Mark Webber (Australia) in #20. Sadly a collision between the #14 car and one of the two Audis lead to both retiring and it was a Toyota 1-2in LMP1 when the race was terminally red-flagged due to standing water with the second Porsche taking third – a good result for the car’s race debut.
The latest variant of the 911, the 991, in RSR guise competes alongside the 919s in the GTE-Pro category of the WEC series, with Patrick Pilet and Marco Holzer as lead drivers in the two factory cars. Already race-proven, with victories at their Daytona and Sebring 12 Hours debuts, the 991 represents another generation of the most successful car in GT race history. The #91 and 92 cars went the duration and took first and second in GTE-Pro.
Aston Martin made a strong showing in the final GTE-Am class with a Nicki Thiim, David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulsen taking the win in their V8 Vantage, with the #98 Aston second and the #81 AF Corse Ferrari 458 taking third.
Next stop for the FIA WEC is Spa-Francorchamps on May 3rd.