Timo Bernhard claims Nurbürgring lap record in Porsche 919

Timo Bernhard has claimed an all-time Nürburgring lap record in the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo, with a staggering lap time of 5:19.55 outpacing the great Stefan Bellof’s Nürburgring lap record of 6:11.13, set in qualifying for the 1983 Nürburgring 1000kms.

Bellof’s lap record had been regarded as almost unbreakable, as it was set on a shorter circuit: a section having been bypassed to avoid construction of the new grand prix circuit. While today’s Nürburgring Nordschleife is 14.2 miles (20.8 kilometres) long, the ’83 circuit was a smidge under 13 miles in total. Adding almost 1500 metres to the distance had made the record almost unassailable.

Race car engineering has enjoyed substantial advancements in the intervening years, with hybrid power, four-wheel traction and modern tyre technology bringing incredible mid-corner speed and acceleration into play. That said, you still need a nut behind the wheel and Porsche chose 37 year-old works driver, Timo Bernhard for the job. It was a solid decision.

“This is a great moment for me and for the entire team,” said Bernhard. “It is the icing on the cake for the 919 programme. I’m pretty familiar with the Nordschleife, but today I got to learn it in a new way. Thanks to the downforce, you can stay on full throttle in places I never imagined. For me, Stefan Bellof is and remains a giant; today, my respect for his achievement with the technology available back then increased even more.”

Dickie Meaden was at the circuit to see the lap record, with access to the speed data from the record-breaking run. “So, approach to Schwedenkreuz was 344 km/h, took crest at 322. VMAX on Dottinger was 369 km/h, lap average 233.9 km/h” tweeted Meaden, who last year made his own attempt on Bellof’s record in the Toyota LMP1 simulator.

The 919 continues to demonstrate just how much excitement electric power can bring to road cars. The other side of this is that it’s hard to imagine manufacturers and lawmakers allowing tomorrow’s hybrid performance cars to run completely unrestricted on public roads, given their seemingly unlimited performance potential.

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