Porsche has revealed the name of its challenger for next year’s Le Mans title. It is called… 919.
This is a significant number. Wolfgang Hatz, R&D chief at Porsche, says: “The vehicle name follows on from the tradition of the Le Mans-winning 917, but it is also with a view to the 918 Spyder. To continue leading the way, we need to keep learning.”
At Porsche’s ‘Night of Champions’ event , the company confirmed not only the name of the car it hopes will beat Audi (and Toyota) next year, but also the full driver line-up.
Mark Webber, of course, has made the switch from F1 to WEC (and is a bit of a Porsche nut anyway), while the others are long-time Porsche works driver Marc Lieb, alongside Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, and a young New Zealander by the name of Brendan Hartley. He’s only 24…
Webber himself had a first taste of the new 919 at Portugal last week, ahead of schedule. “For me a lot of it is familiar,” he said. “[But] a lot is foreign, everything is special. I’m absorbing every bit of information I can and I’m already looking forward to the next tests.”
What’s also interesting is the three very distinct powertrain routes the top three are pursuing in a bid for 2014 Le Mans victory. Porsche will run a 2.0-litre petrol engine with direct injection mated to a hybrid electric system, and we expect Toyota to run a similar system to last year’s V8 petrol/electric set-up.
Audi of course, will run a V6 TDI plus electric motor, though it’ll have to run without long-time Audi man and three-time Le Mans winner Allan McNish, who has today announced the end of his Audi race career. The Scotsman will still represent Audi Sport and be involved with the team, but won’t drive for them anymore.
“I’ve won the championships and races I wanted to win and frankly there’s no better way to end my Audi sportscar race career than going out as a World Champion,” he said.
“My fellow Scot and mentor Jackie Stewart knew when to get into things but also knew when to get out and he has taught me that lesson.”
With three Le Mans titles to his name – along with 66 top-three podiums including 29 outright race wins during his 13-year tenure with Audi – the steely Scot’s not had a bad run. Good work, big man…