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Formula E: Testing in Spain, and Starting From Zero

For Porsche, one of the most successful brands in motorsports history, it can be hard to stay humble. In recognition of their new effort, Porsche has created a video to remind everyone that new circumstances require starting anew, not resting on their laurels and past successes. This eighty-eight second video below doesn’t tell much about the program, and hints that the brand has a lot to learn about Formula E. With just fifteen days of testing allowed before the start of the 2019-2020 season, they certainly have a lot to learn in a very short span of time.

Testing in Spain

Porsche’s Formula E car first took to the track in March for the first of 15 days of pre-season testing, and returned to the track in Spain for three days of additional testing with Brendon Hartley and Neel Jani. As we noted in our previous feature on the new car, the Porsche will share its Spark chassis with the other cars on the grid. Powertrain technology is proprietary to each team, and must not exceed 250kW plus a 10% overboost mode. Batteries must last the duration of an entire 45 minute plus-one-lap race.

While Jani felt confident following today’s tests, Porsche is remaining justifiably coy about how their car is performing. While we may not know lap times, or how the batteries are working, we can say with some certainty that the black carbon racer looks positively mean on track. This is what Jani, Brendon Hartley, Amiel Lindesay, and Malte Huneke had to say on the day’s progress:

Neel Jani (Porsche works driver, regular driver): “I feel the tests with the Porsche Formula E car at Calafat were very positive. It is hugely important to get as many kilometres as possible under our belt during the test phase for our Formula E race car and, in doing so, to gain valuable experience – particularly from a technical point of view. They have been very productive days. I am now looking forward to working with the team over the coming months, as we strive to get the very best out of the Porsche Formula E race car.”

Brendon Hartley (Porsche works driver, test and development driver): “As a test and development driver, it’s my job to support the Porsche Formula E programme with preparations for Season 6 of Formula E. My main focus has been on the simulation work in Weissach. Testing the car on track has been both an enjoyable and challenging experience. It is, of course, enjoyable to drive the car, however, contributing and working with the talented group of people at Porsche on this project is also a real pleasure. »

Amiel Lindesay (Team Manager): “We are very happy with the Porsche Formula E tests at Calafat. We completed an extensive test programme and have laid the foundations for the coming months. The data generated will form a good basis. We will now analyse it in detail to be able to prepare as well as possible for the coming test work.”

Malte Huneke (Technical Project Leader): “The findings from these tests will allow us to take a big step forward in the development of the Porsche powertrain. The primary focus in this phase of preparations is on reliability, before we then concentrate on performance at a later date. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but development is completely on track.“




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Neel Jani Completes First Test Laps For Porsche’s New Formula E Program

With Porsche’s first season in Formula E looming on the horizon this fall, it’s refreshing to finally see the car turning laps at Porsche’s testing grounds in Weissach. The 2019/2020 season entry requires a spec Spark Racing Technologies chassis—The SRT05e—but electric motor and battery technology is proprietary to each team, so long as it produces no more than 250 kW plus a 10% « attack mode » boost. The batteries must be long enough to last the entire 45 minute plus one lap race.

Porsche says its newly developed full electric powertrain passed without incident. Considering Porsche’s own Taycan road car is expected to produce at least 320kW on the top end, it’s no surprise that the motorsport engineers have been able to reliably produce a bit less for the FE car. I seriously look forward to seeing Porsche compete in this highly interesting and forward thinking series. It’s nice to see Porsche back in open wheel competition, and with electric power so important to the company, it is a no-brainer. I’m always happy to cheer for Neel Jani.

And it’s always nice to see a race car running laps in bare carbon. This thing looks like the future!

Quotes on the test day
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President Porsche Motorsport): “The newly developed Porsche powertrain for Formula E completed its baptism of fire. It is an important day for everyone involved in this project. Many thanks to everyone who has poured their heart and soul into the construction of the powertrain and car in recent months and made this successful rollout possible. We still have a lot of work to do on the road to our works entry in Formula E, but an important initial step has been taken. Now we will be fully focussed as we continue to work on familiarising ourselves with the particular challenges of Formula E.”

Neel Jani (Porsche works driver): “I am very proud to have been behind the wheel the first time our Formula E racing car was driven. Being allowed to drive the rollout is not only a great honour, it is also very exciting. We’re breaking new ground. It was a fantastic feeling for me. Everyone in the team feels it: The project is really gaining momentum now. We didn’t push it to the limit during the rollout, but the powertrain and the car made a very good first impression overall. I can’t wait to get back to testing.”

Amiel Lindesay (Team Manager): “We know that we will face very tough competition in Formula E, which to some extent has more experience than us. This makes it even more important for us that we have taken the next step in development with the rollout. With each additional test, we will gain new insights and optimise the performance of the car.”

Malte Huneke (Technical Project Leader): “The development of a Formula E car fully streamlined for efficiency and lightweight construction is a great challenge for our team of engineers. Seeing the car in action for the first time gave us goose bumps. Compared with production development, the demands in terms of efficiency and weight of the powertrain in Formula E are on a very different level. Now we will approach the limit one step at a time. This will be essential to make it in Formula E.”


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High Altitude Training In Lesotho With The New Macan

I respect a deeply focused tool. The Land Rover Defender remained very true to its original intent right through the end of production. Wranglers only began attempting to be comfortable relatively recently. If the sort of sport you prefer frequently takes you miles off the beaten path, having the correct vehicle is key. But with that comes compromise in the form of wind noise, vibration, poor on-road performance, and often poor fuel economy. To Porsche, however, it is important to both make a sports car among SUVs, and an SUV capable of dealing with offroad obstacles. To ensure that, even the mid-size Macan needs to survive some serious abuse. Enter Lesotho.

Jeep seems to have the Rubicon trail and snowy Northern Michigan on lockdown. Porsche is free to roam the globe in search of arduous testing grounds. For the Macan to prove itself Porsche needed not just rough terrain, but heat and altitude. For that, few places are better than South Africa and the world’s only landlocked enclaved nation; Lesotho. With altitudes in excess of 3,400m (~11k feet) and temperatures in the 80 degree Fahrenheit range at altitude, few places are more torturous for an offroader. The whole nation is only about the size of Massachusetts, but given the terrain it certainly doesn’t sound like a day trip.

While virtually no Macans in private hands will ever see this sort of abuse, it’s heartening to know that they can take it. Like the Cayenne before it, the Macan needs to be able to perform both on-road and off. Hopefully Porsche will take this to heart, and use the Macan to add to their motorsports legacy. They have proven willing to do this before, notably when the Cayenne entered and won the grueling Transsyberia rally.

It’s an impressive mid-size SUV, both for its speed and for its comfort. Durability is a brand hallmark. Porsche has shown that the immensely popular Macan is tough enough to survive mountainous Lesotho. Now it just needs to win something.


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Porsche 992 Turbo breaks cover

Total 911’s spies have captured a 992 Turbo prototype in testing, showing for the first time its key visual cues over the rest of the incoming 992 range. Regular readers will note previous mules seen in public have been based on the current 991 car with tacked-on fenders, however this latest signing heralds a major development in pre-production of the car.

As you can see, the prototype in our pictures features a slightly different front end, with the rear end featuring a full-width light as seen on the rest of the 992 prototype range. The car sports even wider fenders, taking the car to nearly two meters in width for the first time, squared-off quad exhausts and, for the first time, a fixed rear wing. Side air-intakes feeding air to the intercoolers remain, though their shape has been disguised under a camouflage wrap deployed by Porsche. Power will once again come form a twin turbocharged flat six with an expected maximum power output of around 600hp.

The new-generation Porsche 992 Carrera is set to be formally revealed at the Paris motorshow in October, with its bigger Turbo brother due for launch in the first quarter of 2019.


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Is Porsche Testing A 911 GT2 RS Hybrid Hypercar?

At the end of October, Porsche conducted a private test at the Monza circuit in Italy. This isn’t exactly newsworthy in and of itself, as things are likely getting a bit cold in Germany this time of year, so they’ve moved testing southward closer to the Equator. Porsche took over the famed Italian circuit to put a few cars through their paces, and lucky for us Matt, from the YouTube channel MattyB727 – Car Videos, was there to capture one of them on video with excellent sound and vision. So, here’s the million dollar question, just what the type of Porsche is it?

As the video title suggests, perhaps this is some type of new Porsche racing car. A GT2 Cup to replace the current GT3 Cup? Maybe they’re testing a turbocharged engine for next year’s 911 RSR to run at Le Mans? We are a bit skeptical of that theory, given that Porsche in question seems to have functioning LED daytime running lights and turn signals. We’ve now watched this video a few dozen times to try to piece together what exactly we’re looking at here. We can’t smell it or touch it or taste it, so we’ll have to use our two remaining senses to figure out this conundrum.

What does it look like?

This one is pretty straight forward. It clearly looks like a more aerodynamically aggressive version of Porsche’s current 991 GT2 RS that launched not long ago. There is a GT3 Cup-style rear wing with taller uprights, a pair of cannards on either side of an otherwise very GT2 RS looking front bumper. That bumper looks to have a tow strap tucked into it, and some kind of sensor apparatus in the middle, but otherwise as normal. The rear bumper looks to be standard GT2 RS, though with the camouflage livery it’s difficult to tell for sure. The front lid has what appear to be some interesting non-standard vents. These vents could simply be related to some testing procedures and ease of access or camouflage to make this kind of guessing game harder. However, we’re inclined to believe they’re used for serious cooling purposes.

Could this car be some kind of track-day special model that Porsche is bringing out based on the GT2 RS? The aero, the integrated rear roll bar, smaller diameter wheels with taller sidewall racing slicks, and what appears to be a hookup for an air-jack on the passenger side rear quarter window would seem to point to such a thing. That said, street car manufacturers are getting crazier with what they’ll allow to be sold in dealerships. Take for example, the Dodge Viper ACR with a splitter that was too large to be used on the road so it was delivered in the trunk, or their Challenger Demon that can be ordered with non-DOT drag slicks.

Based on the way the driver is bossing this car into the kerbs as much as he can, occasionally getting a few wheels airborne, we’re almost positive that Porsche is conducting suspension sturdiness tests, particularly on the front wheels. Is Porsche building the ultimate street-legal track-day car? If so, what are all of those cooling vents for in the front trunk? Let your ears tell you.

What does it sound like?

First thing first, this Porsche sounds almost exactly like a stock GT2 RS exhaust note, and the gear changes certainly seem to indicate a standard PDK gearbox. There’s something else there, though, something more than turbo sound. Some viewers have indicated that they hear a boost bleed off or the whine of a straight-cut gearbox, but our theory is that you’re actually hearing the sound of a hybrid system’s regenerative braking. You can hear a distinct whoosh/whistle sound as the Porsche comes down from speed at the 0:27, 0:58, 1:33, etc. If this was turbo spool or gear whine, it should change in pitch with each downshift, but it’s a very linear noise that appears to be connected to wheel speed. At the 1:19 and 2:50 marks, you can hear another interesting sound. It is possible that this is the whistle of a spooling turbo, but it sounds to us like there might be some electric energy deployment happening there as well. Porsche has been working with power-adding hybrids for over a decade now, and it’s about time they should be thinking about applying it to a 911-based street car.

Why would they do such a thing?

While some companies, like Toyota and Chevrolet for example, use batteries and electric motors to increase the efficiency of their final output, Porsche has a history of using those same methods to add lots of power. Would the 918 Spyder have been as fast at the Nurburgring, or as exciting, if it didn’t have the instant-on torque delivery that electric motors provide? Is the Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid a faster car than its non-hybrid brother? By putting their hybrids at the top of the performance ladder, Porsche has eased the mind of the Porsche Purist, convincing them that hybrids aren’t such a bad thing. They’ve shied away from a hybrid 911 because people could be up in arms about their iconic sports car sharing technology with a Prius. That disgust might be assuaged if such a hybrid 911 were able to crack off a lap of the Nurburgring in under 6 minutes and 40 seconds, right?

Obviously this is all speculation, but how awesome would it be? We know that the 991 is on its way out, and Porsche is known to end a model line with something wild and crazy. Wouldn’t a 900-horsepower all-wheel-drive track-special hybrid mega-911 be just the kind of car to send off the 991 in style? We know that Porsche is preparing to show off something seriously awesome at the LA Auto Show at the end of the month, would it be too much of a stretch to hope it’s this?

Now, about that screaming naturally aspirated Cayman that shows up at 2:33. We’ve heard rumors of a new GT4 in the works with a 4-liter GT3-based engine. Could this be it? Could it also break cover at LAAS? Your guess is as good as ours.

The post Is Porsche Testing A 911 GT2 RS Hybrid Hypercar? appeared first on FLATSIXES.


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