After 2 years of being beaten by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche is looking to reverse their fortunes this year. As the motoring spectacle has been delayed due to the global pandemic, and is now being held on the 19th-20th of September, challenges facing the teams and drivers have mounted.
Racing in autumn means there would be less daylight and drivers will have to drive longer in the dark, the cars will have to withstand colder track temperatures and unfriendly weather, conditions which most teams have no experience dealing with.
Porsche GT works team, the most successful team in the history of the sport with 19 wins under their belt seem determined to win this year and for good reason, Porsche has extensive data due to their Le Mans unraveled test which was conducted three years ago.
The test was to drive the distance travelled by the 2016 Porsche 919 Hybrid in the real world, equivalent to 5,233 Km, or for the test, deep inside the Arctic circle to the southernmost tip of Europe in Spain, Tarifa. A non-stop, cross continent endurance test spanning 8 countries in road-going cars in just three and a half days with a group of journalists on the wheels.
The seven Porsches for the test, 718 Boxster S, 718 Cayman S, 911 Turbo S, Macan GTS, Cayenne E-hybrid, Panamera 4S and the 918 Spyder(Additional Cayenne and Macan for film crew) started from the fishing port of Bodo in Norway, about five hours inside the arctic circle. Despite being May, the temperatures were well below freezing as the motorcade weaved through Scandinavia, followed by two buses, which we designated to be sleeping quarters for the journalists and crew, professional drivers took over for the night legs of the journey. The convoy reached Stockholm, switched drivers and continued.
Crossing Denmark on their way to Germany, and whizzing past on the Autobahns which were reminiscent of the famed six kilometer Mulsanne straight of Le Mans where the cars max out their speedometer. Crossing the halfway point in the Netherlands and reaching Belgium by nightfall, the journalists handed over the cars to the drivers and tuck in for another night on the buses.
The highlight of the test is when the drivers get to sprint to their cars in true Le Mans fashion, parked on the pit lane of the 24 hour circuit and cruising off for a lap of the public road converted curcuit in the Porsches, before driving off to Spain, their destination. The convoy stops at the Aragon Motorland where the 919 hybrid is going through its 36 hour endurance run test in preparation before the big event.
The group reached the mediterranean unscathed except one of the buses with a puncture, to Tarifa and to the epic journey’s end. The unprecedented test using production spec vehicles resulted in Porsche gaining insightful information and leading the Porsche LMP1 919 Hybrid to victory in 2017, a feat that they are looking forward to repeating this year on their way to be crowned a record 20 times.
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