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FIA WEC – Le Mans winner Porsche arrives in the US as the championship leader

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc LiebPorsche heads into the second half of the season as the World Championship leader with its two 919 Hybrids. On September 19 the fifth of eight rounds of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship will be held in Austin, Texas (USA). The Circuit of the Americas (COTA), also a favourite with Formula One, is a spectacular mix of corners, significant elevation changes and fast sections. It will be even more exciting by the time the six-hour race starts: The green flag will be waved at 5:00 pm local time, with sun set at 7:31 pm shrouding Texas in darkness.

In the field of 31 cars, Porsche is entering two of its Porsche 919 Hybrids in the top LMP1 category (class one Le Mans Prototypes). The number 17 car will be shared by Timo Bernhard (DE), Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AU). The number 18 sister car will be in the hands of Romain Dumas (FR), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb (DE). The Porsche 919 Hybrid is a research laboratory for future sports car technology. It is powered by a downsizing two-litre V4-cylinder turbo charged petrol engine and an electric engine, which is fed by two energy recovery systems (brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy). This unique and ground-breaking power train temporarily turns the 919 into a four-wheel drive car with a system performance of around 1,000 hp.

Since the 919’s debut back in 2014, it has won three races: Interlagos 2014, Le Mans and Nürburgring 2015. The car has entered 12 races in total and started from pole position eight times. To date in 2015, a 919 has been on pole for every race. Porsche leads the manufacturers’ World Championship, with 184 points ahead of Audi on 151 and followed by Toyota on 89. In the drivers’ standings, Bernhard/Hartley/Webber improved to second place, with the gap to the leading Audi trio reduced to 17 points. With a tally of just two points less, teammates Dumas/Jani/Lieb are in third place.

After the victorious Le Mans 24-Hours entry, the Porsche 919 Hybrid has an entirely new aerodynamic package for higher downforce on the shorter tracks in the second half of the season. The comprehensive update proved itself at the Nürburgring when Bernhard/Hartley/Webber achieved their first ever WEC win on August 30.

Last year in Austin, the two Porsche 919s started from P2 and P3. Dumas/Jani/Lieb led the race until a technical problem with a loss of power in the final hour caused them to drop back to finish fourth. Bernhard/Hartley/Webber came fifth after losing some positions in a sudden downpour, which started 100 minutes into the race and caused an interruption of 45 minutes.

Quotes before the race: Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1: “The second half of the World Championship with the races in Austin, Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain is all about fighting for the titles. Porsche is focusing on the manufacturers’ crown, but the drivers’ ranking isn’t any less exciting. Our driver crews are 19 and 17 points behind the currently leading trio from Audi, which means they are both within reach of the top. In 2014 COTA was the season’s most difficult track for us. This year we hope to be able to fight for another race win there. But we don’t expect to be dominant like we were at the Nürburgring.”

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark WebberAndreas Seidl, Team Principal: “We have a great deal of respect ahead of the remaining rounds. Situations can change quickly, and you should never forget that first of all you have to survive the race distances. You can always have incidents. Regarding knowledge of the track, as well as the logistical challenge of flying 32 tons of air freight around the world, we are certainly benefiting in 2015 from what we learnt in our debut season.” Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 17: Timo Bernhard (34, Germany): “Last year’s race was a turbulent one. I had a massive aquaplaning experience. Due to its variety of features, COTA isn’t an easy one when it comes to set-up work. Especially challenging are the last three corners of the Esses in sector one, because they break the rhythm. This year we have a package that we are able to win with, and we have to maximise our potential to gain ground on the drivers’ championship. I’m looking forward to it!”

Brendon Hartley (25, New Zealand): “I love the city of Austin and love the track even more. After a second at Le Mans and a win at the Nürburgring, we go to Austin with some momentum and some confidence. We are very much in the hunt for the World Championship, and our goal is to stand on the top step of the podium in Austin. Audi was very strong in Austin last year, so we are expecting a close race.”

Mark Webber (39, Australia): “I enjoyed racing on that track in Formula One and I also enjoyed it with the 919. We had very changeable and challenging weather conditions and learnt a lot in the high temperatures, which is always an extra challenge for the cars and drivers. COTA is very demanding and has a lot of different ranges in speed – long straights, super slow corners and a lot of elevation changes. I like the approach to turn one, which is quite spectacular up a steep hill into a blind apex. We had an amazing reception from the American fans last year, who love both endurance racing and Porsche. The atmosphere was fantastic.”

Drivers Porsche 919 Hybrid no. 18 Romain Dumas (37, France): “After our number 18 crew had some bad luck technically in Le Mans and at the Nürburgring, I just wish for a smooth race in Austin. Our car is a lot better than last year’s. Therefore, sector one will be even more fun. This is my favourite part of the track, as it has really great corners.”

Porsche Team: Neel JaniNeel Jani (31, Switzerland): “In 2014 we had a wild race in Austin. After the tremendous rain I was on intermediate tyres, which was the perfect choice. I had a comfortable lead, but then a technical problem occurred and we failed to win. I always enjoy going to America and Austin is a great track. With our new aero package we will be stronger than in 2014. The heat that is expected and the fast corners will for sure make it a very physical race.”

Marc Lieb (35, Germany): “The weather can provide some surprises at this time of the year. In 2014 we did well in qualifying, but we have a score to settle with the race. The track is outstanding, and the fast parts in sector one will be even more fun with the higher grip level provided by our new car. Driving at night is super cool. The surroundings are a lot darker than in Le Mans. I like it when races have a unique character to them.”

Fact and figures: • A lap of the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), which is only three years old, is 5.513 km long. • WEC rules call for averaging the fastest laps of two drivers in qualifying. • In normal racing mode (without any safety car periods), the Porsche 919 Hybrid must refuel every 30 laps. • Refuelling and changing tyres may only be made sequentially, not at the same time. Only two mechanics may work simultaneously when changing tyres. That takes a lot longer than in Formula One, for example. • Drivers are normally only changed when new tyres are needed. • The amount of energy the Porsche 919 Hybrid can use per lap is limited. In Texas it may consume 5.02 megajoule electricity and 1.526 kilogram fuel. • The Porsche 919 Hybrid has a power system that produces around 1,000 hp. Over 500 hp come from the two-litre V4 turbo petrol engine, while the e-machine, fed by the recovery systems, delivers more than 400 hp. • The Porsche 919 Hybrid accelerates from 0-100 km/h within 2 seconds and takes 4.5 seconds to go from 0-200 km/h. • On the fastest part of COTA the 919 will reach ca. 280 km/h. • Due to the aerodynamic downforce, and, therefore, the increased load on the tyres, the contact patch of the Michelin tyres can double. Normally they have a width of 310 mm. • Four types of tyres can be used: slick tyres for dry conditions, a hybrid tyre (no profile either but softer cover) for mixed conditions, wets and full wets for heavy or extreme rain. The full wet tyre manages to push up to 120 litres of water per second out of the way. • The Porsche 919 Hybrid was designed and built at the Porsche AG Development Centre in Weissach. 230 team members work there.

TV: Eurosport is covering the entire race action and the podium ceremony live from the start at 17:00 to 23:15 hrs local time (Sunday 00:00 to 6:15 hrs CEST). LMP1 Schedule: Thursday, September 17 14:45 – 16:15 free practice 17:45 – 18:00 FIA WEC press conference 20:00 – 21:30 free practice Friday, September 18 10:30 – 11:30 free practice 13:30 – 14:00 Porsche LMP1 Meet the Team for media 18:15 – 18:35 qualifying LMP1 & LMP2 18:45 – 19:00 FIA WEC press conference 19:15 – 19:30 FIA WEC drivers’ “mixed zone” in the foyer of the media centre Saturday, September 19 17:00 – 23:00 race 23:15 – 23:30 FIA WEC press conference Press release Porsche]]>

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