Multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans lap time records were shattered this weekend between Audi and Porsche. What does a sub-3:18 lap time look like from inside the car? Here’s an example from Timo Bernhard in the #17 Porsche 919. Whatever waiver on the laws of physics this car received to corner this fast—I want it.
This lap was from dusk, when it can be a little hard to see the scenery whiz by due to the lack of light, but that’s part of what makes it even more spectacular. Nailing a lap this fast with the meh visibility of twilight is the epitome of being on your A-game. Never mind the straights, though, as they don’t last all that long, anyway.
What’s the most impressive of all is the way this car corners, from the unfathomable way it darts through the esses all the way down to the futuristic whir of the car’s hybrid system that gets louder every time the driver brakes.
Do note: Bernhard’s lap here wasn’t even the record Porsche lap. Or a record lap. It came close, but Porsche and Audi’s cars have just gotten so good at lapping Circuit de la Sarthe that dipping below Jackie Oliver’s old in-race Le Mans lap time record of 3:18.4 was no big deal this weekend, especially in qualifying when the circuit was wide open.
Porsche’s qualifying record was with Neel Jani in the #18 car, who edged out Bernhard with an untouchable 3:16.887 lap. Audi, on the other hand, answered back with their own record during the race. Oliver’s record lap was in a Porsche 917LH from 1971, and that just wouldn’t do. Never mind that the track has changed since then to try and slow cars down in several places. Filipe Albuquerque annihilated Oliver’s in-race lap time record with a 3:17.647 in the #9 Audi.
Since no one’s posted the record laps yet, though, this is a good example of what it must be like to travel at ludicrous speed on La Sarthe. This is a course where most of the track is full-throttle, and it shows. Bernhard’s going at an average of around 2.67 miles per minute, which is ridiculous.
Given how LMP1s have been developing in recent years, I don’t think they’ll slow down any time soon. I don’t expect these lap time records to stay as long as Oliver’s did.
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