Shut. The. Front. Door. Shut down the Internet. Drop everything. And look at this. Porsche just showed off its trio of Le Mans-bound 919 LMP1 race cars, and they finally painted one in the right color. This car is pretty much guaranteed to win. Place all bets on #17. (Oh, and they’ve got black and white cars, too.)
It’s not just that I run a Guards Red 944 in the 24 Hours of LeMons, complete with Salzburg stripes painted in white glitter paint and “917” as a number. No, no. This car’s guaranteed shot at winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans is based on science, reason and fact. (Really. I swear.)
You see, the first time a red Porsche prototype entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it won. It was the stunning Porsche 917 KH (for “Kurzheck,” or short tail) in the red and white Salzburg livery that claimed the first of Porsche’s sixteen overall wins in 1970.
Hans Hermann and Richard Attwood piloted that original 917 KH to victory in 1970, but now it’s Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley’s turn to put a red Porsche atop the Le Mans podium. The car will run as number 17, because of course.
It’s going to happen, guys. Not because the drivers are more special than everyone else or the other teams did anything to anger the magical gremlins of endurance racing.
Nope, It’s a red Porsche at Le Mans. That’s why it must win.
One of their LMP1 competitors this year also painted their car the right color, and approves:
Preach, Nissan. Preach.
Porsche unveiled their trio of 919s today at the World Endurance Championship Prologue at Circuit Paul Ricard in France today. The WEC Prologue marks the start of the season, with the first official pre-season tests. Here, manufacturers can see how they stack up against each other.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans captured Porsche’s unveiling of its three 2015 LMP1-class prototypes on video:
In addition to their standard white car and the red car (which must win), Porsche revealed their black number 18 car. Number 18 is also a tribute livery to another Porsche, but this one commemorates the lovely 918 Spyder hypercar. Like the 919, the 918 is a hybrid, and the 918 holds the distinction of setting a record time for a production street car in 2013 on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. (Cue James Ma—ah, wait, that’s been cancelled. Never mind.)
Granted, it’s not red, and it’s not a clever nod to history that makes endurance racing geeks weak in the knees and a bit dribble-mouthed and incoherent. That being said, the application of a black background to their modern “Porsche Intelligent Performance” wordmark theme makes it look like an angry eight-eyed zebra. That’s pretty rad in its own right.
Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas will drive number 18. Lieb, of course, was responsible for that 918 Spyder record lap, making this car extra special for him.
The third car, number 19, will run the standard livery that Porsche ran throughout 2014 for their return to Le Mans. This is the car Earl Bamber, Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy will race.
Like Audi, Porsche bumped up their LMP1 prototype’s hybrid power for 2015. According to Autosport, the car moved up from six megajoules to eight megajoules using a beefed-up version of last year’s hybrid system. The car retrieves front-axle kinetic energy and recuperates thermodynamic energy from exhaust gas to power its hybrid system, just like last year’s 919. The new 8MJ hybrid system outputs up to 400 hp. A watercooled lithium-ion battery system keeps this stored energy until the car needs it.
Likewise, the 2015 Porsche 919 retains its 2.0-liter V4 turbo gas-powered engine, good for over 500 hp in its own right. That V4 turbo powers the rear wheels, while that massive electric motor feeds the front wheels. On top of everything, the car has shed a bit of weight, added rigidity and improved its aerodynamics, just as any good evolution of an existing race car would. Progress!
It took Porsche a year after their introduction of the 917 to grab that coveted overall win with the Salzburg 917 KH. It’s been a year since their return. The red number 17 car must win. It must. Because...because reasons.
Photo credits: Porsche
Stef Schrader is by far the most unashamedly biased person in the history of the Internet who could have written about a red Porsche prototype. Send more photos of red Porsches (or other stuff about sweet race cars) to firstname.lastname@example.org.