Early on Tuesday September 27 Londoners awoke to the Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid LMP1 driving the London streets.
We have all dreamed about driving London’s sleepy iconic streets in a racing car and perhaps some of you have even enjoyed a spirited drive in the dead of night, but this morning Porsche factory race driver Mark Webber got to live out our dreams. Driving through the city from Park Lane to the South Bank of the River Thames, Mark took in all the landmarks: Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square to arrive at the London Eye.
With the announcement of BMW joining WEC in 2018 perhaps the series will finally start to grab the imagination of the fans as Formula 1 continues to disappoint. Porsche are no strangers to endurance racing and the bloodline to their road cars is what has helped make their cars so exciting to drive. Can you imagine Bernie allowing this to happen without making millions out of it for himself?
Racing has always been a proving ground for technology that will translate down into future road cars and thankfully unlike Formula 1 the FIA WEC rule book encourages ingenuity and has helped to push hybrid development to new heights. For example, if the 919 Hybrid was a power plant, the re-generated electrical energy over the duration of the Le Mans 24 Hours race could power a typical family house for three months. That’s impressive!
Also enjoying a dawn blast was the new Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid which pairs a 462 hp V6 twin- turbocharged combustion engine with a 136 hp electric motor. The electric motor in the Panamera is supplied with power via a liquid- cooled 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery. This is charged by energy recuperation and a plug-in cable that will charge the car in under 4 hours. The Panamera can also drive up to 31 miles in pure electric mode and reach a maximum speed of 87 mph.
London is no stranger to motorsport stunts, 12 years ago the city was closed down as Formula 1 came to town with a high speed demonstration. On that day thousands of people came out to see the spectacle. This morning just a handful of confused commuters, tired revellers and taxi drivers saw the spectacle of a genuine Le Mans car driving around London.
Hopefully the support for endurance racing will continue to grow, maybe the sport needs more sprint races mixed in to the calendar to make it more exciting TV viewing. With just three races left to go Porsche lead the championship and three drivers are tied for 1st place. Formula 1, you have been warned!