After a successful 2015 season when it took overall victory in Le Mans and won the constructors’ and drivers’ World Championship titles, Porsche finds itself in the role of the title defenders in 2016.
Accordingly, the two Porsche 919 Hybrids will carry the starting numbers 1 and 2, as confirmed by the Le Mans organisers, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
For Porsche’s third season since the return to the highly sophisticated top category of Le Mans prototypes, the cutting-edge 919 Hybrids have been significantly developed with the basic chassis structure and the powertrain concept remaining the same.
Back in November, Porsche announced the driver line-up that goes back to 2014 would remain unchanged: World Champions Timo Bernhard (Germany, 35), Brendon Hartley (New Zealand, 26) and Mark Webber (Australia, 39) will share the number 1 car.
The number 2 sister car will be in the hands of Romain Dumas (France, 38), Neel Jani (Switzerland, 32) and Marc Lieb (Germany, 35).
By offering exceptional technical freedom, the regulations for Class 1 Le Mans Prototypes (LMP1) place strong demands on engineers.
The hybrid system of the 919 combines downsizing turbo technology with efficient fuel direct injection for the two-litre, four-cylinder combustion engine.
It also uses a lithium-ion battery to store electricity from two separate energy recovery systems – brake energy from the front axle and exhaust energy.
After Formula One, the WEC is the world’s most important racing series on track. In 2016 it will have nine rounds held in nine different countries.
The season’s highlight is the Le Mans 24-hour race in France, where Porsche holds a record of 17 overall victories. The other eight races are six hours long.
The campaign kicks off in Silverstone (UK, April 17) and Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium, May 7). After Le Mans (June 18/19) the German round of the championship is at the Nürburgring (July 24).
New to the calendar is the race in Mexico City (September 3), followed by Austin (Texas, September 17).