Exactly 110 years after Ferdinand Porsche developed the world’s first car with hybrid drive, the Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus, Porsche is once again taking up this visionary drive concept in production-based GT racing: During the Geneva Motor Show, a Porsche 911 GT3 R with innovative hybrid drive is making its debut.
The innovative hybrid technology featured in the car has been developed especially for racing, standing out significantly in its configuration and components from conventional hybrid systems. In this case, electrical front axle drive with two electric motors developing 60 kW each supplements the 480-bhp four-litre flat-six at the rear of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. A further significant point is that instead of the usual batteries in a hybrid road car, an electrical flywheel power generator fitted in the interior next to the driver delivers energy to the electric motors.
The flywheel generator itself is an electric motor with its rotor spinning at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm, storing energy mechanically as rotation energy. The flywheel generator is charged whenever the driver applies the brakes, with the two electric motors reversing their function on the front axle and acting themselves as generators. Then, whenever necessary, that is when accelerating out of a bend or when overtaking, the driver is able to call up extra energy from the charged flywheel generator, the flywheel being slowed down electromagnetically in the generator mode and thus supplying up to 120 kW to the two electric motors at the front from its kinetic energy. This additional power is available to the driver after each charge process for approximately 6 – 8 seconds.
Energy formerly converted – and thus wasted – into heat upon every application of the brakes, is now efficiently converted into additional drive power.
Depending on racing conditions, hybrid drive is used in this case not only for extra power, but also to save fuel. This again increases the efficiency and, accordingly, the performance of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, for example by reducing the weight of the tank or making pitstops less frequently.
After its debut in Geneva the 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be tested in long-distance races on the Nürburgring. The highlight of this test programme will be the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife of Nürburgring on May 15th and 16th. The focus is not on the 911 GT3 R Hybrid winning the race, but rather serving as a spearhead in technology and a “racing laboratory” providing know-how on the subsequent use of hybrid technology in road-going sports cars.
Let’s hope the 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be the first of many new innovations in motorsport during the next few years.