2020 will be the last year a LMP1 car will be raced in anger at LeMans. The 2020 season will mark the introduction of the new Hypercar class, and the last season the sounds of a LMP1 car will truly race in anger. It is an end of an era.
LMP1 was created in 1992 in the power void resulting from the killing of Group C. While rules kept the LMP1 cars slower then the GT1-class cars of the era, the GT1 class would also become to expensive and LMP1 would become the fastest class at LeMans.
The Reigning Champion
In 2011, Audi introduced a brand new chassis to replace its successful R15 TDI. While the outgoing Audi R15 TDI was powered by a hulking 5.5L V10 Turbodiesel, the incoming Audi R18 TDI Ultra would be powered by a 3.6L V6 Turbodiesel.
In its debut LeMans start, a single Audi R18 managed to win despite being outnumbered 3-to-1 with its Peugeot Rivals. And in its own way, 2011 would also be the end of an era. 2011 was the last year of the conventionally powered cars, as in 2012 new hybrid regulations were added.
The Audi R18 in its hybrid E-Tron form would go on to win 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2014, newcomer and sister VAG company Porsche came back to LeMans with the 919 Prototype which would go on to usurp the decade long reign Audi had held over the French circuit, going on to win in 2015, 2016, and 2017 before leaving.
As a result of Dieselgate and skyrocketing costs, Audi would leave in 2016 while Porsche would leave in 2017. Ferdinand Piëch's iron grip on the endurance race was lost amid the catastrophic fallout from Dieselgate.
Despite leaving after the 2017 season, the 2018 season car had been partially developed. In what essentially amounted to be a marketing move celebrating Porsche's 70th Anniversary, the 919's performance capabilities were maxed out as well as aero-changes that would be illegal under essentially any rule book. It was LMP1's swan song.
The 919 EVO Tribute would go on a short lived lap record smashing run. The 919 EVO would set a 1:41.77 at Spa-Francorchamps, 0.783 seconds faster then Lewis Hamilton's record time during the 2018 qualifying session.
This was 12 seconds faster then the standard 919's qualifying time the year before.
However, Spa was ultimately just the shake down. The real test would be the 35 year old Nurburgring lap record set by the late Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956. Of course it was hardly a test, the car was going to smash the record. The test was going to be how much.
Piloted by Timo Bernhard, the car would set a lap record of 5:19.546 close to a minute faster then Bellof's 6:11.13.
With its goal complete, the 919 EVO Tribute was retired. The sun set on LMP1.
A Note from the Author
The 919 continues my affinity for Spark, and is in 1:18 scale. While the car was shipped with a base and a little sign commemorating the Nurburgring Lap Record, the base did not fit in my display case and the small sign wound up breaking which is a bit of a shame.
But the model itself is typical Spark and of phenomenal quality as always. The Audi R18 has been featured over on Kinja, but I will likely be doing another photo shoot with it at some point. Likely when I have an actual photo booth.
All of these pictures were taken with my new Canon T7 Rebel. I'm still learning, so some of the photos are a little janky. I didn't realize that my white balance setting was set incorrectly, which is why a lot of these photos have that blue hue.
I hope you guys enjoyed, and I'll be posting reshoots of cars and some other cars I never got around to featuring.