Here’s what it’s like to lap Spa in a Porsche 919 Hybrid

Only a few people will ever get the chance to pilot an FIA World Endurance Championship LMP1-H race car around Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, but thanks to modern technology, the rest of us can least go along for the ride.

This onboard footage was taken from the number 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid at last weekend’s WEC race, with Earl Bamber at the wheel. The lap was recorded during a practice session for the six-hour race held on Saturday, May 6. Bamber and teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley brought the number 2 car home third, after losing time due to a tire puncture.

The race started off well for Porsche, but the German automaker’s fortunes gradually deteriorated. The number 1 919 Hybrid qualified on pole, with drivers Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer achieving a combined lap average of 1:54.097. However, Jani, Lotterer, and Nick Tandy only managed to finish fourth in the race. Porsche blamed the unfortunate timing of two caution periods for erasing the number 1 car’s speed advantage.

Porsche also said that its cars suffered excess tire wear because they raced in their low-downforce Le Mans aerodynamic configuration. The Le Mans setup produces less downforce in order to reduce drag, an important factor on the French course’s long straights.

At Spa, Toyota’s pair of TS050 Hybrids finished first and second. The number 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Kabuki Nakajima, and Anthony Davidson came home first, beating the number 7 car of  Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi by less than two seconds. This marks the second consecutive win for Toyota, after the 2017 WEC season opener at Silverstone.

Toyota is on a mission to win back the WEC title from Porsche, and to finally win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Japanese automaker came close last year, but a glitch caused its lead car to grind to halt with just a few minutes remaining in the race. Will Toyota be more successful this year, or will Porsche add another Le Mans victory to its record 19? We’ll find out June 17, when the green flag drops on the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.


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