In a little more than three months, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will return to the Circuit de la Sarthe as automakers compete for one of motorsport’s most coveted accomplishments. Porsche returned to Le Mans last year after a long absence, hoping to fend off Audi’s seemingly unstoppable R18 e-tron, and with some upgrades to the 919 Hybrid, they just might do it.
So what’s new for the Porsche 919 Hybrid for the 2015 racing season? One of the biggest changes is a step up to the 8 megajoule energy class, which means Porsche is putting more stock in the electric side of its hybrid drivetrain than say Audi, which moved up to the 4 megajoule class, which relies more heavily on the 3.7 liter V6 TDI engine.
For Porsche, this means the four-cylinder engine may be limited to just 500 horsepower to the back wheels (compared to more than 550 for the Audi), but the electric motor can kick in an addition 400 ponies for the front tires. For you math wizs, that’s a combined output of up to 900 horsepower, about 60 horses more than the revised Audi R18 e-tron.
Beyond the drivetrain, Porsche has tweaked, upgraded, or outright relaced plenty of chassis and suspension components in a bid to take the 2015 World Endurance Championship for itself. But let’s be honest here, there’s only one race that really counts for anything in the WEC competition, and that’s Le Mans. With Audi just 3 Le Mans wins away from tying Porsche’s record-setting 16 wins at the Circuit de la Sarthe, the pressure is on. Can Porsche finally end Audi’s domination of Le Mans?