A record that has stood since 1983, when Stefan Bellof set a 6 minutes 11.13 second lap in the fire-breathing Porsche 956, has been absolutely demolished tonight. Porsche's team driver Timo Bernhard was at the wheel of the wild and crazy 919 Hybrid Evo early Friday morning to set an Earth-shattering 5 minutes 19.546 second lap of the track known as the Green Hell. Following on from Porsche's record-setting lap at Spa earlier this spring, the 919 Evo has been to the Nurburgring three times since. First for an exhibition lap honoring that 956 record. Just a few weeks ago, pre-Le Mans, the car was given a few warm up and sighting laps to prepare for this event. Then, this week, Porsche began teasing the idea of an outright lap record run.
Timo Bernhard says he was, himself, a childhood fan of Stefan Bellof and holds the man in high regard. For years, it has been thought impossible that the record would ever fall. For one, because the track is dangerous and difficult to run at those kinds of speeds. For another, because of the greater motorsports world's deference to Bellof as a legendary character. Bellof, just two years after setting that record, died at the wheel in a crash during the 1000 km race at Spa, involved in a crash with Jacky Ickx's works Porsche 962C. Bellof's record stands as the fastest timed lap around the track in competition, as the 919 Hybrid Evo's lap was run on an otherwise empty track. That said, Bellof's time was set on a shorter 12.9-mile version of the circuit for Le Mans Group C cars, while Bernhard's time was set using the full 14.2-mile lap.
While Bernhard's lap wasn't quite the sub-5-minute lap we'd predicted, we look forward to seeing the onboard timing to see whether there could have been a faster lap time earned, if anything was left on the table. In any case, that video is going to be incredible to see, just for the sheer speed the 919 Evo is capable of. Congratulations to Timo and to the whole Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo team for breaking down a 35-year-old barrier.
Edit: It didn't take Porsche long to post the onboard video. Within three hours of breaking the record, Timo Bernhard's in-car footage was released to the public. Volkswagen still hasn't released their onboard from Pikes Peak last weekend.