Feb 12 2010 Maurice Glover
Race is on as Porsche tests new hybrid
BRITISH racing know-how is all set to put a new form of petrol-electric power into a road-going car ... but the new system will be race-tested first by one of the most famous names in motor sport.
The backroom skills employed by the Williams F1 team have played a key role in a dramatic new Porsche racing car that will be put through its paces on Europe's toughest circuit after making its debut at the Geneva motor show.
Competing in the Nurburgring 24-hour event in May is part of a rigorous programme to test the unique powertrain of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid before the system is adopted for use in a next-generation production model.
The car features an electrical front axle drive with two electric motors supplementing a four-litre 'boxer' engine at the rear to provide four wheel drive.
Instead of drawing electricity from batteries, the motors use power from an electric flywheel generator. Mounted inside the cockpit beside the driver, it spins at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm and stores energy mechanically.
The flywheel generator is also charged whenever the driver applies the brakes, with the motors reversing their function on the front axle and acting themselves as generators.
Williams originally developed the storage system for use in Formula One but is now focused on road vehicle applications.
"We are delighted to see our technology being adopted by one of the world's leading engineering companies and most prestigious automotive manufacturers in one of their racing cars. Partnering with Porsche on this project has been a very positive experience and we are grateful to them for choosing to work with us," says Williams Hybrid Power managing director Ian Foley.
Adds chairman Alex Burns: "This is a milestone for both Williams Hybrid Power and Williams F1. Together we have worked to bring this technology forward to the point where it can be tested in a racing car and deployed in a road car.
"We hope that this will be just the start of the evolution of hybrid systems developed for Formula One moving across to applications where they can contribute to cleaner and more powerful vehicles."