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24 hours of Le Mans, Interview with Wolfgang Hatz, “Porsche is part of Le Mans, and Le Mans is part of Porsche”

 

24 hours of Le Mans, Interview with Wolfgang Hatz

“Porsche is part of Le Mans, and Le Mans is part of Porsche”

Stuttgart. This coming Sunday on June 1, the entries for what will be the 82nd running of the legendary 24 hours of Le Mans will be testing at the famous track. It is the final test prior to arguably the toughest motor race in the world. Porsche vehicles have been on the starting grid continuously for 63 years, and the German sports car manufacturer is the record holder with 16 overall victories and 103 class victories. The most recent class victory was last year with two 911 RSRs one-two in the GTE Pro category. To date, the last overall victory was 16 years ago, as Porsche has not competed in the top class since 1998. Porsche returns there this year and faces the new FIA-efficiency regulations with the innovative 919 Hybrid, which limits the energy consumption per lap. In parallel to this, the GT team is trying to build on the success of the previous year. A gigantic factory involvement. There are also six private Porsche teams starting the event; the most well known driver and team owner is Patrick Dempsey, racing car driver and American actor. As Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG, Wolfgang Hatz is responsible for the Porsche factory involvement.

Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche Motorsport Night of Champions 2013

Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche Motorsport Night of Champions 2013

Mr Hatz, when and why did Porsche decide to return to the top class of the sports car World Endurance Championship (WEC) and Le Mans?

Wolfgang Hatz: “This was in 2011. We were and still are well positioned in the GT category, but it is time for the brand to re-enter at the elite level. The options for this are easily understandable. There is Formula 1, and there is the WEC with Le Mans. An essential criteria for the decision was the desire to establish the project at Porsche itself, so the expertise would be developed and remain in-house. The World Endurance Championship including Le Mans suits us best, it is a real team sport. This is especially true of the team of drivers. But we also needed to create the infrastructure for this first: new buildings, a team of 230 people, every other one of which is an engineer.”

Did the historical connection to Le Mans also play a role?

Wolfgang Hatz: “Porsche is part of Le Mans, and Le Mans is part of Porsche. They fit together. Nevertheless, no one makes these kind of investments due to nostalgia; they have to pay off in the future. As far as I can remember, there was never a regulation that gave the engineers so much freedom and required so much innovation. The obligation towards producing a hybrid and the efficiency formula represent revolutionary challenges. I am proud that our engineers ventured the furthest of any. Ultimately, Porsche customers will benefit from this.”

Porsche Team: Alexander Hitzinger, Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG), Fritz Enzinger, Leiter LMP1 (r)

Porsche Team: Alexander Hitzinger, Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG), Fritz Enzinger, Leiter LMP1 (r)

Can you explain this in laymen’s terms?

Wolfgang Hatz: “Our combustion engine is the finest and most efficient engine ever developed by Porsche. This compact two litre, four cylinder, turbo engine with direct fuel injection and a performance of over 500 PS drives the rear axle. It is the smallest engine with the least number of cylinders in the top category of the race. Our engineers also combined a fundamentally new exhaust gas energy recovery system with this engine. No one else has that. We store the energy recovered from the otherwise unproductive flow of escaping exhaust gasses in a battery. We store energy, which we generate during braking on the front axle in the same battery. When the driver retrieves energy from this reservoir comprised of the latest type of battery cells, several hundred horsepower drive the front axle. During this phase, the driver has a powerful all-wheel drive at his disposal. Our car is the only one in the field which converts energy that would otherwise simply be wasted and makes it useable, not only when braking, but also when accelerating. This represents an immense potential for future road sports cars.”

Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG)


Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG)

Are the efficiency regulations not to the detriment of racing itself?

Wolfgang Hatz: “Not at all; the races at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps have demonstrated this. The prototypes have plenty of power available; whether this is from the internal combustion engine or electrical does not matter. They must use all of the energy on each lap, otherwise it is a waste. Nothing can be saved here. These endurance races are sprints over incredible distances.”

The World Championships comprises eight races, but the focus is on Le Mans. When would the factory involvement be considered a success?

Wolfgang Hatz: “It would be terrific, if the GT team could build on the success of the previous year. However, that is literally more difficult because we had to add weight in accordance with the regulations. Porsche Team Manthey headed by Hartmut Kristen has extensive experience, which may make the decisive difference at Le Mans. The situation is completely different in the case of the Porsche team headed by Fritz Enzinger in the LMP1 class: We have no experience there at all. 2014 is a year of learning. Not admitting that would mean miscalculating Le Mans. At Spa-Francorchamps, the Porsche 919 Hybrid impressively demonstrated that the necessary speed is there with pole position and the fastest race lap. Our competitors know we are a force to be reckoned with. However, the 919 Hybrid has not yet covered the complete Le Mans distance in racing conditions. In this respect, it would be a success if one LMP1 finishes the event. Succeeding with both would be fabulous.”

Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard (l), Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG)

Porsche Team: Timo Bernhard (l), Wolfgang Hatz (Vorstand Forschung und Entwicklung Porsche AG)

At Silverstone, we saw you emotionally applauding the podium place in the overall standings in the pouring rain. Isn’t that the high demand Porsche imposes on itself?

Wolfgang Hatz: “That was a great moment of joy. But I am not losing sight of reality over this. We were not top-notch at Silverstone. We also benefited from the competition’s problems. But we did complete the first six-hour race with this extremely complex car and a team that has never competed before at a circuit. All the processes, especially under chaotic weather conditions, worked very well for the debut. And everyone worked extremely hard for this. The drivers showed their enormous skills but also a lot of discipline. The podium was a great experience for all of us. And we had a one-two in the GT class. The picture we saw on Sunday in England was terrific.”

Where will you be watching the 24 hour race from?

Wolfgang Hatz: “I will be on duty and will not be a spectator. Of course, I spend most of the time in the pit. I attend every race and was at the tracks for almost all the tests. Mostly, by the way, by the side of Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Executive Board, and that will also be the case on June 14/15. Come, what may.”

Source: Porsche Product and Technology Communication, Motorsport Press

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PORSCHE 918 SPYDER PROTOTYP IS ON THE ROAD

Development of the Porsche super sports car enters next phase

918 Spyder prototypes commence trials

Stuttgart. The Porsche 918 Spyder is on the road: Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, has taken the driving trials of the super sports car of the future a step further with completion of the initial prototypes. The 918 Spyder will go into production at the end of September 2013 as planned, with the first customers receiving their vehicles before 2013 is out.

“What we are doing with the 918 Spyder is redefining driving fun, efficiency and performance,” said Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board Research and Development of Porsche AG.

The prototypes, their camouflage harking back to historical Porsche 917 racing cars, signal the final touches to the 918 Spyder. The focus is on the interplay between the highly sophisticated individual drive components. The combination of combustion engine and two independent electric motors – one on the front axle and one in the drive line, acting on the rear wheels – poses completely new demands on the development of the operating strategies.

“They are therefore a critical component in this vehicle into which we have put all of our expertise and capacity for innovation,” said Wolfgang Hatz.

These operating strategies and the development of the software to go with them are one of Porsche’s core competences. Both of them have a major influence on the extreme driving fun to be had with the 918 Spyder and they make possible a unique combination of minimal fuel consumption and maximum performance. The initial results of the driving trials are in line with the high expectations placed on the 918 Spyder.

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The super sports car is designed as a plug-in hybrid vehicle combining a high-performance combustion engine with cutting-edge electric motors for extraordinary performance: on the one hand, the dynamics of a racing machine boasting more than 770 hp, on the other hand, fuel consumption in the region of three litres per 100 kilometres. Moreover, Porsche is breaking yet more new ground with the technology demonstrator with spectacular solutions such as the full carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) monocoque with unit carrier, fully adaptive aerodynamics, adaptive rear-axle steering and the upward-venting “top pipes” exhaust system. In the process, the 918 Spyder is offering a glimpse of what Porsche Intelligent Performance may be capable of in future.

SOURCE: Porsche AG Media database
Product and Technology Communication
Product Communication

 
 

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Go-ahead for the extension of the new R & D Porsche site in Weissach

Weissach R&D – Picture of site – (l.-r.): Walter Uhl, Chairman of Works Council of Porsche Weissach, Thomas Fritsch, Mayor of Mönsheim, Ursula Kreutel, Mayor of Weissach, Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG, Wolfgang Hatz, Board member in charge of Research and Development of Porsche AG and Uwe Hück, Chairman of the Group Works Council of Porsche AG.

First cut of the spade in Weissach: start of extensive building work at the Development Centre

Stuttgart. With the symbolic first cut of the spade, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, today heralded the start of the extension of its Research and Development Centre in Weissach (Baden-Württemberg).

Research and Development Centre in Weissach (Baden-Württemberg)

The site is being enlarged through the addition of a highly modern design studio, a high-tech wind tunnel and an electronics integration centre. Porsche is investing around 150 million euro in this respect. Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management, welcomed Ursula Kreutel, Mayor of Weissach, Thomas Fritsch, Mayor of Mönsheim, Roland Bernhard, Chief Executive of the Böblingen District, and Karl Röckinger, Chief Executive of the Enz District, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Research and Development Centre in Weissach (Baden-Württemberg)

“The extension of our Development Centre is a good, far-sighted investment in the future of Porsche”, said Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG. “The expansion being made by Porsche in Weissach also represents a clear commitment to Baden-Württemberg as an industrial location.

” Uwe Hück, Chairman of the Group Works Council, added: “These investments which we agreed in July 2010 to safeguard the site – ‘Independence through competitive advantage’ – will not only protect the jobs of our permanent staff, but will actually increase the number of permanent jobs. This will strengthen the independence of Porsche.”

Research and Development Centre in Weissach (Baden-Württemberg)

The new wind tunnel will also enable the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer to cope with technological challenges in vehicle development in future.

“Good aerodynamics make a major contribution towards low fuel consumption and high performance – both of which are important aspects in implementing Porsche Intelligent Performance”, said Wolfgang Hatz, Board member in charge of Research and Development of Porsche AG.

The new electronics integration centre will combine segments which were previously spread over several buildings.

“Our objective is also to continue developing electric and hybrid technology. We are creating the ideal conditions for attaining this objective with our new electronics integration centre”, added Hatz.

“Thanks to Porsche, we have the highest per capita trade tax revenue in the whole of Germany. The town will also profit from the extension of the Development Centre”, said Ursula Kreutel, Mayor of Weissach with confidence. Thomas Fritsch, Mayor of Mönsheim, agreed with his fellow Mayor: “Porsche is a great addition for the surrounding towns. We are therefore now all the more delighted with the extension of the Research Centre.”

Research and Development Centre in Weissach (Baden-Württemberg)

In addition to the extension of the site, Porsche is starting a wide-ranging human resources campaign. In the first six months of 2011, the company recruited well over 100 new engineers. Over 100 new employees will also be appointed by the end of 2011 in order to support the around 3,400 staff currently working in Weissach.

The new offices and the design studio will probably be ready for occupation in summer 2013. The wind tunnel will be completed in the first six months of 2014.

SOURCE: Porsche AG Media Database

Public Relations and Media
Corporate Press
Dirk Erat

 

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