So we've had the weekend to think about it. And Timo Bernhard's history-making lap still seems ridiculous. Covering 12.94 miles of any road in 5 minutes and 19.55 seconds is faintly absurd; to do it on the Nordschleife, at an average speed of 145.3mph, is otherworldly.
Of course, this is Porsche we're talking about, with an LMP1 car to boot, so nothing was left to chance. According to Top Gear, the team had been on the simulators for months, and considered a 5 minute 30 second lap 'within pretty easy reach' - which feels like standing on the cliffs of Dover in your swimming trunks and saying France shouldn't be too hard to get to.
But the next day, on a warm-up - bang - 5 minutes 31 seconds. New tyres on, proper go - 5 minutes 24 seconds. More new tyres, Timo reconsiders his line: 5 minutes 19.545 results. "I didn't want to arrive and say 'that's the lap time I'm targeting'," he told TG afterwards, "I just wanted a car I was comfortable with and which I could generate speed in. Then in the end whatever lap time comes out, comes out.
Now, the Monday afternoon after the Friday morning. The video speaks, naturally, volumes. As does that gap to Stefan Bellof's 35-year-old record - 51.58 seconds, enough hypothetical time for Bernhard to have climbed from the car and read the front page of that day's Bild before the 620hp '83 Rothmans 956 hoved into view.
But there is plenty of room now for everyone else to speak too. Autocar reports Christian Horner having already done so: "I'm not sure a Formula 1 car could actually do it," having been asked the obvious question, "but I think that the Valkyrie -- certainly the track version of the Valkyrie -- could be a contender," he said.
Whatever you make of Aston Martin's forthcoming £2.5m hypercar, designed by demigod Adrian Newey and built in partnership with Red Bull, the prospect is a tantalising one. The 1,000hp-plus model is said to possess materials and components beyond even the reach of LMP1, and will reputedly deliver up to 1,816kg of downforce.
Then there is the Mercedes-AMG Project One, and others beyond. The flood gates, one suspects, having been closed firmly shut for the best part of four decades, are now wide open; the gauntlet flung to the floor by Timo and a race team with nothing much else to do. So 5 minutes 19.55 seconds is where we're at, and it's extraordinary. But in 12 months time? Your guess is as good as ours - although that five minute barrier seems close enough to easily become a thing...
Original story, 29-07-18
We thought this might happen. Porsche has spent the last few months parading its Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid around Europe, apparently on some sort of extended victory lap. It hasn't done it quietly either. Oh no. Instead it reached into the former LMP1 car, and gleefully stripped out all the power-sapping elements stipulated by the WEC to create the 919 Evo - a Frankenstein's monster of a machine that knocked almost a second off Lewis Hamilton's qualifying lap at Spa last year.
Now it seems like that was just a warm-up for the main event. Porsche likely had Stefan Bellof's 35 year-0ld Nordschleife record in mind from the start. After all, there is no timed lap anywhere in the world held in the same regard as one recorded at the Nurburgring, and the 6mins 11.13secs set by the Porsche 956 in 1983 has since passed into legend. What better way to top off the 919's 'Tribute Tour' than smashing its ancestors benchmark?
And 'smashing' is the right word. The 6mins 11.13secs it took Bellof to lap the Green Hell was (and is) an outrageous time, even taking into account the savagery of the 956. Now Porsche - or more specifically Timo Bernhard - has knocked the best part of a minute off the record, managing 5mins 19.546secs after a first run of 5mins 24.375secs. For reference, it took Kenny Brack 6mins 43.22secs to get a 1000hp McLaren P1 round in May 2017. The manufacturer has been hardly any slower in uploading the onboard footage to YouTube - and if the fact of that incredible time hasn't sunk in yet, prepare yourself for something special.
How did Porsche pull it off? Well, huge credit must obviously go to Timo (who presumably finds it hard to walk with two watermelons in his boxer shorts) but it's hard not to return the spotlight to what is plainly a remarkable car. Without the mandated fuel flow restrictor, the Evo's V4 engine develops 720hp, with its similarily unshackled electric motors delivering an additional 440hp. It has shed 39kg in weight, meaning it now weighs 849kg - about the same as a Lotus Elise. Oh and it produces 53 per cent more downforce than the LMP1 version, together with a 66 per cent increase in aerodynamic efficiency. Even before today, the Evo could credibly be called one of the fastest motor cars ever made. Now Porsche can claim to have proved it.