Porsche has payed homage to its past while pointing towards the future with its 918 RSR ‘race lab' showcar unveiled at the Detroit Motorshow.
The two-seater, mid-engine coupe revealed at the show carries the same number 22 that the Martini Racing Team Porsche 917K of Austrian Dr. Helmut Marko and Dutchman Gijs van Lennep used to win the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The legendary 917 model took Porsche's first outright wins at Le Mans in 1970 and 71, with the latter race setting a distance record that was not surpassed for 39 years.
The hybrid 918 RSR underlines Porsche's desire to compete in motorsport with ‘green' technology.
While a 420 kW direct-injection V8 engine powers the real wheels of the 918, a Kinetic Energy Recovery System captures energy from the car's front brakes, which is then delivered to electric motors attached to the front wheels.
The KERS uses a flywheel to store the energy, rather than batteries as seen in Formula One.
The flywheel reportedly spins at up to 36,000rpm, and sits to the right of the driver in place of a front passenger seat.
In a media statement, Porsche describe the 918 as having “race track intent,” adding that:
“Porsche is now elevating this motor racing hybrid concept to a higher level where sustainable efficiency can be proven under intensive racing conditions before lessons learned can be transferred to regular production cars.”
Porsche, through the Volkswagen Group, are reportedly interested in returning to Formula One in 2013 (CLICK HERE for previous story), when new regulations will allow a greater use of hybrid technologies (CLICK HERE for previous story)
While top-level GT racing does not currently cater for hybrids, the Stuttgart company could develop a hybrid prototype sportscar for Le Mans – but is unlikely to wish to compete against the TDI Diesel technology of sister-company Audi.
See below for Porsche's official video explaining the 918 RSR