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Porsche 918 Spyder sets Nürburgring lap record

By Ben Pulman

Motor Industry

10 September 2013 12:40

The new Porsche 918 Spyder has lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 6min 57sec, a time that’s 14 seconds faster than the existing 'Ring record. Such a quick lap was only possible because of the 918 Spyder’s hybrid powertrain, says Porsche, and the new Nürburgring record is claimed to prove the potential its new supercar.

Who is the new Nürburgring lap record holder in the Porsche 918 Spyder?

Porsche had two 918 Spyders at the Nürburgring for record attempt, and former rally champion Walter Röhrl, Porsche test driver Timo Kluck and Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb on hand to set the times. Apparently all three drivers posted sub-7min laps, but ultimately it was Lieb who set the record 6:57 time at an average speed of 112mph. ‘We promised a great deal with the 918 Spyder, namely to redefine driving pleasure, efficiency and performance,’ said Porsche R&D boss Wolfgang Hatz. ‘We have kept our word.’

Porsche claims that the Nürburgring record demonstrates the ‘enormous potential that lies in Porsche's pioneering plug-in hybrid concept’ but until we’ve driven LaFerrari and the McLaren P1 too, we won’t actually know which of the three new supercars is the most fun and exciting. And that, we think, is more important than lap times.

Remind me, why is the Porsche 918 Spyder so fast?

The 918 Spyder is powered by a 4.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 that revs to 9150rpm and produces 599bhp. But it’s also boosted by two electric motors, one for each axle, which brings the total outputs of this Porsche supercar to 875bhp and 944lb ft. The chassis and body are made from carbonfibre, there’s agility enhancing rear-wheel steering, adaptive dampers and adaptive aerodynamics, and torque vectoring thanks to the two e-motors. The 918 Spyder hits 62mph in 2.8 seconds and the top speed is 214mph.

‘The radical hybridisation of the 918 Spyder from the very outset is what made this lap record possible,’ explained Dr. Frank Walliser, head of the 918 Spyder project. ‘The lap time on the Nordschleife is and remains the toughest measure of a super sports car.’

Both 918 Spyders at the ‘Ring were fitted with the optional Weissach Package (which includes magnesium wheels, carbonfibre aero aids, six-point race harnesses, and a lightweight wrap for the bodywork instead of paint) and Porsche also points out that the time were set using the standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, rather than any trick slicks. The lap time has been independently verified too, so there can be no claims of foul play. Don't believe us? Watch it below...

Is the Porsche 918 Spyder the fastest ever road car to lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife?

Sort of. Road-going versions of the Radical SR8 have previously dipped below the seven-minute mark, and a SR8 LM driven by Michael Vergers in 2009 went round the ‘Ring in 6:48. But the wider automotive industry prefers to only recognise the times set by vehicles which meet full type-approval. The Radical needs single-vehicle approval to be road legal, so even though the SR8 LM was driven out from the UK for the record, and used the same tyres for the record as well as the journey, Porsche and other manufacturers choose to overlook the Radical’s lap.

With that in mind, the previous benchmarks have been the Gumpert Apollo Sport (7:11.57), the Dodge Viper ACR (7:12.13) and the Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package (7:14.64) – and which the 918 Spyder has now blitzed. But with Nissan readying a Nismo-tuned version of the GT-R, and both the McLaren and Ferrari claiming their P1 and LaFerrari can dip below seven minutes, will the new ‘Ring record stand for long?

Click here for our first official pictures story on the new Porsche 918 Spyder

Click here for our first drive of the Porsche 918 Spyder prototype