This hybrid is unlike anything you�ve previously heard called a hybrid. Rather than the bulky battery pack associated with roadgoing hybrids, Porsche�s racing hybrid system utilizes an electrical flywheel generator to capture and store kinetic energy. Sitting where the passenger would be in a road car, the flywheel generator is charged by a pair of 60-kW motors in the front wheels and stores its energy mechanically as it spins up to 40,000 rpm. When fully charged, the generator can send bursts of 161 hp back to the front-wheel motors for periods of up to six to eight seconds. The rear wheels have full-time, exclusive access to the naturally aspirated flat-six's 480 hp.
This system is essentially the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology that generated so much controversy in Formula 1 racing last year�it is similar, but not, as is being widely reported, the same as that developed by the Williams F1 team. Porsche�s system was developed in conjunction with Williams, but considering that the shroud of secrecy in F1 would seem impenetrable to even Dan Brown, the exact differences are hard to come by. We�ll see if we can�t shake loose a little more information as the car�s debut in Geneva nears.
(BY JARED GALL)