Porsche perfect


Porsche achieved a hat-trick of wins at Le Mans with its 919 Hybrids in 2017, but it wasn’t a straightforward race. Ixo has just released Porsche’s pair of entries in both 1/18 and 1/43 scales

Ixo Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours #1 – Jani/Tandy/Lotterer
SCALE: 1/18
PRICE: £107.99
REF: SP919-1815

Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours #2 – Bernard/Hartley/Bamber
SCALE: 1/18
PRICE: £107.99
REF: SP919-1816

Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours #1 – Jani/Tandy/Lotterer
SCALE: 1/43
PRICE: £47.99
REF: SP919-4315

Porsche 919 Hybrid – 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours #2 – Bernard/Hartley/Bamber
SCALE: 1/43
PRICE: £47.99
REF: SP919-4316

Having won the Le Mans 24 Hours in both 2015 and 2016, with its 919 Hybrid prototype, Porsche did not rest on its laurels and was determined to keep its crown from Toyota's grasp. The dramatic events on the very last lap of the 2016 race meant Porsche had luckily inherited the win that year, so it had spent quite a bit of time developing the car over the winter.

The 2017 evolution of the 919 was first seen in public at the pre-season test at Paul Ricard, in the south of France, in late March. With a more rounded front end and larger, bulbous headlights, the new car looked a little different, but there was no doubting how much faster it was.

The cars arrived for race week at Le Mans having only finished 4th and 5th in terms of the fastest times set during the test day a week earlier, making the trio of Toyotas the favourites – the TS050s looking set to finally lay Toyota’s Le Mans ghost to rest, especially after the dramatic last lap loss in 2016. During qualifying, Porsche had found a little speed and would start in 3rd and 4th for the race – with Toyotas in 1st, 2nd and 5th. At the start, Toyota quickly established a healthy lead and when the #2 Porsche endured a lengthy pit stop to repair a front axle, things were looking bleak for the German manufacturer.

But Le Mans is rarely predictable and anything can happen during the long 24 hour race. Plus the weather was very hot for 2017 and that always helps the gremlins. One by one, the Toyotas encountered problems -  two had retired before half-distance and the third had been delayed early on, leaving the #1 Porsche with a sizeable lead. Just when the result seemed decided, fate intervened, as it always seems to at Le Mans. Grinding to a halt on the Mulsanne Straight with an unspecified mechanical failure, with just four hours to go, it left one of the diminutive LMP2s in charge of the race – the first time one of these smaller prototypes had ever led here.

Porsche #2 was still some way behind, but had been running faultlessly since its early repair. Being quite a bit faster, the trio of drivers – Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley – gradually took back the laps required and grabbed the lead with about an hour to go. Bernhard and Bamber had won the race before (for Audi in 2010 and Porsche in 2015 respectively), but it would be the first win at Le Mans for the talented young Kiwi, who would win again in 2020, driving for Toyota.

Ixo has released both of the Porsche entries for the 2017 race under its Limited Edition Series, in 1/18 and 1/43 scales. I’ve still yet to establish quite how many examples constitute the limited edition moniker, but what is obvious is that the quality of replication is absolutely top notch. This is particularly evident on the larger versions – the level of detailing is really something rather special. The reflective panel on the top of the cockpit and the rear exhaust outlets on the upper rear bodywork are two areas that are particularly worthy of extra praise.

Both model sizes feature diecast bodies on plastic bases. The printing of the colour scheme and graphics on both scales is perfectly reproduced too and that is no mean feat as the striping negotiates plenty of complex curves along its journey from the nose to the rear of the car. Having witnessed both cars at the race, with several photos taken during the event, I can vouch for the level of authenticity that Ixo has bestowed upon these perfect beauties.

After a trio of wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours with the 919 from 2015 to 2017, the board at Porsche decide to discontinue the racing programme, preferring to take an optimised chassis to selected European circuits during 2018 to show what the design could achieve without rulebook restrictions in place. The pinnacle of this would be achieved on 29th June 2018, at Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, with Timo Bernhard at the wheel, setting an astonishing lap record of just 5 minutes and 19.55 seconds for the incredibly challenging 12.9 mile track.

In addition to the models showcased here, Ixo has also released two other versions of this latest evolution of the 919, in both scales of course - the 2017 pre-season test car, trialled at Paul Ricard (Nos SP919-1819 and SP919-4319) and the 2018 Tribute version that was driven to that new lap record at Nürburgring by Timo Bernhard (SP919-1821 and SP919-4321) – all available for wholesale enquiries through John Ayrey Die-casts at www.ayrey.co.uk, or contact your preferred retailer.