Porsche has spent plenty of time to piece together a new version of the 911 for the FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, and to defeat just about anything it will be competing against. The result, the hair-raising Porsche 911 RSR, unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show last month.
This competitive track racer of the Porsche factory team is powered by a 4.0-litre flat-six that has an output of up to 510bhp, but it isn’t positioned where you’d expect the engine to be in a 911. Nope, it’s mounted AHEAD of the rear-axle, making this a mid-engined Porsche 911.
Calm-down Porsche fans, your road-going 911s are still going to be rear-engined, and the reasoning for the change in engine positioning for the GT racer, as explained by the head of Porsche motorsport himself, will be shared with you later in this article.
Now, back to the car. The repositioned engine has allowed the Porsche designers to make the rear-diffuser larger and fitted a rear wing taken from their hybrid-powered 919 LMP1 car. The 911 RSR is paired with a six-speed sequential gearbox with shift paddles mounted on the wheel.
Porsche even fitted a collision-warning system to help avoid the faster LMP1 racecars on track. They have also improved the car’s serviceability with easier to remove and replace large parts of the body and suspension, and worked on a safer kind of cage and a rigid-mounted seat.
Let’s enjoy this track-exclusive 911 RSR while there’s time, before the hybrid racers catch up with this category of motorsport.
Now, to explain WHY Porsche made the 911 RSR a mid-engined track car. Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, the Head of Porsche Motorsport said that the RSR “is the biggest evolution in the history of our top GT model”. It has all-new suspension, aerodynamics, engine, transmission and body structure too, to make “full use of the breadth of the Le Mans 24 Hours GT regulations”. To further explain Dr Walliser’s point, manufacturers cannot simply use engine power to defeat their rivals, not with the engine and aero restrictions that are in place. “You can’t just win with an outstanding engine, so moving the engine is all about weight distribution and managing the tyres better. Tyre wear is just as important as peak performance.”
We simply cannot wait to see the 911 RSR in action, its first outing being in January’17 at the opening round of the American IMSA Weathertech Championship – the Daytona 24 Hours.