If there’s one defining factor about the Porsche 911, it’s always been the car’s rear-engine layout. That’s changing now, though, with the new 911 RSR. As spy photos had indicated, big changes are in store for the racer. The car has a mid-engine layout and will campaign in 19 races in the LM-GTE category in 2017, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
By putting the 4.0-liter flat-six engine ahead of the rear axle, Porsche says that engineers were able to install a larger rear aerodynamic diffuser. The new arrangement could conceivably also provide more balanced handling than hanging the engine out over the rear of the car. But because this is such a big change, pretty much every part of the RSR was developed from scratch, including the suspension, powertrain, and body. The car weighs 2,740 pounds (1,243 kilograms).
That engine is a naturally aspirated unit that, depending on what restrictor is required by series rules, will produce around 510 horsepower (375 kilowatts). It’s connected to a six-speed sequential transmission with a locking rear differential channeling power to the ground.
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Along with the larger rear diffuser, the 911 RSR has a new roof-mounted spoiler inspired by that of the 919 Hybrid racer, which Porsche says has dramatically increased downforce. The carbon-fiber bodywork has quick-release fasteners so it can easily be removed for quicker servicing.
Every other component of the Porsche 911 RSR is, of course, optimized for racing. The massive brakes have six-piston calipers, while the center-lock wheels have rear tires measuring a whopping 12.2 inches in width. A full roll cage replaces a regular Porsche interior, along with a bucket seat, race harnesses, a race steering wheel covered in switches and controls, and various other racing safety features. The seat is solidly mounted to the floor, so the pedal assembly moves to accommodate each driver.
Perhaps the coolest innovation is the Collision Avoid System, which uses radar to warn racing drivers of fast-approaching vehicles. Because there are big differences in the speed of endurance racers, and because it can be tough to see in the dark, the system is intended to warn racers before they change their driving line. Several other Le Mans teams have similar systems, including Corvette Racing.
The Porsche 911 RSR will make its racing debut on January 28, 2017, at Daytona. With a total of 19 races planned, Porsche says the car will have a total of 140 hours of competition next year.
Live Photos: Nathan Leach-Proffer
Gallery: Porsche 911 RSR
Porsche will tackle the 2017 racing season with an all-out newly developed GT racer. The new 911 RSR makes full use of the breadth of the Le Mans 24 Hours GT regulations, and in addition to systematic lightweight design, features the ultra-modern, flat-six unit positioned in front of the rear axle. The four-litre, extremely light aggregate features direct fuel injection as well as a rigid valve drive and is characterised by outstanding efficiency. The new 911 RSR will make its debut at the Daytona 24-hour race in January 2017.
“While retaining the typical 911 design, this is the biggest evolution by now in the history of our top GT model,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser. The new 911 RSR is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed from scratch. The engine concept has enabled the designers to install a particularly large rear diffuser. Combined with a top-mounted rear wing adopted from the LMP1 race car, the 919 Hybrid, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved.
“For the 911 RSR, we deliberately focussed on a particularly modern and light normally-aspirated engine, as this gave our engineers immense latitude in developing the vehicle,” explains Dr Walliser. “Apart from that, in principle, the LM-GTE regulations stipulate the absolute equality of various drive concepts, as the torque characteristics of turbo and normally aspirated engines are aligned.” Depending on the size of the restrictor, the new normally-aspirated unit puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Shift paddles on the steering wheel actuate the sequential six-speed gearbox with a magnesium housing, which delivers power to the 31-centimentre-wide rear wheels. The changeover to the new engine generation is now complete. After the 911 GT3 R and the 911 GT3 Cup, the spearhead of Porsche GT racing cars is now also powered by the same cutting-edge six-cylinder boxer engine family.
In the past, Porsche has already thoroughly pushed the limits with the concept of the 911 – in 1996 with the 911 GT1. With great success: In 1998 the 911 GT1 achieved the 16th overall victory for Porsche at the Le Mans 24-hour race. Back then, the fastest vehicle in the field emerged from the GT1 class.
For the first time, a Porsche GT race car features state-of-the-art assistance systems: the new 911 RSR is equipped with a radar-supported collision warning system, the so-called “Collision Avoid System”. Even in the dark, the faster LMP prototypes are detected early enough and misunderstandings can be avoided. A new safety cage concept and a new, rigidly-mounted racing seat enhance driver safety. With the seat fixed to the chassis, the pedalry can now been moved and adjusted to fit the driver.
The new 911 RSR’s serviceability has also been significantly improved: Entire elements of the carbon-fibre body can be exchanged completely in a very short time thanks to clever quick-release fasteners. Moreover, changes to the suspension setup can be performed much more quickly and easily.
With the look of the body wrapping, the 911 RSR is striking out in a new direction: For the first time, the GT racer bears the new factory design that has further developed the clear and dynamic design language of Porsche Motorsport. From a bird’s eye view, a hint of the Porsche emblem silhouette can be seen. The basic colours remain white, red and black.
In the 2017 season, the factory is expected to run the new 911 RSR at 19 outings which equates to more than 140 hours of racing. With two factory-entries, Porsche will tackle the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) including the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the American IMSA Weathertech Championship. The new racer will celebrate its debut under the toughest conditions at the IMSA season opener in Daytona on 28-29 January. “We’re very well prepared for this,” says Marco Ujhasi, Head of GT Works Sport. “Since its first rollout in Weissach in March this year we’ve covered 35,000 test kilometres on racetracks in Europe and North America – that’s more than in the development of any other Porsche GT racer.”
Technical data Porsche 911 RSR model year 2017
Single-seater race car for the LM-GTE category
Weight ca. 1,243 kg (base weight per regulations)
Length 4,557 mm (without splitter, rear wing, diffuser)
Width 2,042 mm (front axle) / 2,048 mm (rear axle)
Wheelbase 2,516 mm
Water-cooled six cylinder boxer, positioned in front of the rear axle; 4,000 cm3, stroke 81.5 mm, bore 102 mm; ca. 375 kW (510 hp) depending on restrictor; four-valve technology; direct fuel injection; dry sump lubrication; single mass flywheel; power output limitation via restrictor; electronic throttle.
Six-speed sequential constant-mesh gearbox; two-shaft longitudinal layout with bevel gear; shifting via electronic shift actuator; shift paddles on the steering wheel; magnesium gearbox casing; multi-disc self-locking differential with visco unit; three disc carbon race clutch.
Weight-optimised chassis in combined aluminium steel design; removable roof hatch for cockpit access; lifting bushes integrated in the roof; FT3 fuel cell in front of the car; welded-in roll cage; seat pursuant to FIA 8862-2009; rigidly mounted to the chassis; six-point safety harness for use with HANS; longitudinally adjustable pedalry; bodywork made of CFRP, quick-change; rear wing with “swan neck” mounts; four-post air jack system with safety pressure valve; electronically activated fire extinguisher system; heated windscreen.
Front axle: double wishbone front axle; four-way vibration damper; twin coil spring setup (main and helper spring); anti-roll bars, adjustable by blade positions; electro-hydraulic power steering
Rear axle: integrated rear axle subframe with double wishbone axle; four-way vibration damper; twin coil spring setup (main and helper spring); anti-roll bars, adjustable by blade positions; electro-hydraulic power steering; tripod drive shafts.
Two independent brake circuits for front and rear axle, adjustable via balance bar.
Front axle: One piece aluminium six-piston racing callipers with quick coupling; internally ventilated steel brake discs, 390 mm diameter; race brake pads; optimised brake cooling ducts.
Rear axle: One piece aluminium four-piston racing callipers with quick coupling; internally ventilated steel brake discs, 355 mm diameter; race brake pads; optimised brake cooling ducts.
Front axle: One piece forged light alloy wheels, 12.5Jx18 offset 25 with centre lock nut; Michelin slick 30/68-18.
Rear axle: One piece forged light alloy wheels, 13Jx18 offset 37 with centre lock nut; Michelin slick 31/71-18.
Cosworth Central Logger Unit; CFRP multi-functional steering wheel with integrated display; shift paddles and quick release; Collision Avoidance System; controlled alternator in connection with LiFePo4 battery; LED headlights; LED taillights plus rain light; illuminated car number and leader light system; black light inside cockpit; electric adjustable wing mirrors with memory function; tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS); drink system; air conditioning system; membrane switch panel on centre console with fluorescent labelling.