This year, Porsche entered an all-new 911 RSR in the LMGTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and overseas in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, a championship that allowed the car to savor its first glory.
Though this past weekend at Petit Le Mans Porsche was unable to repeat its extraordinary overall win from 2015, no thanks to the rain, the new generation 911 RSR did however secure its first two titles - Drivers (Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner) and Teams (Porsche GT Team) - in the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC), the mini-championship within a championship comprised of the four major races of the season: the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans. Here is a look at the origins of the Porsche 911 RSR that finished fourth in the LMGTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in June.
The development of the new version of the Porsche 911 RSR was launched at the beginning of 2015 with a small team commissioned to…learn from past lessons! The group was also charged with studying the LMGTE Pro technical regulations, in effect since January 1, 2016, and the sporting regulations.
In tandem with those efforts, the factory drivers became involved for the first time from the outset of the project with just one goal: their own comfort, given that Endurance racing has evolved into a long distance sprint. Nothing was left to chance in terms of visibility, including at the front and rear (drivers now have use of a sophisticated anti-collision system, in case of rain or fog, equipped with a screen to display images from a camera mounted at the rear to indicate if another car is following), as well as the position of the buttons and other switches on the steering wheel and dashboard. This attention to detail has convinced Richard Lietz, winner of the FIA Endurance GT Drivers Cup in 2015, that "this is the best GT Porsche has ever designed."
Further proof of the interest in driver feedback: all official GT drivers participated in the shakedown of the car conducted in March of 2016 at the home track in Weissach, a large suburb of Stuttgart. Thereafter, an intense testing campaign was carried out in the form of a 50-hour test at the Sebring circuit. It is understood in Endurance racing circles that if a car manages to make it to the checkered flag at the 12 Hours of Sebring, it is capable of running for 24 hours at any other circuit. The Floridian track, a former U.S. Air Force training base, is atypical in its asphalt sections that lead into rather bumpy concrete portions, making it a popular testing ground for manufacturers in the development phase of their cars.
The Porsche 911 RSR has benefitted from, as do all new racing cars, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) which simulates the flow of air on the car, and several wind tunnel sessions, in the design of its aerodynamics. Actually, in designing the car, the ratio between simulation and circuit testing landed at 80% and 20%, respectively. The engine of the 911 - still aspirated (saving 40 kilos) unlike the Ferrari 488 GTE or Ford GT - took advantage of additional simulations via numerous tests performed on a testing rig, including 70 hours in every possible and imaginable weather condition, before the car ever hit the track.
Lastly, in addition to aero and mechanical efficiency, one of the main driving factors when developing the Porsche 911 RSR was ease of repair, a characteristic dear to Audi (before restriction by the regulations, changing out a gearbox took less than 10 minutes on the R8 and an Audi almost always set off again, even after returning in a bad state, capable of making it back to the pits). Now, swapping out a door takes only 15 seconds, and the front bumper and associated parts less than a minute!
For stats fans, no less than 5,342 parts make up the 2017 version of the Porsche 911 RSR, including 1,282 for the engine and 414 for the gearbox. The largest part is of course the chassis, and the smallest is a door handle snap ring.
For now, seven 911 RSRs have been produced, three for testing and four for racing: two in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and two in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Assembly time is the equivalent of four individuals working full-time for ten days, but when you love something, who's counting?
PHOTO (Copyright - Porsche AG): Porsche tested the 911 RSR both night and day...