HALLELUJAH! DARKNESS IS ABOUT TO GIVE WAY TO THE LIGHT. The start of the new 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season is that light at the end of the wintry off-season tunnel. Even though Petite Le Mans was only a little more than a Thanksgiving away, in October, it does feel like we’ve had to endure the off-season in protracted darkness, doesn’t it?
2016 Roar Before the Rolex 24
Granted, the 2016 Roar Before the Rolex 24 isn’t the season’s first race — the Rolex 24 at Daytona during the weekend of January 30 and 31 in fact is the inaugural race of the season. Yet, the Roar Before is our very first chance to blow that metaphorical post-season carbon off our pistons, so to speak.
Thus the countdown to the new rennsport season and to the 24 Hours of Daytona at Florida’s venerable speedway has officially begun.
And, yes, it gets even better: During the three official test days that constitute the 2016 Roar Before the Rolex 24 event this weekend, Porsche brings some promising attractive playthings to the party: the upgraded 2016-spec Porsche 911 RSR and the brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Upgraded Porsche 911 RSR
This year, revised IMSA regulations have imposed spec changes and modifications, with an emphasis on aerodynamics. Some of the just-announced features of the new, compliant 2016-spec Porsche 911 RSR follow:
- New livery scheme — this is the world premiere of the new color scheme of a white body, giving way to a black paint finish rising from the 911 RSR’s rear end and cresting along the hardtop. But again it spells out the beginnings of “Porsche Intelligent Performance” across the topside of the machine.
- The rear wing has been pushed further backward on the car.
- The wing’s diffuser has increased in size.
- The side sills have been widened even more.
- The front spoiler lip has been modified further from last year’s version.
- A newly modified seat and an enlarged roof hatch further improve Porsche’s already high safety standards.
But perhaps the most invaluable advance this year is the genesis of a newly positioned radiator. Now there’s one radiator positioned front and center in the car. Porsche claims this not only enhances the car’s center of gravity, but also improves the venting of hot air through a new louver system within the car’s anterior fascia.
This novel but overdue re-positioning dramatically reduces that congenital vulnerability of the 911 from the past: The previous two front-left-corner and front-right-corner radiators suffered the fatal flaw of being extremely susceptible to terminal collision damage. Many a 911-based racecar were taken out of action whenever these corner radiators were thrashed in run-ins with barriers or with other racers on the track. Highly probable result: DNF.
You know what they say — you have to finish the race if you desire to win it. So maybe more 911-based racecars the world over will ultimately finish and therefore win their races in the future because of this potentially game-changing evolution.
The 911 RSR is once again being fielded by the Porsche North America works team to challenge in the GTLM (GT Le Mans) class.
“It’s always exciting to bring a new car to the racetrack and officially present our new vehicle design to the public,” enthuses Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager of GT Works Motorsport. “Today, we have taken the first steps towards setting up the new 911 RSR with its aero updates to the track.”
The New Porsche 911 GT3 R
Porsche also debuts a brand-new four-liter, flat-six engine with direct fuel injection – the 911 GT3 R. It will race in the GTD (GT Daytona) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Now with a longer wheelbase for the first time, the 911 GT3 R will be contested in this class by privateer customer teams in both the IMSA Championship and other GT3 series around the world.
Based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, the 500 hp 911 GT3 R racecar, as developed by the engineers at Weissach, boasts the following upgrades:
- Better power-to-weight ratios
- Greater aerodynamic efficiency
- Reduced fuel consumption
- Improved handling
- Lower spare-parts and servicing costs
- And, as mentioned previously, that all-important centrally positioned radiator
Great Kick-Off to the New Season
Last year’s winning 470-hp 911 RSR from Weissach swept all three championship titles in the GTLM class for manufacturers, teams and drivers. Let’s hope our new Porsche 2016 RSR will not only meet but also exceed its forebear, which is one hell-of-an act to follow. Let’s also hope that the new Porsche 911 GT3 R will follow suit for its privateers.
Here’s to kicking off the new season with the most prestigious endurance sports-car marathon on the planet’s North American continent, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Aaaaah, it’s about time. . .