PORSCHE MOTORSPORT DEBUTS ITS LATEST ENTRY – the 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR – at the rapidly approaching Daytona 24 Hours in January 2017, on the 28th and 29th.

This latest running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona is the first race of the year.  The American sports-car marathon classic kicks off the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in North America.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: 2017 911 RSR pictured from high-left-front in garage. Credit: PAG
Credit: Porsche AG

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR Fully Benefits from FIA GT Regulations

On the eve of the all-new 911 RSR debut, Porsche intimates that its racecar’s latest evolutionary iteration is raring to go.  That is, the Stuttgart, Germany, automobile manufacturer assures us that the GT racer can and will exploit Le Mans 24-Hour FIA GT regulations to fullest advantage.

No wonder, then, that expectations run high for multiple victories and podiums throughout the season.  So what else can we anticipate regarding the latest brawny brainchild from Porsche Motorsport?

New Name for the New 2017 Porsche 911 GT Racecar?

Porsche announced back on October 1, 2016, that the company’s then 911 RSR was running its last race at Petit Le Mans.  The company’s press release sounded like a virtual eulogy to the moderately successful racecar.

Click here to check out the article on the 2016 Porsche 911 GT’s last race at Petit Le Mans.

In fact, this loving ode of farewell seemed to imply that Porsche would be forever memorializing the race car by retiring its moniker — not unlike retiring an athletic champion’s jersey and number.

So it sounded to me like the rennsport studs from Stuttgart would be renaming the 911 RSR something entirely different in distinction.  Not.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - Maria Sharapova and Patrick Dempsey in front of the new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR making its World Premiere at the 2016 LA Auto Show. Credit: Porsche AG
Maria Sharapova and Patrick Dempsey in front of the new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR making its World Premiere at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. Credit: Porsche AG

2017 911 RSR’s Intriguing Aerodynamics – New Rear Diffuser

I saw the new 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR up close and personal at the recent 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show.  At first glance, the race car looks like your typical Porsche 911 GT racer from recent years past.  However, on closer inspection, there was something entirely different about the car.

As you ease your way round from front fascia, then alongside, nothing astonishing leaps out at you.  In fact, the GT-class racer could be any of its predecessors with the subtle exception of the new livery.

(According to Porsche, incidentally, this latest livery design was expressly fashioned to establish Porsche Motorsports’ new clear, dynamic design language for the future.)

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut: 2017 911 RSR right-rear on track. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Aaah, but once you round either aft corner, it hits you:  There, beneath the RSR’s taillights, rear bumper and exhaust pipes, is some brand-spanking-new, ginormous. . . thing. . .

What is that thingamajig?

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - 2017 911 RSR seen here from its left-rear angle on track, displaying its ginormous rear diffuser. Credit: PAG
Credit: Porsche AG

We were told during the 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR’s World Premiere presentation at the L.A. Auto Show that it’s the RSR’s new rear diffuser.  This mammoth aerodynamic marvel rivals most if not all diffusers found at the rear of any recent Adrian Newey-designed Formula One race cars.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - the 911 RSR is seen here in a tighter shot of its left-rear on track, showing off its huge rear diffuser. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

In addition, Porsche has transplanted a GT version of the massive rear wing from the Le Mans-winning and WEC-championship-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid.

If these two new aero developments working in tandem don’t help suck down and stick the car to the track like a rocket on rails, then nothing will.

Yikes!  A Mid-Engined 911!

In terms of precedent, though, that new aero set-up is a gnat to an elephant:  The most radical departure from models past is the engine’s placement — in front of the rear axle[!].  Yikes, indeed.

Yes, as everyone has heard by now, the unheard-of configuration of the 911 RSR’s latest powertrain concept is that of a mid-engined layout — which to most 911 purists is pure heresy.

In its own defense, Porsche reasons that this set-up mainly allows for the placement of the aforementioned gargantuan rear diffuser.

For some inexplicable reason, though, this is Porsche’s only heretofore publicized rationale.  The company has thus been down-playing this revolutionary engine re-positioning – not in evolutionary fashion as is usually the Zuffenhausen modus operandi.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - the 2017 911 RSR is seen from its right-front on track. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

But it is what it is for now, as the cliché goes.  How it all plays out in terms of actual performance, as well as in terms of Weissach’s design impact on future production 911s, remains to be seen.

In any case, at long last this mid-engine concept concedes a much better weight distribution for carving through the curves and Sssses.  Consequently, there’s now more handling parity with the mid-engined Fords and Ferraris.  If this isn’t indeed revolutionary, then nothing is.

The latest 4.0-liter engine itself is no longer based on the original decades-old Mezger design.  Instead, it is derived from the 991 flat six and is an entirely fresh normally aspirated engine.  This engine is the latest member of an entirely new boxer engine family.

The RSR engine is composed of extremely light aggregate, featuring a rigid valve drive and direct fuel injection.  According to Porsche, this translates to an ultra-modern, lightweight design that results in extraordinary efficiency.

In short, the body shell, suspension, aerodynamics, engine and transmission have been conceived from scratch, from the ground up.  Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Head of Porsche Motorsport, sums it all up:  “While retaining the typical 911 design, this is the biggest evolution by now in the history of our top GT model.”

Total engine output rises to a maximum of about 510 hp (375 kW), depending of course on the specific size of the restrictor.

Other Novel 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR Features

Other newly introduced features include:

  • “Collision Avoid System”
  • Greater Safety Set-Up
  • Quick-Release Body Fasteners
  • Quicker Suspension Set-up

The “Collision Avoid System” (CAS) is Porsche’s newly introduced state-of-the-art assistance system.  CAS is a radar-supported collision warning system.  Its intent is to forewarn of faster LMP prototypes on rapid looming approach.  It supposedly works even during nighttime endurance hours so that, as Porsche puts it, “misunderstandings can be avoided.”

(Although, I seriously doubt that CAS would have prevented the No. 912 car from colliding with the No. 911 during the 2015 Daytona 24, had CAS been in operation back then.  This was a horrific collision which, sadly, took both cars out of podium contention.)

Could CAS possibly be among Porsche’s initial forays into the driverless-vehicle concept, perhaps?

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - seen here is a view of the complex steering wheel of the 2017 911 RSR, looking in from the driver's door. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Greater Safety Set-Up features include a racing seat rigidly mounted to the chassis with a new movable and adjustable pedal set-up.  Also new to the mix is an innovative safety cage configuration supposedly never seen nor utilized in the past.

Quick-Release Body Fasteners now allow for lightning-quick exchanges of whole carbon-fiber body sections.  This also makes for much quicker servicing of the 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR.

Quicker Suspension Set-up allows for exactly what its name implies, rapid adjusted configuring of the suspension set-ups on the fly.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - The 2017 911 RSR is seen here head on, from front, on track. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR Racing Season

The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR will be contested both here in the States and in Europe and Asia.

The new Porsche GT racer will take part in 19 championship races.  Porsche reckons this is the equivalent of a little more than 140 hours of flag-to-flag paint-trading rolling combat.

“We’re very well prepared for this,” asserts Marco Ujhasi, Head of GT Works Sport.  “Since its first rollout in Weissach in March this year, we’ve covered 35,000 test kilometers on racetracks in Europe and North America — that’s more than in the development of any other Porsche GT racer.”

The two major racing series to be contested are the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in America and Canada, and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Europe and Asia, as well as in Mexico and on home turf in Austin, Texas, at Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

Let the season begin!

Technical data – 2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR

Concept

Single-seater race car for the LM-GTE category

Weight/dimensions

Weight:  approximately 2,740 pounds (1,243 kg) (base weight per regulations)

Length:  14.95 feet (4,557 mm) (without splitter, rear wing, diffuser)

Width:  6.7 feet (2,042 mm) (front axle) / 6.72 feet (2,048 mm) (rear axle)

Wheelbase:  8.25 feet (2,516 mm)

Engine

Water-cooled six-cylinder boxer, positioned in front of the rear axle; 4,000 cm3, stroke 81.5 mm, bore 102 mm; approx. 510 hp (375 kW) depending on restrictor; four-valve technology; direct fuel injection; dry sump lubrication; single-mass flywheel; power output limitation via restrictor; electronic throttle.

Transmission

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.

Body

Weight-optimized chassis in combined aluminum 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 pedal set-up; 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.

Suspension

Front axle:  double wishbone front axle; four-way vibration damper; twin coil spring set-up (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 set-up (main and helper spring); anti-roll bars, adjustable by blade positions; electro-hydraulic power steering; tripod drive shafts.

2017 Porsche GT-class 911 RSR: Rolex 24 Daytona debut - the 2017 911 RSR, seen from front-left angle, on track. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Brakes

Two independent brake circuits for front and rear axle, adjustable via balance bar.

Front axle:  One-piece aluminum six-piston racing calipers with quick coupling; internally ventilated steel brake discs, 390 mm diameter; race brake pads; optimized brake cooling ducts.

Rear axle:  One-piece aluminum four-piston racing calipers with quick coupling; internally ventilated steel brake discs, 355 mm diameter; race brake pads; optimized brake cooling ducts.

Wheels / Tires

Front axle:  One-piece forged light alloy wheels, 12.5Jx18 offset 25 with center lock nut; Michelin slick 30/68-18.

Rear axle:  One-piece forged light alloy wheels, 13Jx18 offset 37 with center lock nut; Michelin slick 31/71-18.

Electronics

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; tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS); drink system; air conditioning system; membrane switch panel on center console with fluorescent labeling.