IN 2016, PORSCHE’S PRIMARY GT FACTORY PROGRAM WORLDWIDE will be campaigned here in North America, according to the Porsche North America 2016 Post-Roar Report. For the third consecutive season, Porsche North America will operate the two-car “works” Porsche 911 RSR in the newly renamed WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
However, this will be the first time since 2014 there will not be a matching international program racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), giving the Rock Hill, South Carolina-based Porsche North America team the full focus of the German company’s much prized sports car racing experience.
Following an extraordinarily successful 2015 season, where the North American program swept the GTLM driver championship with Patrick Pilet (France), the team title and the manufacturer’s crown with four wins (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Road America, Virginia International Raceway and a staggering overall win at the season-ending Petit Le Mans), Porsche returns to defend against an increased field of manufacturer-backed competition from Ferrari, Chevrolet, Ford and BMW.
The 2016 driver lineup will see Pilet back in the No. 911 Porsche North America 911 RSR with Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and, for the endurance races, Porsche factory newcomer Kevin Estre (France). Frenchman Frederic Makowiecki will share the No. 912 with New Zealand’s Earl Bamber all season with Michael Christensen (Denmark) in for the races of 10 hours or more.
Roar Before The Rolex 24
Seven Porsche teams, representing both the two car factory Porsche North America effort in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, with the Porsche 911 RSR and five customer programs debuting the brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, used the Roar Before The Rolex 24 weekend to setup the updated 911 RSR and the new 911 GT3 R for the Rolex 24 At Daytona in Florida.
“These three days of testing ran successfully. The program that we’d set for ourselves ranged from qualifying preparations to long runs,” said Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport. “We were able to work through our schedule without the slightest technical problem. Everything ran as expected and we feel well prepared for the race. As far as we’re concerned, we could race tomorrow.”
The 54th Running of the classic American endurance race on the Daytona International Speedway is scheduled for January 30-31. The two 911 RSRs fielded by the works team covered a total of 1,660 miles on the legendary racetrack, which consists of the fast banked turns on the world-famous oval and a tight and twisty infield.
In total, nine Porsche factory pilots and one Porsche Junior tested at Daytona. The two factory 911 RSRs were joined by five of the newly developed Porsche 911 GT3 R, a racecar designed and homologated for customer racing programs worldwide.
Porsche 911 RSR Updated, Porsche 911 GT3 R Makes North American Debut
The Porsche 911 RSR in its new factory finish underwent updates for the 2016 season, particularly to the aerodynamics. The position of the rear wing was moved further to the back, and the rear diffuser is now considerably larger. Moreover, the 470 hp 911 RSR, which has been developed on the basis of the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, received a modified front spoiler lip as well as wider side sills.
The latest 911 GT3 R, also based on the latest 911 chassis, will be campaigned by traditional Porsche customer teams. The new racecar was run at Daytona for the first time with the new ultra-modern four-liter flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. Porsche built the 500 hp racing car, based on the production 911 GT3 RS sports car, for FIA homologated GT3 race series worldwide.
In developing the vehicle, the engineers at Weissach paid special attention to lightweight design, better aerodynamic efficiency, reducing fuel consumption as well as improved handling. In addition, safety features underwent further optimization and the costs of servicing and spare parts are now lower for competing teams.
The customer 911 GT3 R program is the cornerstone of Porsche’s 2016 international gentleman driver platform. With the IMSA WeatherTech Championship mandating all cars in the GT Daytona (GTD) class fit the international GT3 rules, the new GT3 R was quickly chosen by 27-year Porsche veteran team Alex Job Racing for use by its customer teams of WeatherTech Racing and Team Seattle. Following suit was the Park Place Motorsports entry and, returning to the Porsche fold, Black Swan Racing. In addition, German specialist Frikadelli Racing has also entered a GT3 R in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“Our customer teams made perfect use of the test days with the new 911 GT3 R, said Sascha Pilz, Head of GT Customer Motorsport. “Their fast lap times and the positive feedback that we’ve received are proof of this. The squads and the drivers familiarized themselves with the new vehicle quickly and made great progress in setting up the car.” Pilz concluded by saying, “We leave Daytona feeling very confident and we’re looking forward to the race and the new season, which promises some great racing and a lot of gripping action.”
Factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) will drive for Black Swan, Wolf Henzler (Germany) with Team Seattle and Jörg Bergmeister (Germany) with Park Place for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Porsche Junior driver Sven Müller (Germany) and recent Porsche Junior, Connor De Phillippi (San Clemente, California) will share the No. 30 Frikadelli car.
Cayman GT4 Clubsport Brings Porsche Intelligent Performance to Entry-Level Racing
Most recently, Porsche has focused its official motorsports efforts on variants of the iconic rear-engine Porsche 911 like the 911 RSR and GT3 R as well as on mid-engine prototypes such as the 2006 – 2008 RS Spyder and the current Porsche 919 Hybrid. These cars were developed for professional-level racing as well as for the 20 different Porsche one-make series around the globe.
That all changed with the late-2015 announcement of the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport. Based on the mid-engined, closed-cockpit Cayman GT4 road car, the “Clubsport” variant provides a track-only entry to amateur drivers looking to take the next career step, and enter the world of professional racing with a Porsche.
Like its street counterpart, the new racecar is powered by a 3.8-liter flat-six engine. The 385 hp (283 kW) mid-engine racer features a Porsche double clutch (PDK) transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel and a mechanical rear-axle locking differential. The lightweight suspension strut front axle system is taken directly from its big 911 GT3 Cup brother, which is campaigned in Supercup and the various Carrera Cup championships around the world.
“The Cayman GT4 street car was developed, like all other road-going Porsche GT versions, at the motorsports department at Weissach, said Jens Walther, President and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “It was during that development, when we actually went through the car, that we saw the potential for competition.”
The impressive racing brake system is fitted with steel brake discs all round measuring 15-inch (380-millimeters) in diameter. Tipping the scales at just 2,866 lbs. (1,300 kilograms), the Cayman GT4 Clubsport, delivered from the factory with a welded-in safety cage, a racing bucket seat as well as a six-point harness, is truly lightweight.
Designed for simple, reliable and safe racing, the Cayman GT4 Clubsport is eligible for multiple one-make race series worldwide, including the Porsche Club of America‘s PCA Club Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trophy-East series, the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA West series, as well as the GS class of IMSA’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge support series.
The car made its on-track debut this weekend with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in the hands of four race teams: Bodymotion Racing, CJ Wilson Racing, DeMan Motorsport and longtime Porsche entrant Muehlner Motorsports America. The No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing entry turned quickest lap of the weekend in the GS class, with a best time of 1:57.430 on the last day of testing.
According to Mr. Walther, “We have understood the need for an entry-level racecar for some time, and we are pleased with the early success our customer teams achieved this weekend here at the ROAR.”
Source: Kind courtesy of Porsche Motorsport North America