The 2017 motorsport season can begin: The Porsche GT Team is well prepared for the 24 Hours of Daytona – the season-opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship in the USA and Canada. The factory squad used this weekend’s official test, “The Roar before the Rolex 24”, to setup the new 911 RSR for its race debut at the world famous long distance classic in Florida on 28/29 January. Under changeable weather conditions, the 911 RSR racers with the starting numbers 911 and 912 covered a total of 2,936 kilometres on the Daytona International Speedway, the legendary racetrack characterised by its fast banked corners and a tight infield. Six works drivers took part in the Daytona tests for the Porsche GT Team, as well as another five who will tackle the traditional season opener for various customer teams with the Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Over the three test days, Patrick Pilet (France), Dirk Werner (Germany) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) completed 1,431 kilometres on the Daytona International Speedway at the wheel of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. Their team colleagues Kévin Estre (France), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria) covered 1,505 kilometres in the sister 911 RSR with the starting number 912. Driving for the Porsche GT Team, these driver trios will tackle both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Sebring 12-hour race on 18 March, the second major long distance classic of IMSA SportsCar Championship. The Porsche factory pilots Wolf Henzler (Germany/TRG), Jörg Bergmeister (Germany/Park Place Motorsports), Patrick Long (USA/Core Autosport), Michael Christensen (Denmark/Alegra Motorsports) and Sven Müller (Germany/Manthey Racing) conducted the Daytona test in the Porsche 911 GT3 R for various customer teams, for whom they will also contest the race. For Dirk Werner, Laurens Vanthoor and Sven Müller, the 24 Hours of Daytona has a very special meaning: It marks their first race as Porsche works drivers.
“The test kilometres that we covered over the last three days in preparation for the race were very important,” said Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport. “We managed to tick off all the points we’d scheduled for ourselves and now we have a much better understanding of the car on this racetrack. In addition, we experienced changeable and very diverse track conditions. It was dry and wet, warm and cold – precisely what you need in race preparations to be primed for all eventualities. We feel very well prepared for the race and the premiere of our new 911 RSR. In this respect, these three days in Florida were very successful.”
After a severe thunderstorm during the night, the racetrack was still wet on Saturday when the teams took up the first practice session under cloudy skies. The weather did not improve. In fact, strong winds accompanied the occasional showers and the spring temperatures from the previous day plummeted to ten degrees Celsius. Only over the course of the second session of the day did the rain stop and the track dry up. However, the Porsche GT Team made the most of the changeable weather conditions. The new Porsche 911 RSR, which celebrates its race debut at the Daytona 24 Hours, has conducted very few tests on a wet track. In this respect, day two of “The Roar before the Rolex 24” may not have been particularly fun for the fans, but for the Porsche engineers the three Saturday sessions yielded new and important insights.
Sharing driving duties in the 911 RSR with the starting number 911 were again the Frenchmen Patrick Pilet and Frédéric Makowiecki with the new Porsche works driver Dirk Werner (Germany). The second 911 RSR (#912) was manned by Kévin Estre (France), Porsche newcomer Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Richard Lietz (Austria). These pairings represent the driver lineups for both the 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the second long distance classic of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the 12 Hours of Sebring contested on 18 March. Their works driver colleagues Wolf Henzler (Germany/TRG), Jörg Bergmeister (Germany/Park Place Motorsports), Patrick Long (USA/Core Autosport), Michael Christensen (Denmark/Alegra Motorsports) and Sven Müller (Germany/Manthey Racing) will complete the official Daytona test in the 911 GT3 R of Porsche customer teams, for whom they will also contest the 24-hour race.
The Porsche GT Team puts the two 911 RSR featuring a new factory design through their paces on the Daytona International Speedway. They face strong competition in the GTLM class from BMW, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Ford. Sharing the #911 vehicle for the test and race are Patrick Pilet (France), Dirk Werner and Frèdéric Makowiecki (France), with Laurens Vanthoor, Kévin Estre (France) and Richard Lietz (Austria) at the wheel of the #912 car.
Five other Porsche factory drivers are preparing with customer teams for the 24 Hours of Daytona: Jörg Bergmeister (Germany/Park Place Motorsports), Michael Christensen (Denmark/Alegra Motorsports), Wolf Henzler (Germany/TRG), Patrick Long (USA/CORE Autosport) as well as Supercup champion Sven Müller (Germany/Manthey Racing). They drive the Porsche 911 GT3 R, which celebrated its race debut a year ago in Daytona mounted with the new ultra-modern, four-litre, flat-six engine with direct fuel injection. The customer sports racer, which was designed by Porsche for the worldwide GT3 series on the basis of the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, will tackle the GTD class.
“This test is very important. It’s the starting signal for the new racing season. Following the short Christmas break, these three days are about re-examining and perfectly synchronising all the routines and procedures within the team,” says Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager for GT Works Motorsport. “Of course, there is still a lot to learn with the new 911 RSR and we need to try out various parameters. That’s exactly what we’re doing from session to session. We have a precise plan that we’re working through point by point. Hopefully we’ll be able to put a tick next to each one on Sunday and know how we’ll tackle the race in three weeks. With time so short, the set-up work we do now will be of benefit for the race weekend.”
In addition to the IMSA SportsCar Championship, the 911 RSR will also be campaigned as a works entry in the WEC Sports Car World Endurance Championship. The successor to the most successful GT race car of the last years, which secured no less than 22 victories and eight championship titles between 2013 and 2016, is a completely new development: the suspension, body structure, aerodynamic concept, engine and transmission have all been designed from scratch. The engine, now in front of the rear axle, enabled the designers to install a particularly large rear diffuser. Combined with a top-mounted rear wing adopted from the LMP1 919 Hybrid race car, the level of downforce and the aerodynamic efficiency were significantly improved.
The particularly modern and light normally-aspirated engine gave the engineers immense latitude in developing the vehicle. Depending on the size of the restrictor, the power plant puts out around 375 kW (510 hp). Shift paddles actuate the sequential six-speed gearbox with a magnesium housing, which delivers power to the 31-centimetre-wide rear wheels. The 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.
Another new feature in the 911 RSR is the so-called “Collision Avoid System”. Even in the dark, with this radar-supported collision warning system, 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 further enhance driver safety. With the seat fixed to the chassis, the pedalry can now be moved and adjusted to fit the driver. Significant improvements have been made to the serviceability of the 911 RSR, which competes for the first time at Daytona with a new factory design: This has further developed the clear and dynamic design language of Porsche Motorsport. From a bird’s eye perspective, a hint of the Porsche emblem silhouette can be seen. The basic colours remain white, red and black.
The IMSA SportsCar Championship is a sports car race series contested in the USA and Canada, which was run in 2014 for the first time. The series was formed from the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Grand-Am Series. Sports prototypes and sports cars start in four different classes: GTLM (GT Le Mans), GTD (GT Daytona), P (Prototype) and PC (Prototype Challenge). The Porsche 911 RSR runs in the GTLM class, with the Porsche 911 GT3 R contesting the GTD class.
911 GT3 RS: Combined fuel consumption: 12,7 l/100 km; Combined CO2 emissions: 296 g/km