MAY THE DOWNFORCE BE WITH YOU

PORSCHEíS 911 GT3 RS SWEATS THE DETAILS TO EARN A MASTERS IN AIR MANAGEMENT. RESULT? A ROAD-GOING TRACK STAR

WORDS ANDY ENRIGHT

WHEN Porsche informed us that our 911 GT3 RS drive at the Nurburgring was on the GP circuit rather than the Nordschleife, I felt a pang of disappointment. It felt a bit like visiting the Monaco Grand Prix only to get no further than the merch tent. Having climbed out of the car after a handful of hot laps, soaked through with sweat, hands slightly a-tremor and then struggling for ways to fit what Iíd just experienced into any sensible frame of reference, Iím relieved that Porsche decided on the GP trackís more benign acreage of bitumen rather than the pine-pinioned rollercoaster of the Green Hell. My input meter is pegged as it is.

The latest 991.2 version of the GT3 RS will do that for you. In case youíre not aware, here are the cliff notes. It tips the scales at 1430 kilograms and features a normally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six in the back, driving through a seven-speed PDK gearbox. A manual is not available. Peak power is rated at 383kW at 8250rpm, up a mere 15kW on the GT3. Torque creeps up by 10Nm to 470Nm at 6000rpm. Zero to 100km/h disappears in 3.2 seconds and physics will only see the RS run out of answers at 312km/h.

At this point most reasonable people may well wonder why youíd pay more than 25 percent over the price of the sublime GT3 to land a car with improvements that nt th t ts that For somes m, al appear distinctly marginal. For some, all ll es in l ne the justification theyíll need comes in need come sp the historical resale values of Rennsportva ues value of R Rennsport l models but if you really want to gauge how ally wan ant to auo ga ge how over far this car has come over its predecessor, e its prede es d cessor has consider this. Porsche has been flogginglogging a been fl ord these cars around the Nordschleife ever dschleife ever peared in 2003. since the first GT3 RS appeared in 2003. In the intervening 12 years betw s between the introduction of that car and the r and the mproved 991 version, the lap times impr version by 26 seconds. Yet this 991.2 v sion carves a massive 24 second chunk off its unk off i unk off its faintly predecessorís time, recording a faintl k gobsmacking 6min 56.4sec mark.

That circuit pace has been achieveeved through four key areas, and the first tw t two are relatively easy to explain. The engineí ngineís additional power comes solely from the he fitment of a freer-breathing titanium exhaust and some electronic tweaks. Other ther than that, itís absolutely identical to the lump you get in the back of a GT3. The second factor that skews things a little is the driver. Iím not sure Iíve ever seen a production car driven on the old track with quite the demented commitment that Kevin Estre displayed when gifted an hour-long window in perfect conditions by the generous Corvette test team. He came within inches of grief after misjudging the double-right after the jump at Pflanzgarten but still kept it pinned, giving Porsche three cars that have clocked under seven minutes, the GT2 RS and 918 Spyder being the others.

The two morore in ernte esting sphere he two more interesting spheres of of development are aer f de opm nt are aerody amics and evelopme t yn ynamics and su suspension setup. The way it works air suspension setup he way it wo ks airflow rflow is particular is particularly effect i effectivc ive. The GT3 RS now he GT3 RS no delivers mor delivers more downforce than any Porsche wnforce than any Porsc road car road car. Yes, that even includes the mighty en includes the mighty GT2 RS. GT2 RS. With no turbochargers and less gers and less cooling airflo cooling airflow required, the GT3 RS can the GT3 RS can instead put that air to work delivering real instead put that air to w delivering r downforce. Crank the manually adjustable wnfor y adjusta rear wing to its most aggressive setting rear wing to its most agg setting and the 991.2 delivers 40 percent more and the 991.2 deli 40 percent mor downforce than its predecessor. Thatís ahatís a orce than its pr massi massive step change in high-speed gripgrip step change in high-speed g and a lot of work has also been devoted to and a lot of w oted to making the car stable and aerodynamically making the car sta effective during high-speed braking.

The front end of the 991.1 directed The fr ected cooling air to its front brake discs, venting high pressure air back out of the arches through the gills atop the front guards. This ough the gills atop the front guar latest car instead uses the front air intakes latest car instead uses the fr es to funnel air to the front diffuser, which which then hands it over across the flat floor to then hands it o oss the flat floor to the rear diffuser. Brake cooling is handled e cooling is handled by those NACA ducts punched into the by bonnet, which create tumbling air vortices eate tumbling air v that draw fast-moving air into the scoops, that dr overcoming a problem of early recessed ecessed scoop designs where they could only draw in scoop designs wher relatively slow-moving boundary layer air. elati

Thereís a pair of three-part turning vanes Ther ead of the front tyres that reduce drag and ahead of the fr d turbulent air down the underside of send turbulent air do side of ar outboard of the diffusers. The wider the car outboar he wider guards and sculpted front wheels direct front guar air onto the broader sill extensions, which generate maximum downforce immediately ahead of the rear arches.

AIR FORCE

Get in line, hot-shoe h

Although Porsche Australia is at pains to stress that this is a low-production volume model and not a limited edition, youíll need to be a very good Porsche customer and pretty quick on the draw to land one of the low double-digit build slots that have been earmarked for Down Under. Production will continue for another 12 months before this generation car is superseded by a new model. Local importers are keen to land additional allocation, but itís by no means guaranteed.

The light touch

Lightweight fixed-back seats are constructed from carbonfibre shells, use magnesium fixings and come trimmed in a combination of leather and microfibre. They do restrict access to the area behind, where the rear seats usually are; if this is an issue you can spec more conventional sports seats with folding backrests, but would you, really? Then there are the previously RS-specific fabric door pulls, now shared with the Carrera T, but are at least another touch not offered in that lowly stablemate, the GT3.

Mezger Out, Mader In

The legendary Mezger engine that was last seen in the 997 GT3 RS 4.0 has been replaced by something even more special in the 991. Thomas Maderís business card simply reads ĎProject Manager GT Road Car Enginesí but his CV is pure racer, having worked on Audiís Le Mans and DTM engines. Heís built a masterpiece of an engine and he reckons thereís more to come from it, possibly lifting the redline on future variants to 9500rpm like the Cup race cars. Forced induction on a GT3? That may well be a little way off yet.

The integrated rear spoiler does most of the aerodynamic donkey work at the back, kicking inefficient vortices way behind the car, while the rear wing can be adjusted through four steps of -1, +1, +3 and +5. The underbody diffusers help reduce body pitch at speed, improving stability under heavy braking.

You feel this on track. The big braking zones at the end of the straight and into the Dunlop curve feel rock steady, and you can even take liberties in trail braking without setting the tail loose. The front end is mighty, helped by significant revisions to the suspension. That old GT3 RS technique of easing the front end into a corner to feel out its purchase and then having accomplished that, setting to work managing the rear grip post-apex is a thing of the past. This 991.2 feels all of a piece, with far sharper turn-in and superior grip allowing you to pick up the throttle earlier and harder. The GT2 RS in front of us is driving a 2:18s pace Ė about what a factory test driver could manage in a Carrera S absolutely balls out. On the downhill leg, the GT3 RS is sauntering. Itís only on the pull uphill that the turbocharged car makes its additional 132kW felt.

That said, despite its modest uptick in horses over the GT3, this is a phenomenal powerplant. Itís tractable at low revs, but the careening frenzy of revs stampeding between 7500 and the 9000rpm redline is pure racer. The soundtrack builds in layers to a point where you think it has reached its crescendo. Keep your foot in. Thereís another level that elevates the GT3 RS from its lumpenly roadbound rivals to something that feels as if itís escaped from the grid and had number plates hastily slapped on. It somehow manages to feel both spiky and fluid at the same time and the lack of much in the way of discernible flywheel effect makes it devastatingly effective on track. Youíll giddily zing it to each stratospheric upshift in anticipation of the dual-clutch íbox barking an electrifying fusillade of downshifts. It gets my vote as the most thrilling contemporary production sports car engine.

The keenness of its response has been echoed in the way that chassis dynamics have been honed. Porsche has been through the suspension of this car and has, as far as it can, gone on a search and destroy mission for rubber. The elastomer bushings of the old car have been replaced by twenty all-metal uniball bearings, reducing the variables the chassis engineers have to work with and ceding responsibility to the damping.

As youíd expect, all of the electronic systems that control the four-wheel steering, the stability control, transmission logic and the torque vectoring have been recalibrated and optimised to accommodate the additional effects of the improved aero package.

In case you really wanted to pare weight out of the car, the optional $34,390 Weissach pack saves 16.5kg and swaps the magnesium roof panel for a carbonfibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) item, while the bonnet is also CFRP, as are the front and rear anti-roll bars and coupling rods. You also get a CFRP rear wing and mirror shells and six-point harnesses.

Model Porsche 911 GT3 RS (991.2) Engine 3996cc flat 6, dohc, 24v

Max power 383kW @ 8250rpm

Max torque 470Nm @ 6000rpm

Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch

Weight 1430kg 0-100km/h 3.2sec

Economy 12.8L/100km

Price $416,500

On sale Now, first deliveries Q4 2018

Throw another $7600 Porscheís way and theyíll take further weight out of it by swapping out the no-cost option steel roll cage for a titanium item. Or you could tack $21,590 to the bill and get the car with Porsche Carbon Composite Brakes, which are 50 percent lighter than their steel equivalents. Optional magnesium wheels that save 11.5kg are due in February.

In July, an even grippier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup R tyre will be made available as an option. As you might well have figured out by now, there probably wonít be any Aussie GT3 RS cars leaving the Porsche dealers at the flat $416,500 price before on-roads.

Yes, itís an evolutionary model but, as weíve seen, evolution sometimes takes rapid leaps forward. Itís the product of incremental gains or, as Andreas Preuninger says, ď11,000 parts made to feel like one.Ē If youíre one of the lucky few to get a slot, youíll have landed possibly the finest sports car for sale at any price.