The new Porsche 911 RSR is a mid-engined (yes, mid-engined) 911 that’s been designed basically from the ground-up to beat, well, everything it will compete against in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Next year Porsche will field two factory-backed cars in the FIA WEC, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the RSR’s first outing will be at the opening round of the American IMSA Weathertech Championship – the Daytona 24 Hours – in January.
Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser says the RSR “is the biggest evolution in the history of our top GT model”. The suspension, body structure, aerodynamics, engine and transmission are all completely new, making “full use of the breadth of the Le Mans 24 Hours GT regulations”.
The RSR has a N/A 4.0-litre flat-six with up to 510 hp. The 510 figure is so the car falls in line with the expectations put in place by the ACO for its GTE-Pro class and IMSA’s GT Le Mans category. The engine is mounted ahead of the rear-axle. As a result this enabled the designers to enlarge the rear-diffuser, and fit a rear wing derived from the hybrid-powered 919 LMP1 car. The gearbox is a six-speed sequential encased in a magnesium housing, actuated by shift paddles mounted on the wheel.
Porsche has also fitted a collision-warning system to help avoid “misunderstandings” with fast-approaching LMP1 cars, and improved the car’s serviceability by making it easier to remove and replaces vast swathes of the body and suspension.
Inside the cockpit, the 911 RSR sports a brand-new roll cage and its seat, which was among the first to use an adjustable slider when the first racing 911s were introduced, has given way to modern convenience. With the seat now rigidly mounted to the chassis, 911 RSR drivers of all sizes will have the luxury of using an electronically-actuated pedal assembly that can be moved fore and aft to accommodate short or tall pilots.
The 911 RSR underwent 21,000 miles of private testing in North America and Europe in preparation for the 2017 season, and with the relocation of the engine deep within the chassis, enhanced cooling was one of a few key development areas to optimize. The rear window, which rests directly above the motor, has been converted to feed cool air and extract hot air from the engine bay, and at the front of the car, the familiar placement of a heavily canted radiator with central extraction louvers has been retained.
However don’t expect to see a mid-engined 911 on the road anytime soon. “For day to day, rear engine is still the best solution for the space it gives you for back seats,” Walliser explained. “Things like the new generation direct injection system, though, are already making their way onto our GT road cars.”