Porsche’s new GT3 R is a turn-key race car you can buy*
Things that are generally easy: sitting on the couch. Having a relaxed brunch with friends. Sleeping in. Falling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole and winding up reading about Chinese paddlefish. Er, just us then.
But in no way, by any stretch of imagination, perception or indeed reality, could you ever call endurance racing easy. The giveaway’s in the endurance part, surely. Which is probably why Porsche’s new GT3 R – despite being custom-designed to win literal tests of endurance – doesn’t seem to be focusing on going faster so much as helping its drivers go faster.
The ‘old’ GT3 R was already a fairly potent bit of kit – wins at 24-hour events at Daytona, Spa and the Nurburgring aren’t exactly given away – but Porsche says the focus for the new one isn’t more speed, as you might expect. It’s more access to that speed for more people, more of the time. So the aero is more stable, the load on the tyres is less and the power band is wider, meaning that if a driver’s faster in the new GT3 R than the old, it’s because that performance is easier to achieve and maintain. And that, over the course of 24 hours, is surely more welcome than another 50 horsepower.
And it just goes on from there: the ABS has been revised for fewer lockups and longer tyre life, the display is easier to read, the seat is more ergonomic, the safety harness is easier to get on and off, the headlights are now basically floodlights to ease the burden of the long overnight haul... every addition and modification seems to be there only to make life easier for the drivers.
Of course, the new 992-based GT3 R will still be quick; thanks to aluminium-steel composites in the structure and liberal use of carbon fibre inside and out, the entire GT3 R comes in at just 1,250kg. That figure’s subject to change a touch (what with all that Balance of Performance stuff endurance racing goes on with) but with a 4.2-litre, 557bhp flat-six and that sort of weight, it’s unlikely to hang about.
Getting this sort of power to the wheels falls to a six-speed sequential gearbox (this is racing, after all), with a three-piece carbon clutch and an adjustable mechanical limited-slip diff, while aluminium monoblock calipers (six-pot front, four-pot rear) rein it all back in again, lap after pounding lap.
As per Porsche’s eventual about-face with the road-going 911’s suspension, the GT3 R has double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear, which is something we’re still wrapping our heads around. This is the same company that used torsion bars until 1989, after all. In the GT3 R, the control arms and top mounts are forged aluminium, with the requisite adjustable racing shocks and centrelock wheels. They’re 18-inch wheels, by the way, which does make us wonder something: if an endurance racing car – made to slog around a race circuit for hours at a time, braking to the limits of traction on corner after corner – only 18-inch wheels to cover its brakes... you see where we’re going here, don’t you?
In any case, the 992 GT3 R will be ready to compete from the beginning of next year, which is coincidentally the first year that GT3 racing cars will be eligible to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So, anyone want to send us £500,000 for a tilt at Circuit de la Sarthe next year? No?
Yeah, that would have been too easy.
TEXT Craig Jamieson