Porsche might return to WRC as soon as the 2020 season
Rear Wheel Drive Rally Cars? Yes please!
Back in August Porsche made headlines by converting one of it's Cayman GT4 Clubsport race cars into a fully specced rally car, this caused some excitement amongst rally fans. While hatchbacks that currently dominate rally stages are brilliant and insanely fast machines, they've lost some the charm and excitement that came with RWD sports car like Lancia Stratos or the 037.
Back in August Porsche was just testing the water and measuring interest for the new car. Unsurprisingly it had found more than a fair share of attention from fans, but also the teams and drivers. I mean is there really any wonder when it looks and sounds so good?
Now at the L.A Auto Show Porsche’s Motorsport boss, Frank-Steffen Walliser got talking with Top Gear and apart of confirming the huge interested it generated he said the following:
"A demonstrator was purpose built and we got some experience, how to set up and where to put a spare wheel. What to do with tyres, everything. There are already lots of old 911 GT3s competing in the RGT category, but their level of performance means they have to be toned down a little. The GT4 should land just at the right point. We need to sell 100 to get the green light"
Walliser confirmed Porsche's in talks with the FIA about the Cayman competing in the R-GT category, which is dedicated for series production two-wheel-drive GT cars. Currently, the sole two cars in the category are the Abarth 124 R-GT and the Lotus Exige R-GT.
Porsche shouldn't struggle one bit to sell the 100 rally destined GT4s, currently, the FIA runs a 'Technical Passport' program which allows homologating of individual vehicles. This is how the 911 GT3's found their way to the R-GT category and 3 R-GT Cup Championships. Clearly showing that interest in rallying Porsches' is there.
The circuit racing Cayman GT4 has already found some 400 customers and helped to popularise the GT4 category, further supporting its case. Walliser told Andrew Frankel a Goodwood Columnist that if the program were to be approved by the board, it would take "between a year and 18 months to develop the car ", this means we could potentially see Porsche return to the WRC in time for the 2020 season.
It's unclear whether the GT4s' would ever compete as a manufacturer team or solely in customer teams, TopGear who had the chance to speak with Walliser in L.A states that: "it’ll only ever compete in customers’ hands". Meanwhile, Andrew Frankel from Goodwood got the following quote from Walliser “Rallying would be a very good extension to our motorsport portfolio.”, while also saying that "an affordable rally car allows Porsche a competition presence in parts of southern and eastern Europe, South America and Asia it currently lacks.".
So perhaps a factory entry is still on cards, I'm excited either way. While modern AWD hatchbacks achieve some insane performance, but also lost some charm and craziness, personally I would love to see the R-GT category to grow further and become more relevant part of WRC bringing in more manufacturers.
Which GT cars would you like to see come into the WRC? Tell us in the comments below!