Porsche RSR - Is this really a 911?

Porsche has ditched the engine over the rear axle to compete with Ford in the WEC. But is it a 911?

No, it is isn't. In the same way that I would look a bit like a racing driver if you wrapped me in a race suit and crash helmet. Of course, if you then made me race a car, it would quickly become clear that what lies underneath is not a racing driver.

Those who follow the WEC and sportscar racing in general will know the storied history of the 911 in GT racing. The rear engine is well known for having a very different driving style to other cars on the grid and particularly for the traction out of corners and in the wet.

Then the Ford GT turned up, with a carbon body prototype and no production cars before it swept all before it at the Le Mans 24 hours this year. Ford subsequently started making the road cars, but the arms race has clearly escalated and in order to keep up, Porsche has done the unthinkable and moved the engine to in front of the rear axle.

I can hear 911 fans and purists the world over scream that it is not a "proper" 911. However, they have done this before, as the 911 GT1 of the late-90s proved that Porsche are willing and able to break with tradition in the pursuit of victory. That car had nothing to do with the road car and they made a limited run of 25 vehicles to meet the regulations of the time. That was the era of homologation specials, with the Mercedes CLK GTR and the Toyota GT1.

This shift has caused Porsche to look to even the playing field, even if it means some will call it an imposter. To do so would ignore the reality of modern GT racing, in that they are no longer a road car that can be driven home after the race. The sport today is all about getting the tyres to work for you and therefore weight distribution is key. This is what Porsche had in mind when whey made this change.

What do we want: to have the right performance or to do the same as we’ve always done? It was very clear – we want a successful race car.

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President of Motorsport at Porsche

Whether or not you think it is a 911, it certainly is a good looking beast and when it comes to any GT3 and GTE cars these days, they are simply silhouettes of their road car siblings. This latest iteration follows this trend. The new engine position allowed the engineers to create a new rear diffuser and this will have a dramatic effect on the downforce they can achieve - akin to LMP1. The suspension is also different to the road car

Its bristling with technology too, including collision warning radar to the rear of the car - perfect for spotting an LMP1 or LMP2 that is bearing down on them. Perhaps something Ferrari should consider for their AM cars perhaps?

What do you think?

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