The Ultimate Contemporary 911, Falken’s Gt3 Rsr

What’s your favorite brand of car? It seems a simple enough question, but for the petrol head the answer is anything but. While my particular response will probably vary from day to day, the brand most likely to be named would be Porsche. Although I cannot afford to own one (yet), Porsche is a brand that speaks to my ideals; one that places passion in front of making a buck. So what do you get when the winningest racing car maker in the world throws everything they’ve got into a modern GT monster? Well, the 911 GT3 RSR of course.

It seems as if it was only yesterday that Porsche had announced a major update to its iconic ALMS racer, and with the 2012 model year came a whole slew of alterations; many of which are quite obvious visually, which is quite uncharacteristic for Porsche. Yet as I sit here typing this, the 2012 season has come and gone, and with it the Falken Tire Porsche has a full competition year in the books, a year of racing that I was lucky enough to witness some of.

I can still recall the first time I laid eyes on this car, after months of mouth watering anticipation. Strangely it wasn’t at a racing circuit that I first met the car I would inevitable become very familiar with this year. Sadly it wasn’t at Sebring, but rather inside a Porsche dealer in Orange County as part of the pre-race fan festivities ahead of the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Fortunately since that day, which now seems as thought it occurred in another lifetime, I’ve been able to get up close and personal with this beastly nine-eleven. I even somehow managed to beat the odds and fought through some extreme jet lag in order to rise before the sun at Mid Ohio for a very quick photo session. Armed with a camera, a cup of coffee and forty-five minutes of available track time, I set off to do the impossible.

Try as I may, no matter how badly my aching and tired body wishes to loathe the morning, I can’t deny the magic of the day’s first golden hour. With no time to spare I began shooting in the dark, desperately trying to anticipate when and where the sun might come up. Eventually it made its way through the trees, beautifully tracing out the shape of the car; at which time I could fully appreciate how much different this car was compared to the previous year’s model.

It wasn’t just the additional two inches of width that was flabbergasting, it was all the new curves and ducts that they brought with them. The front of the car now featured an uncharacteristically hard-edged-high-shouldered fender with a very abrupt cut  towards the bottom, allowing air to escape from the fender well freely.

With the revised aero package came a new front bumper, with multiple levels of dive planes affixed to it, along with a new front splitter design. However, as intimidating as those bits are, it’s actually the stuff going on behind the facade that you cannot see which is doing a lot of the work.

In fact the amount of engineering that has been put into the ducting system on the RSR is pretty crazy. The car is, in essence, one giant factory from which many vortices are made. While it certainly doesn’t look a far cry away from a road going GT3 on the outside, there is a world of difference beneath the skin.

At first glance, the full-length flat floor board may appear to be carried over from other variations of the GT3 – like the Cup Car which I featured earlier in the year – but aside from sharing a roof line, pretty much everything below it, all the way down to  this plank, is on an entirely different level.

Around the back of the car is where things get really interesting. While I can’t speak to the performance benefits of the new rear tray and its scalloped louvers, they certainly are a stark addition to the rear of the car. The introduction of this component alone was a little shocking when first announced, and I immediately began to conjure images of a DTM / GT500 styled 911…

Once off the car, you can really see what a serious piece of kit this rear diffuser is. Made almost entirely from dry carbon, it has a very complex structure containing ducts for both the brakes and gearbox cooling. With side-pods literally built-in to the top of the diffuser’s edge, this is downforce generation for the twenty-first century.

In hindsight, with the way motorsport technology is developing at a blistering pace, the concept of a single-element rear spoiler seems like quite an antiquated way of deriving downforce, doesn’t it?

Inside the cockpit there are even more space age technologies waiting to be pushed to their limits. Porsche has applied a copious amount of carbon fiber, both inside and out, on the RSR that you’d think it’s going out of style. In 2012 it’s pretty much a given that any race car, even at a privateer level, is going to have some pretty high tech on-board gadgetry, but the ALMS GT field is bursting at the seams with the stuff.

In addition to the typical data logging and computing functions of a race car, these endurance racers have all sorts of additional gizmos like live telemetry, radio, GPS and on-board cameras for the television broadcast of the races. Yet even with all that at hand, the best method for learning your way around a racetrack remains a sicker smack-dab in the middle of the wheel with numbered corners.

Immediately adjacent to the MoTec digital dash are just a few of the driver’s available switches, clearly labeled in plain English of course. Note the plastic gears on the edge of the steering boss which I can only presume are used to record steering input for telemetry… pretty slick.

To the right of the driver is the main switch panel which contains levers responsible for tasks ranging from starting the car to powering the cool suit pump. Sitting directly atop the series of switches is the most vital component inside the car for the driver – the air conditioning vents!

Opposite the driver is a massive carbon fiber coffin which occupies the space typically reserved for a passenger seat. Inside this box lays a complicated series of wire harnesses and electronic boxes, resting in a manner that is anything but peaceful. After getting a good look at the complexity of the wiring scheme it’s no wonder they cover it up with a smooth sheet of carbon!

This weaving sea of wire continues behind the driver, past the fire shield, and into the rear of the car where it connects to even more modules and boxes before finally arriving at the engine and gearbox which they control.

It’s kind of ironic how the staggering amount of technology elsewhere in the car has made the part which is, in most traditional vehicles, normally the most interesting quite boring in comparison – the engine. I suppose it’s partially the fault of the governing bodies as well, since these days the power output is restricted (in this case to 450whp) the engine is simply a tool for racing, like a brake pad or a seat.

That’s not to say, however, that a brake pad or a seat aren’t important items, they’re all part of a team that has to play well together. When it comes to endurance racing it’s all about speed and reliability and under these types of conditions the weakest link in the chain reveals itself quickly. Leaving nothing to chance, the footwork must form the strong foundation which everything else then rests upon.

Like almost everything on the car, the brake package has been scrutinized by the ACO in order to complete what they refer to as “the balance of performance” which ensures fair play across a wide range of competing vehicles. Enormous Brembo calipers and floating rotors in sizes that comply with the rule book are used on each corner, as supplied by Porsche from the factory.

The shock absorbers are ultra-high tech items from ZF Sachs and feature four-way adjustable internal valving. And no, four-way doesn’t mean they have four adjustment “clicks”, it means that there is separate independent high- and low-speed adjustment for both compression and rebound. Perched atop the the bodies is a main spring and a “helper” spring, which ensures that the main spring fully engages its perch under full droop.

Incredibly, every joint on the car uses a precision spherical bearing or a heim joint to ensure minimal slop. While this sort of hardcore setup probably wouldn’t last more than a few months on the street, it’s essential to competing in the highest forms of motorsport like the ALMS GT category.

However there’s unquestionably much more to racing than a part, or even a car. Without the talented people that support and pilot a vehicle, it’s essentially a very large (not to mention expensive) paperweight. After spending several weekends scattered across racing circuits all over the US with the Falken Tire team, I can attest to their commitment to making this car competitive.

When you consider some of the factory involvement from teams like BMW, SRT or the 2012 championship winning Corvette Racing, it’s pretty amazing that a small tire company can buy a 911 and managed to do so much in such a short time. Some of this credit must no doubt also go to the countless men who spent their lives improving the 911 for the last fifty years. I suppose that’s the power of passion and hence, the power of Porsche.

2012 Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

ENGINE

4.0L naturally aspirated aluminum flat-six boxer engine; 28.6mm air restrictors (x2); Porsche Motorsport intake and exhaust systems

DRIVELINE

G97/70 six-speed gearbox with sequential jaw-type shift; triple-plate carbon-fiber clutch; limited-slip differential 45/65 %; adjustable racing traction control

SUSPENSION / CHASSIS

FIA / IMSA certified roll cage; McPherson spring strut axle front suspension, multi-link axle rear suspension; Sachs 4-way adjustable shock absorbers; Eibach springs; adjustable front axle arms (camber); adjustable sword-type sway bars (front/rear); infinitely adjustable rear suspension (height / camber / track)

BRAKES

AP Racing dual master cylinders w/ brake force balance adjustable by bias bar system, floor mounted pedals; Brembo fixed calipers 6 / 4 piston (F/R), two-piece rotors 380mm/355mm (F/R)

WHEELS / TIRES

18X12j/13j (F/R) center-locking mono-block BBS light alloy wheels; 18″ Falken Azenis RT slick racing tires

CABIN

OMP steering wheel, kevlar FIA racing seat;

BODY

2012 RSR carbon/Kevlar aero package including front bumper w/ dive planes, hood, front fenders, rocker panels, rear fenders, carbon ducting, rear spoiler, full flat underbody paneling (front splitter / middle section / rear diffuser), doors, polycarbonate windows, lightweight headlights

PERFORMANCE

450bhp @ 7900rpm / 317lb-ft @ 7250rpm (limited by ALMS)

More Endurance GT coverage on Speedhunters

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More stories by Sean Klingelhoefer on Speedhunters

-Sean

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