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  Porsche 997 GT3 RSR
 

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Country of origin:Germany
Produced from:2006 - 2007
Numbers built:35 to be built in the 2006/2007 winter
Internal name:997
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 29, 2007
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Click here to download printer friendly versionShortly after the company's conception in 1948, Porsche has been involved in motor racing for many decades. They started out with production based cars that were only able to fight for class wins and gradually worked their way up, culminating in the manufacturer's first 24 Hours of Le Mans win in 1970. In the following 28 years, the Germans won another fifteen times, but after the 1998 win abruptly ended their direct motorsport involvement and instead focused on developing a series of new models including the controversial Cayenne SUV. It proved an essential move for the future of the company and within a decade, the once ailing manufacturer has grown out to become one of Germany's healthiest companies.

Fortunately Porsche did not completely shut the motorsports department, which was commissioned late in 1998 to produce a new GT racer derived from the newly launched 996 series of 911s. It was intended to be raced by privateers in the GT3 class, making it eligible for all the major series and of course Le Mans. For homologation purposes there a road going version, the 996 GT3, was also produced. The 996 GT3 R first hit the track in 1998 and as they say; the rest is history. Together with the GT3 RS and GT3 RSR derivatives, the Porsche 996 reigned supreme for many years, taking seven Le Mans class wins in a row. Another highlight was the overall win in the 2003 Spa 24 Hours against much faster GT1 cars. It must be said that the fastest privateers did receive factory backing in the form of Works drivers and technical support

By 2006 the competition had finally caught up and the old 996s were clearly struggling to keep up. A road going GT3 model of the new '997' road car was announced early in 2006, but it would take another couple of months before the next generation Porsche GT racer would break cover. The name GT3 was carried over, even though the class was now known as GT2, after it had also been known as N-GT and just GT in the 996 GT3's life span. Not yet fully homologated the 997 GT3 RSR was first used in the Spa 24 Hours, where it was forced to run in the G2 class. Although both cars survived the lengthy endurance race to finish first and second in class, the Manthey Racing entered machines did suffer from a series of teething problems. There was time to iron out these bugs as the new GT3 RSR was only expected to be fully homologated for the 2007 season.

With the rules only allowing minimal modifications, the 997 GT3 RSR shares most of its components with its road going counterpart. The most visible difference is the aero kit, topped off by a large rear wing. According to Porsche, the new car is seven percent more efficient than its predecessor. To increase the handling characteristics, wider wheels and bigger engine restrictors are fitted than allowed by the rules, which has been compensated by increasing the weight with 100 kg to 1225 kg. Porsche figured this would provide for a better overall package. The engine has grown in size to 3.8 litres from the 996's 3.6 and with the 30.3 mm restrictors fitted, it is good for a hefty 485 bhp. It is mated to a new six speed sequential gearbox that shares many of its major components with the 'box in the RS Spyder prototype racer.

Now fully homologated, the 997 GT3 RSRs first appointment was the 2007 Sebring 12 Hours where it immediately met up with the seasoned Ferraris F430s and Panoz Esperantes. After a thriller of a finale, the White Lightning GT3 RSR was kept from a debut win with the smallest of margins possible. Two weeks later during the official Le Mans Series test session at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track, the 997 GT3 RSR again showed its potential by clocking the fastest GT2 time of the weekend. The four 997s entered at Paul Ricard are pictured above.

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