Thursday, June 23, 2011

Porsche 911 GT3

The Porsche 911 GT3 is a high performance version of the Porsche 911 sports car. It is the latest in a long line of high performance models, beginning with the 1973 911 RS. The GT3, named after the FIA GT class for which it was intended, has a 3.6 litre naturally-aspirated six cylinder engine, based on the unit used in the Porsche 962 and Porsche 911 GT1 race cars.

Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
A number of variations, designed for both road and track, have been added to the range since its launch in 1999. The current range (997) includes two road and three racing models. In addition to this, Porsche is currently developing a hybrid version that uses two electric motors and a Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, was initially developed for Formula One.

The GT3 has had a successful racing career in the one make national Porsche Carrera Cup series, the international Porsche Supercup, and also winning numerous championship and endurance races, including the GT class of the American Le Mans Series seven times, the 24 Hours of Daytona outright and the 24 Hours Nürburgring five times.
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3
Porsche 911 GT3

Engine and transmission

The engine of the GT3 sets it apart from most of the other 996 models although it shares the same basic 3.6 liter displacement of the standard 996 type so-called "integrated dry-sump" flat-six engine. Along with those of the GT2 and Turbo, it is actually based on the original air-cooled 911's versatile, true dry-sump crankcase, with an external oil tank. The original version of the GT3 had 360 PS (265 kW; 355 hp), compared to the 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp) of the regular 996.

In GT3 configuration, this so called "split" crankcase (meaning the parting line of crankcase is on the crankshaft centerline) uses, instead of a fan and finned cylinders, separate water jackets added onto each side of the crankcase to cool banks of three cylinders with water pumped though a radiator. Thus, the GT3 engine is very similar to the completely water cooled 962 racing car's engine, which is also based on this same crankcase. The 962 differs, however, by using 6 individual cylinder heads while the GT1/GT3, like the air and water cooled Porsche 959, uses 2 cylinder heads, each covering a bank of 3 cylinders. The GT3 engine could thus also be thought of as similar to a 959 engine, but with water-cooled cylinders.

Up to early model year 2004 GT3 production, the basic casting used for the crankcase of the GT3 was exactly the same as the air-cooled engine and one could see the "964" casting number on the bottom of the crankcase and areas normally machined in the air-cooled application that are not machined for use in the water-cooled application. The crankcase casting was changed in mid-2004 to a "996" casting number crankcase to eliminate these external air-cooled remnants, but internally it is the same.

This engine gives the GT3 a distinct racing heritage that dates back to the Porsche 904/6 of the mid-60's, up to the Carrera Cup and 997 Super Cup and RSR racing cars of today.

Because the 911 air-cooled crankcase uses the Porsche 356 engine to transmission mounting flange configuration, the GT3 uses a manual gearbox also of air-cooled 911 heritage. This gearbox has interchangeable gear ratios and is more durable making it more suitable for racing than the standard 911 type 996 gearbox.

At 450 hp (336 kW), the 3.8 litre flat-six engine in the 997 GT3 RS is the most powerful six cylinder naturally aspirated engine in any production car with a 118 hp (88 kW) per liter output.



Due to the absence of the official Porsche team in the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, only privateers with the nearly obsolete air-cooled 993 GT2 Turbo were expected to represent the marque, with few chances to beat the Chrysler Viper for GTS class honors. Yet, two new race versions of the water-cooled 996 GT3-R showed up, officially entered in the GT class by private teams, but the drivers involved and Porsche engineers in the pits indicated that it was an effort backed by the company. Even though these were the least powerful cars in the event, being the only entrants in the GT class, the new GT3-R was noticed by fans for its loud exhaust sound when driving in 1st gear through the pitlane, comparable to ex-Formula One engines of Judd. The better of the two cars, entered by the German Manthey Racing team, finished 13th overall, beaten by only two of the Vipers from the faster GTS class.


The 996 GT3-R were made available to privateer teams. In the 24 Hours Nürburgring of the year 2000, a factory-backed effort of the local Phoenix team managed to beat the Zakspeed Chrysler Viper that dominated this race from 1998 to 2000. The improved 996 GT3-RS version of 2001 was entered in countless races in the years to follow, scoring not only many class wins, but also overall wins at Daytona and Spa in 2003. In 2004, the 996 GT3-RSR was made available, with numerous improvements to the RS, including a sequential gearbox, which allows for faster gearshifts.
[edit] 997 GT3

The Porsche 997 GT3 RSR has a dry weight of 1,220 kg (2,690 lb) and 450 bhp (336 kW; 456 PS). This is a disadvantage in both power and weight against fellow competitors Ferrari and Corvette, but the rear engine in the Porsche helped the acceleration and traction which fires the car out of corners at a very fast pace. In 2007 Porsche had also installed front air louvers that channel air into the radiators and exit through the bonnet. This helps handling in the cars, but once a GT3 RSR follows another car, the louver's use is immediately negated and the car will experience substantial understeer in the front wheels due to all the weight being concentrated in the rear of the car. For 2011 Porsche added splitters to the front and increased the tyre diameter to cope with the understeer problem. So far the GT3 RSR has been the most successful GT car ever.
2010 Porsche 997 GT3 R at the Autosport International Show 2010.

The following race versions were or are offered:

* 1999 996 GT3-R
* 2000 996 GT3 Cup
* 2001 996 GT3-RS
* 2004 996 GT3-RSR - with sequential gear box
* 2005 997 GT3 Cup
* 2007 997 GT-3 RSR
* 2008 997 GT3 Cup S
* 2010 997 GT3 Cup
* 2010 997 GT3 R

Apart from numerous class wins, the GT3 won major events overall:

* 24 Hours Nürburgring in 2000, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
* 24 Hours Spa in 2003, 2010
* 24 Hours of Daytona in 2003

Also, at the Nürburgring, the GT3-RS and modified versions (with 3.9 litre engine) win many VLN races.

The various national Porsche Carrera Cup series, and the international Porsche Supercup which is mainly run at Formula One events, also use the GT3 Cup.
[edit] VLN

In 2005, the new 997-generation racing vehicles began to debut with the GT3 Cup, and was followed by the launch of the 911 GT3-RSR at the 2006 Spa 24 Hours. In VLN endurance races at the Nürburgring in 2007, the new car had teething problems, and the wide rear fenders reduced top speed. Yet, the Manthey entry won the last 4h race before the 24h event, and managed to win the big event also. Their Porsche 997 GT3 RSR is slightly different to the ones being delivered to other series; boasting a larger front splitter, taller rear wing and a 500bhp 4.0L Flat-6 engine.

Manthey is the favourite Porsche team in the 24h race. The driving squad of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Marcel Tiemann won for 4 consecutive years from 2006 to 2009. In 2008 they won after suffering from a leaky radiator early in the race which dropped them back 1 lap. The winner came from 1 lap down to nearly 2 laps ahead.

As a consequence of the 2009 air restricter regulations, the RSR loses 70bhp. This brings the pace of Manthey on par with the multiple factory-supported Audi R8. Manthey was still able to outlast all the competitors to take their 4th win.

In 2010 the Manthey GT3 qualified 8th but was able to take 1st on the grand prix track alone. The car started to build the usual lead until a backmarker collided with the car and had to be retired.
[edit] 24 Hours of Le Mans

Porsche dominated the GT/N-GT class at Le Mans after winning the 1998 Le Mans outright. There were no major competitors and Porsche took seven consecutive class wins. In 2006 the Porsches led for much of the race but one by one the competitors hit problems and withdrew. Last minute mechanical issues threw the Seikel car back behind the surprising winner Panoz.

2007 saw the debut of the 997 GT3 RSR. IMSA Matmut took pole by more than a second over the Ferrari (but lost it after breaching Parc Fermee rule). The new Porsche was now fitted with wider rear tyres and bigger restrictors than the rules allow. This is compensated by the car weighing 100kg more. The Porsche now stood at 1220kg and 485bhp. This was an advantage at Le Mans over the lighter and nimbler F430.

2008 is a carbon-copy of the 2006 race with Panoz emerging as the surprising winner after Porsche and Ferrari entrants fell down. Porsche was still able to maintain the status as the quickest GT2 car out there despite new restrictor regulations bringing the power down the 465bhp.

In 2009 the Porsche was restricted even further to 450bhp. ALMS entrant Flying Lizard started on pole again, although losing it immediately to the Risi Ferrari. The #70 Felbermayr-IMSA example ran out of fuel as the reserve tank switch failed. IMSA and Flying Lizard then led GT2 for a while until both collided at Indianapolis. IMSA retired on the spot and the Flying Lizard car underwent substantial repair, losing time and any hope for victory.

2010 was the year that Porsche finally lost their pole-winning streak. The drivers of the #77 car now claimed that they were about 0.5 seconds off the pace of the lead Ferrari and Corvette. Corvette, BMW and Jaguar all made their first GT2 appearance. The #80 Flying Lizard was the first to drop out after struggling with mechanical woes all week. The #77 Felbermayr Porsche then concentrated on keeping a close distance to the lead battle between Ferrari and Corvette. Risi retired at 1am due to a gearbox failure. The #64 Corvette had build a 2-lap lead over the #77 Felbermayr car. Later in 8am an aggressive pass by the #1 Peugeot cause the Corvette to spun and crashed. The car was repaired and went back out again but had to stop due to internal engine damage. This left the #77 Felbermayr-Proton in the lead, 2 laps over the Hankook Ferrari. The Porsche held on to that position and took the GT2 class victory, Porsche's 98th class and overall victory at Le Mans.
[edit] Le Mans Series

Felbermayr-Proton and IMSA-Matmut received the new 997 just before the 2007 season. Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz share the better of the two Felbermayr cars. Patrick Pilet and Raymond Narac share the IMSA car.

Felbermayr-Proton won the championship in both 2009 and 2010 after finally being able to fend off the JMW Ferrari. AF Corse Ferrari later became their opponent but the Prospeed Porsche also joined the series after the demise of the FIA GT. At Spa the Felbermayr Porsche benefited from a 2-lap advantage due to perfect safety car timing but then lost one when a full-course came out when the #77 was still stuck in pit lane. 5th in class at Silverstone was enough for the Felbermayr Porsche to clinch the championship.

2011 did not kick off well for the Porsche teams due to a very controversial situation involving the Audi pace car. The pace car did not pull off when the lights turned green. The prototype field saw his mistake and slowed down abruptively. Thanks to a hump on the straight at Paul Ricard, the GT field could not reach fast enough. All three GTE-Pro Porsches (Felbermayr, IMSA and Prospeed) retired on the spot and handed the race to Ferrari.
[edit] American Le Mans Series

Flying Lizard and Tafel Racing were the first American customers of the Porsche. Both teams took delivery prior to the 2007 season. Flying Lizard took 2nd in the Sebring 12 Hours when a move in the final turn by the Risi Ferrari pushed the #45 Porsche to the outside. Bergmeister chased Melo down and made the pass out of turn 16 on the final lap until the controversial incident happened. Flying Lizard lost the 2007 championship to Risi Competizione.

Porsche avenged their loss at Sebring in 2008 by taking a Flying Lizard Motorsports 1-2. The team went into a battle with Tafel Racing (now switched to Ferrari) all season long until Flying Lizard emerged out on top. The team won four GT2 victories in the season.

Flying Lizard won the 2009 championship again after a hard-fought season. The #45 was damaged at Sebring when the Panoz had to swerve in on the front straight. The team scored 5 consecutive victories after Sebring and held onto the championship lead. A controversial race end to the 2009 Laguna Seca prevailed. Magnussen in the Corvette chased Bergmeister's lead from 14 seconds to a car length. The #45 Porsche's tires was already worn out completely as a result of double-stinting. Magnussen tried numerous attempts to get pass, which one did succeeded after Magnussen went into pit-out. He was forced to relinquish the spot back to Bergmeister immediately. Bergmeister drove defensively just to be hit hard by Magnussen coming out of the final corner. Bergmeister drove Magnussen lef to the pit wall and the Corvette subsequently spun and crashed on the right side of the track. The #45 won by just a second ahead of the destroyed #3 Corvette.

Flying Lizard only won the drivers champion in 2010 after even more GT2 newcomers from BMW and Jaguar eroded Porsche's dominance. the GT2 class was now full of manufacturer presence. Flying Lizard won 4 class victories but the strength in the opponents begun to expose the team's weaknesses. While Ferrari, BMW and Corvette field 2 cars with equally professional experience, only the #45 at Flying Lizard was the professional crew, while the #44 did not have the level of driver skill to fight for the championship. This flaw helped BMW to win the teams championship but the #45 of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister were able to clinch their 3rd consecutive drivers champion, revealing the strength of the drivers in the #45 car.

2011 did not begin well for Flying Lizard. The cars finished 6th and 7th at Sebring, while the #45 retired altogether at Long Beach due to a suspension failure.
[edit] FIA GT Championship

Prospeed Competition was the main Porsche representative in the FIA GT Championship. However they faced the multiple Ferrari entrants and did not win a race in the 2007 season. 2008 saw a slight improvement with wins being scored at Monza and Nogaro by the #61 Prospeed car but the team came home only scoring half the total amount of points that AF Corse did. The 2009 season saw 4 GT2 victories by the #60 Prospeed Porsche and a controversial driver change put Emmanuel Collard out and Marco Holzer in the car to maximize Porsche's chance of winning the championship. Richard Westbrook clinched the GT2 drivers' title but Prospeed lost to AF Corse in the teams standings by 18 points.

In 2010 the FIA GT Championship was splitted and the GT1 cars will now have their own world championship. Originally the FIA proposed a European-based GT2 series but the plan was scrapped after all GT2 entrants opted to enter the Le Mans Series instead. The championship would be turned into an FIA GT2 European Cup with only 1 round at the 24 Hours of Spa. The GT2 winner of the event would then win the cup, even if they didn't win overall.

The 2010 Spa 24 Hours saw the usual Porsche entrants; Prospeed Competition, IMSA-Matmut and BMS Scuderia Italia. The fir st 2 teams fielded both GT2 and GT3 versions of the 997 GT3. The GTN-class BMW led and benefited from a collision which involved the #2 GT2 Ferrari and #50 GT3 Audi. The #79 BMW continue to led 1 lap ahead of the Porsche teams until suspension problems with only half an hour remaining threw the BMW back into 3rd place. BMW Scuderia Italia won with the IMSA entrant chasing them. Muehlner Motorsport Porsche also won the GT3 class after the Audis retired. Romain Dumas won Le Mans in the same year with Audi, and he won this event as well.

Prospeed Competition and Muhelner Motorsport were the main Porsche teams in the FIA GT3 Championship. Prospeed were able to clinch second in the the 2010 championship behind the Callaway Corvette.

911 GT3 R Hybrid

The new Porsche 997 GT3 R Hybrid made its debut at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. The hybrid technology featured in the car was developed by the Williams Formula One Team and is based on their F1 Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) which they did not race in 2009. Unlike other KERS that were developed for F1, the Williams system is based on using kinetic energy stored in a flywheel rather than batteries. The GT3-R has two electric motors, each developing 80 brake horsepower (60 kW), driving the front wheels to supplements the 480 brake horsepower (360 kW) four-litre flat-six engine at the rear. It is planned to enter the car in the 2010 24 Hours Nürburgring. As part of the build up to the 24 hour race the GT3 Hybrid made its racing debut at the VLN 4 hour endurance 57th ADAC Westfalenfahrt at Nürburgring on March 27, 2010. On May 28, 2011, it won its first VLN race.

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