You may think there’s little Porsche can do to its famed 911 to make it even more hardcore. The Stuttgart-based engineering firm has pumped out wild versions of its figurehead sportscar over the past decades featuring ever so slightly increased levels of race breeding. However, Porsche is no-holds-barred in its most recent approach to homologated customer cars. In fact, for the first time, the Porsche 911 GT3 R will be eligible to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2024.
Creating the most capable Porsche 911 ever
Over the last four seasons, the outgoing 911 GT3 Cup dominated the GT3 Series, scoring victories at nearly every track in Europe and North America. Based on the current 992 generation, Porsche prioritized its successor car by improving drivability, widening the performance band, streamlining handling, and reducing the running costs for teams and customers.
“Our task was less about making the new 911 GT3 R even faster,” said Porsche Motorsport Project Manager Sebastian Golz in a company press release. “For us, it was primarily about our customers being able to drive the racing car fast for longer.”
Wide, naturally-aspirated power band
While Porsche remains content in mounting their flat-six powerplant in the back, it’s now counted forward by 5.5 degrees to allow for a larger rear underbody diffuser. That’s not all, however. The water-cooled 4.0-liter is punched out to 4.2 liters and now puts down 565 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque. Depending on the type of Porsche Balance of Performance (BoP) classification, the GT3 R can weigh as little as 2,755 lbs (1,250 kg). That gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 410 horsepower per ton.
The change in displacement widens the power and torque bands for more direct-injected, naturally-aspirated grunt across the rev range that goes all the way to 9,250 rpm. Porsche says this is “better suited to gentleman drivers.” Alternatively those with pockets deep enough to purchase an FIA GTE category homologated race car.
Keeping the Porsche 911 GT3 R on the ground
The engineers at Porsche Motorsport worked tediously to have a near-perfect weight distribution by moving the A/C compressor and alternator in front of the engine to complement the lightweight, aluminum-steel composite and carbon fiber body. To ensure customers have control while they paddle shift the lightning-fast six-speed PDK, much attention was placed on the car’s aerodynamics.
Created by long-time Porsche Exterior Designer Grant Larson, the stunning styling emphasizes the 911’s heritage with modern, sophisticated efficiency. The GT3 R features a wheelbase 1.89 inches (48mm) longer than the previous model. It also features a smooth undertray in the middle of an elevated underbody in front of the front axle, and a rear diffuser to increase negative lift. The improvements in downforce are bolstered by the swan-neck mounted rear wing, which lessens the car’s drag coefficient.
Managing tire wear
Managing tire wear is one of the most critical design cues for the 911 GT3 R. Much of the suspension was lifted from the 911 RSR, including its front double wishbone architecture and rear multi-link design.
Yet, the KW shock absorbers were redesigned to offer five-way adjustable settings. Although dialing in a race car may not be in the wheelhouse of some gentleman racers, the shocks can be precisely adjusted without a time-consuming re-alignment for different tracks.
Bosch’s Generation 5 anti-lock brake system (ABS), stiffer springs, and enhanced dampening capabilities also work seamlessly to protect tire wear. Moreover, precise control in the corners through the GT3 R’s electro-hydraulic power steering helps tire consistency over longer stints on the track.
Le Mans-derived interior
While customers can revel in how their Porsche factory race car looks, the excitement will continue when they’re seated in the FIA-compliant six-bolt carbon racing seat, positioned closer to the car’s center.
The 10.3-inch Porsche color display— adopted from the Le Mans class winner—is tucked into the carbon fiber-trimmed dash just behind the quick-release carbon fiber steering wheel that features all the bells, whistles, and buttons for use on the race track without having to take away your hands.
Porsche took an uncompromising approach to safety. In addition to an FIA-rated roll cage, there is increased side impact protection, a removable roof rescue hatch, improved cockpit ventilation, and an electronically-controlled fire extinguishing system. There is also a six-point safety harness for use with HANS devices.
Building on past successes to prepare for Le Mans
In creating a Le Mans-eligible customer car to improve on the wildly-successful 911 GT3 Cup, the 2023 Porsche 911 GT3 R is prepared to battle on the world’s race tracks. Porsche states that the predecessor’s successes include overall victories at the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. Customer cars also scored class victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
With such an impressive resume, the second 992-generation racer from Porsche Motorsport will undoubtedly be a worthy contender as gentleman drivers can now line up under the French tricolor to try their skills. Still, it comes at a high price: $505,890 (€511,000).