Porsche has released details of its updated 911 GT3 R Hybrid – the 2010 original nearly won last year's Nurburgring 24hr race before (ironically) it retired with petrol engine failure.
The 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid – the lowdown
Before this report disappears in a chorus of ‘it looks the same as last year’s one’, let's outline where Porsche’s engineers have been busy. At the unfashionable end of the car remains a 4.0-litre flat-six engine producing approximately 470bhp. Up front are twin electric motors, now producing 75kW of power each (up from 60kW) and combined these give the GT3 R Hybrid a 197bhp electric boost, which can be programmed to activate automatically via the throttle pedal, or manually selected during overtaking.
F1-derived hybrid tech for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid
Power for the two electric motors doesn't come from batteries, but flywheel accumulator technology from Williams Hybrid Power, an offshoot of the Williams Formula 1 team. The flywheel, encased in a carbonfibre safety cell in the space where the passenger seat would be, spins at up to 40,000rpm and acts as a mechanical energy store for the electric motors. Regenerative braking feeds energy back into the flywheel system – no surprises there, as the technology is derived from Williams' exeprience with Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in F1.
GT3 R Hybrid - lighter, brighter and optimised for 24-hour racing
Outside there have been aerodynamic tweaks to that familiar racing 911 form. Improvements to the hybrid system cooling mean the louvers ahead of the rear wheelarch disappear, reducing drag. The car is also 50kg lighter, now weighing in at 1300kg – meaning it's also 70kg less than the roadgoing (and petrol-only) 911 GT3 RS. Porsche has managed to reduce the weight of the hybrid components by 20% too, and although it claims the new racer is no faster than before, it is promised to be more fuel efficient.
The stripped-out interior features a button- and display-laden steering wheel and backlit centre-console buttons, all laid-out for ease of use by the drivers, particularly during night racing. Glowing green headlights mean that rival drivers won’t mistake the GT3 R Hybrid when it’s hunting them down around the Nurburgring at night.
Has the hybrid 911 got much chance of winning on the racetrack?
Definitely. The GT3 R Hybrid was leading the Nurburgring 24-hour race and looking likely for victory in 2010 before retiring due to engine failure less than two hours from the finish. Porsche will be hoping the internal-combustion side of its hybrid racer holds together for the full race distance this year.
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