Porsche's new 911 GT3 R Hybrid completed its competition debut this weekend with a sixth-place finish. The new hybrid racer was fielded by the Manthey Racing team with factory support from Porsche. Defending American Le Mans Series driver's champ Joerg Bergmeister was joined in the hybrid 911 by Richard Lietz and Martin Ragginger as the team got used to the all-wheel-drive car in preparation for the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in May.
The 911 uses an electro-mechanical flywheel energy storage system to drive a pair of electric motors attached to the front wheels. When braking, those motors generate electricity that spins up an integrated flywheel-motor-generator. Spinning at 40,000 rpm, the flywheel can release the electrical energy back to front motors on demand. The system was developed by the Williams Formula One team and licensed to Porsche.
According to Porsche spokesmen Steve Janisse and Andy Schupak, the automaker is in discussions with the American Le Mans Series about bringing the 911 hybrid to North America. There are regulatory differences between the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship, the ACO, and ALMS, which would require adjustments to the car. If the 911 performs well in the 24-hour race in May and the technical rules can be worked out, Janisse says that Porsche would like to have the car run at least one or two races here later this year, including Petit Le Mans.
Stuttgart. A successful weekend for Porsche at the season-opener of the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship: At its race premiere, the new Porsche 911 GT3 R claimed victory, the innovative 911 GT3 R Hybrid debuted with sixth place and Walter Röhrl made his much celebrated comeback after 17 years.
Timo Bernhard (Germany), Marc Lieb (Germany) and Marcel Tiemann (Monaco) are the winners of the first race of the season on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. With the new, 480 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Manthey Racing team, the trio drove a trouble-free race. "It is extraordinary to climb to the top of the podium at the first race ever of a new race car," said a pleased Bernhard. His works driver teammate Lieb added: "It seems the new 911 GT3 R has inherited the reliability of all racing 911." With 14.5 and 3.6 seconds respectively, the three Porsche pilots relegated the best Audi RS and the BMW M3 to finish second and third.
The new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid also gave a promising debut: Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Richard Lietz and the former Porsche Junior Martin Ragginger (both Austria) brought home the white/orange racer with its combustion engine supplemented by two electric motors delivering 60 kW each to the front axle in sixth place after a trouble-free race. "I'm positively surprised how well this car performed already at its first race," said Bergmeister. "We tried many things out during the race and will be busy further developing the hybrid drive for the 24 hour race in May. Our aim is to use less fuel than our competitors without compromising performance," explains Lietz.
Double world rally champion Walter Röhrl (Germany) made his much applauded racing comeback after 17 years. Sharing driving duties with Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch (Germany) and Chris Harris (Great Britain) he put the standard 450 hp Porsche 911 GT3 R through a test under race conditions. "The car exceeded my highest expectations and I had a great time at the wheel," enthused Röhrl. "We were able to match the pace of thoroughbred race cars. The 911 GT3 RS was particularly sensational in fast corners and under braking. And the best thing is, if it wasn't so far tonight I could just put our number plate on the car and drive back to Bavaria without a problem."
Round two of the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship takes off on 10 April at midday with a duration of four hours.