Barely Legal
evo Singapore|Vol 77 - July-August 2017

The new Porsche 911 GT3 is the closest thing to a racing car that can be driven on public roads. Be careful what you wish for.

Sheldon Trollope

THE WORDS ‘MOTORSPORTS’ AND ‘racing’ are used too casually by so many brands for their road cars that many of us are duped into thinking that we could all be Lewis Hamilton if given the chance to pilot his F1 car. Most of us will never get to drive a proper racing car of course so we may never get to find out if we’re made of The right Stuff or not.

One car that comes as close as you get to experiencing what a real racing machine is like to drive is the Porsche 911 GT3. named after the GT3 racing series, these cars are built by the motorsport division alongside Yuey Tan’s carrera cup racers and the 911 rSr that is raced at Le Mans.

From their very core, the GT3 starts life as a more focused machine than the other 911 variants. Apparently, the car’s weight-saving programme starts from the body-in-white, where reinforcements that would support the rear seat belts for example are omitted and instead there are mounting points designed to accept a roll cage. This is why there is no rear seat option for this two-seater 911.

The latest update of the 911 GT3 codenamed 991.2 is essentially to be more relevant with the latest GT3 cup racing cars. on several occasions throughout the launch, Porsche’s representatives went through lengths to emphasise that the new 4.0-litre flat-six in the GT3 is now exactly the same as the power units of the GT3 cup cars. In the road-going application, the engine is tuned to make 500hp and revs to 9,000rpm – the highest revving street legal production Porsche engine ever.

Contentiously, the other major highlight of the new 911 GT3 is the return of the manual gearbox to this variant. When the 991-generation was launched, Porsche took the decision to fit it with the seven-speed PDK twin-clutch automated gearbox in the name of faster shift times and overall efficiency – besides, the carrera cup cars the GT3 was based on had long since converted to sequential shifters anyway.

Although the GT3 now has a similar displacement, output and if spec’d with the six-speed manual it would seem mechanically identical to the 911R, Porsche assures us that the GT3’s engine has been thoroughly re-engineered, namely with the central oil feed where engine oil is pumped through the crankshaft and a centrifuge that de-foams the oil before it is fed into a separate tank – again, another innovation directly derived from racing cars.

While the move to PDK made the previous model accessible to a new group of customers, the GT3 faithful were outraged by this heresy. The popularity of limited-edition specials like the manual-only 911R proved that there was still a healthy demand for a three pedal GT3 and this time around, Porsche has reintroduced a six-speed manual as an option while the PDK continues to be offered as standard.

When asked about the u-turn, in the gearbox policy, it was explained that Porsche Motorsport, which develops and builds the GT3 as well as the racing cars, simply did not have the time and capacity to develop two transmissions at once. So it decided to focus on the PDK first and this time around, it had time to develop a proper manual gearbox.

Although the 911 carrera models are available with an optional seven-speed manual gearbox, Porsche Motorsport chose to stick with a more conventional six-speed; mainly because it was found to be less prone to miss-shifts when the driver gets busy on a race track. personally, this writer welcomes this move because the optional seven-speed manual doesn’t reward with as sweet a feel as the six-speed unit.

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