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991.2 GT3 RS

Rennsport titans: 991 GT2 RS vs 991.2 GT3 RS

Lambourn, Berkshire, UK. It’s a cloudy yet hot, muggy summer’s day, the mercury creeping into the high 20s by early afternoon. The countryside, booming with life after a soggy winter, is awash with vibrant greens and glorious yellows, vegetation clambering high for the sun above.

However, the most striking shade of green today doesn’t come courtesy of British shrubbery – in fact, it won’t be found in the fields of Berkshire at all. Instead you’ll have to look on the roads cutting through them, the vibrant Lizard green hue adorning those wide, aggressive hips of Porsche’s new
GT3 RS. The ‘Lizard’, as it has affectionately become known as by enthusiasts, storms along an undulating B-road, its low-slung nose glued to the asphalt at the front, its striking wing towering into the sky from behind. Following closely behind is another visually arresting 991: a Miami blue GT2 RS, no less, offering a hot pursuit as it too bobs along, its chassis stubbornly hugging the contours of this bumpy British back route.

Currently the hottest two products from Porsche’s famous GT line, seeing – and hearing – these two 911 Rennsports as they tear through the countryside is one of the most visually arresting sights anyone will have seen for a long time. Boasting gargantuan presence on the asphalt, their rarity (not to mention value) means it won’t be often you’ll see even one of these blue-chip 911s on the public road, let alone both at the same time, side by side.

These are two 991s married by their devotion to delivering the ultimate in modern Porsche performance in focused, lightweight packages, divorced spectacularly in exactly how that performance is administered. It’s 991 GT2 RS v 991.2 GT3 RS – and we’re the first to put these two titans to the test.

Delve a little deeper and you’ll notice the two cars have many similarities in their spec: the most obvious is simply outrageous aero on a super-wide Turbo body. Then there’s a PDK gearbox, an electronic differential and rear-axle steering, not to mention a comprehensive weight-saving program which includes thinner glass, a deployment of different materials and a removal of sound deadening.

But there are key differences too, beginning, of course, with their respective flat sixes. The 4.0-litre unit in the back of the GT3 RS has been carried over from the 991.2 GT3, albeit with revised breathing (in the form of modified intakes and a titanium exhaust) for an extra 20hp, its 520hp total an astonishing feat for a naturally aspirated, six-pot motor. That maximum output is realised at a heady 8,250rpm, though its redline is the headline snatcher, it being a mighty 9,000rpm. This is the first Rennsport to spin all the way up to a full nine grand after the 991.1 was pegged back to ‘just’ 8,600rpm.

The GT3 RS’s engine credentials are mighty, but its Miami blue brother takes things further still – to the tune of 700 maximum horsepower and a ludicrous 750Nm peak twist. The GT2 RS achieves this via alternative means to the atmospheric GT3, bolting bigger turbochargers to the 3.8-litre 9A1 engine found in the 991.2 Turbo S. A remap sees this blown Rennsport achieve what is unprecedented power and torque figures for any road-going 911, ever.

But how do these polarities in power delivery translate on the road? Or do their similarities justifiably pull them together? Most importantly of all, which of these 991 Rennsports offers the most thrilling drive? We had better find out.

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Kevin Estre Flogs the 991.2 GT3 RS Around the Nurburgring

While the GT2 RS might officially rule the roost, its normally aspirated sibling is still the favorite among some. A slightly better balance, stiffer suspension, less weight, and a more tractable engine makes the GT3 RS the favored hardcore track car in some people’s eyes—including a certain YouTuber by the name of
Sebastian Vittel
. Famous BP Driver using a alias, probably not, but still fun to watch.

Mr. Vittel driver owns a GT2 RS himself and is a bonafide petrolhead who drives his RS as it ought to be driven; posting some very impressive times at the Nurburgring. Yet, even a driver of his caliber has a few things to improve upon, so when offered a ride around the ‘Ring in a 991.2 GT3 RS, driven by none other than Kevin Estre, he accepted.

Interestingly, Estre chooses to leave the traction control on, as mentioned here, since it helps preserve the rear tires —a fresh set of Michelin Sport Cup2 N2 in this case. This is sensible, since this is just one of many demonstration laps he took eager passengers on throughout the day. Plus, with Estre’s hyper-aggressive style, the RS’ rear is constantly dancing.

This lively style of driving—bordering on manhandling at times —might take some by surprise. Contrary to common thought on braking in a 911, Estre trailbrakes most everywhere, and in some corners, he makes a double apex. Sometimes it looks like he turns in too early, but he gets so much mid-corner rotation from the car, he’s actually shortening the course through the bend and taking advantage of that traction come exit. Even with traction control enabled and that world-class grip, his style invites a lot of counter-steering, plenty of wheelspin, and those wonderful spikes in the flat-six soundtrack.

The educational lap cost €450 and looks to be worth every single euro. While Estre’s throttle technique might not be applicable to the torquier GT2 RS, this scintillating lap is, at the very least, a serious motivator for an eager driver. Estre demonstrates how committed one can be in a sorted RS, notably at 1:38 and 4:54, and how to push the tires just beyond the limit with precision, conviction, and style.

Braking late and abruptly into the downhill Aremberg (1:38), Estre dials in a delicious bit of oversteer.

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Ride Onboard the 2018 GT3 RS With Mark Webber

Putting a Formula 1 driver in a street car always promises fireworks, and this hot lap with Mark Webber is no different. His talent and composure help showcase the newest RS’ abilities, but also demonstrate how certain drivers are on a level which even the most ambitious amateurs can’t hope to match.

Aside from the Aussie’s expected precision and comfort at speed, a few things about these blistering laps stand out. First, he chooses to leave the gearbox in automatic like the cool customer he is, though he occasionally overrides the software and manually downshifts. You expect a certain ease and detachment from a former-F1 driver, but Webber’s body language looks like he’s driving to church, not putting in a sizzling lap at the Nurburgring F1 circuit.

The Porsche seems perfectly suited for the conditions. For instance, the way the newest RS gobbles curbing with complete stability is simply remarkable. At 1:51 and 3:34, Webber carries incredible entry speed through the curbed chicane, and a sudden snap seems inevitable—yet it never happens.

The few times Webber dials in some corrective lock, he does so to usher the GT3’s nose towards the apex. That mild rotation and the ease with which he both anticipates and catches it are the other striking aspects of the newest GT3 RS. Able to dive in toward the apex with the mildest amount of yaw, the 911 looks near-perfect in the hands of a one of the world’s best.

As he gently steers in (2:25), the rear comes around to meet him.

Even on the brakes, the Porsche seems to possess a level of stability that one wouldn’t always associated with a rear-engined car. Of course, a mild wiggle at the end of the front straight (2:14) is expected, but in technical sections where the 911 is subjected to lots of lateral load while braking heavily, it remains planted underneath him.

Webber checks to see if the camera’s rolling.

Some of that has to do with the innate balance of the GT3 platform, but also the way the car communicates with the driver. When trail braking deeply into Turn 8’s apex (3:10), the Porsche remains incredibly poised. Looking at that first input followed by a slight hesitation, you can see that Webber feels the rear just hinting at breaking away. By straightening the wheel again, he stabilizes the 911 and waits until he can turn without exceeding the rear tires’ capacity. His subtle steering corrections show how much information he’s receiving through the wheel—precisely the sort of feedback needed to balance a car consistently at the limit of adhesion.

Webber checks to make sure his passenger isn’t ill.

Predictably, traction is immense and the Porsche simply fires out of corners like it’s outfitted with four-wheel drive, which is something considering the 4.0-liter’s mid-range wallop. Even with all these assets brought together in one cohesive package, the RS’ performance cannot compare to the LMP1 machinery Webber’s familiar with, but the road car’s frantic pace is more than most mortals can handle. Occasionally, the casual, questioning thumbs up he throws at his passenger reminds us he was one of F1/WEC’s most empathetic drivers, and one that still hasn’t lost any speed.

 
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Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS: first drive verdict

Precision. That was the development goal with the new GT3 RS. You can’t have missed it, the Lizard Green launch colouring hardly retiring. Thing is, you could have written it off, Porsche’s GT department firing out new models at an unprecedented rate, the Gen I car still very fresh in the memory. The huge shadow cast by the GT2 RS is still around, too, so this GT3 RS has got some fighting to do.

Twenty-four seconds covers it, though. That’s how much quicker it goes around the Nurburgring over the old Gen I 991 GT3 RS. Works Porsche Racing Driver Kévin Estre took this new car around that stretch of challenging tarmac in a scarcely believable 6 minutes 56.4 seconds. That. Is. Bonkers.

Looking at the specification it’s difficult to see where the new car gains such an advantage, we’re used to new generations eking out 5-10 seconds, but 24 is night and day. Either Andreas Preuninger has an epic poker face, or he was surprised, too. On two separate occasions up to the launch he told us he was looking at around 7 minutes 5 seconds, with only 1 second or so improvement down to the 20hp the engine gains. There’s 520hp for the record, it basically the same unit as the GT3, only inhaling and exhaling differently via RS specific intake and exhaust systems.

Twenty hp is nothing, but the engine feels different. Faster, more immediate, more, damn it, precise. That’s true of every element of the GT3 RS’s make-up, the PDK shifting even more quickly, the electronic differential, the steering – both front and rear-axle systems, all having been finessed to create a greater unity. The suspension is key, it’s basically that of the GT2 RS, which means hugely increased spring rates, solid mountings, yet softer dampers and sway bars.

It’s the chassis that’s so revelatory, a racecar set-up that’s devastatingly effective on the road, bringing it riding with supple composure that’s remarkable, and control that’s unerring. It’s unfiltered and pure, without the interfering compromises in its predecessors that would ultimately demand that you wind back the speed. The steering is crisp, quick and perfectly weighted, the front axle so sharp, the rear faithful, too.

That the chassis is mated to such an intoxicating, screamer of an engine and rapid-fire transmission only enhances the whole, allowing its performance to be fully exploited. This is RS nirvana, and a remarkable, genuinely surprising step-change over its predecessor. Nobody ever called that a dull, uninvolving, slow car, and it isn’t, it’s just that the new one is better in every single way, demonstrably so. The precision development goal is key, moving the RS to a new level, 24 seconds to be precise. Like the specification though, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about how it feels, and this new RS feels little short of sensational.

For the full report and your most comprehensive first drive verdict anywhere in the world, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 166, in shops May 16th.

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Total 911 issue 152 on sale now

As we all know, there are many great models of 911 making up the fabric of the Neunelfer’s rich tapestry. However, some get more exposure than others, and when it comes to eras of 911 Turbo in particular, enthusiasts are quick to mention the recent good fortunes – in terms of values – of both the inexorable 993 and value-for-money 996. Meanwhile, the 997 Turbo, including both Gen1 and Gen2 cars, is largely forgotten about. Until now.

That’s because in the new issue 152 of Total 911, out now, we’ve taken a close-up look at why the 997 Turbo’s stock is set to rise, with ownership secrets and a Gen2 buyer’s guide to help you get into a good example of arguably the best-ever era of 911 Turbo. We also sample the modifying potential of the Gen1 997, pitting a 550hp car against Porsche’s current 991.2 Turbo S.

Elsewhere in issue 152, we’ve a double dose of Martini magic for you, first testing an incredible, road-legal version of the Le Mans Turbo RSR 2.1, before embarking on a road trip in a gorgeous SC complete with optional factory Martini decals as we sample the generation that saved the 911 from extinction.

We also delve behind the restricted gates at Weissach to bring you a definitive history of Porsche’s secretive research and development centre, plus there’s a mouth-watering twin test as the Turbo takes on the C4S in the battle of the 996 wide bodies.

To read all of this and much, much more, pick up Total 911 issue 152 in stores today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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