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Porsche GT2/GT3

Leh Keen Proves the GT2 RS’ Potential With a New Record Lap

Earlier this year, we saw David Donohue wheel the latest GT2 RS around Road America in a sizzling time of 2:15.17 on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires. Last week, IMSA ace and all-around hooligan Leh Keen took another GT2 RS around the four-mile circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and slashed the previous record by a considerable margin.

 

Granted, the comparison isn’t exactly fair. While Donohue’s car was a bone-stock GT2 RS—though likely one of the best of the batch, Keen’s car received a few tweaks to get a little more out of the widely adjustable chassis. Aside from the factory cage and the Manthey water tank for longer fast laps at full power, there are two major changes. This RS benefits from a more aggressive alignment courtesy of 311RS, who’ve modified a few track-spec cars featured on this site, as well as a engine tune from Mitch McKee. The tune reaps an additional 60 wheel horsepower, total 690 at the rear wheels. Truly, this mild package simply maximizes the potential of the factory setup without bringing in many aftermarket parts. With a new set of Cup 2 R tires—likely providing the largest benefit—Keen set out to slash Donohue’s lap by a considerable margin.

And though he did, the ease with which Keen drives this car makes you wonder how. Though still slightly nervous on the brakes, the car looks so much more composed from mid-corner onwards. The corner exit acceleration is hard to fathom—it looks almost four wheel-drive at times, and only once does the break away under acceleration (2:00). When it does, it looks so comfortable and predictable that Keen’s steering inputs are more like those you’d expect from a Sunday drive than a record-breaking lap at one of the fastest road courses in North America. Even when dancing through Turn 10, it looks so casual.

At the end of his first economical lap, Keen crossed the line in 2:12.9—a time which rivals a GT3 Cup Car and bests the fastest non-Porsche production car, a Viper ACR, by seven seconds. Not only hadn’t he needed a warmup lap, he hadn’t even used tire warmers. After that, his times began to worsen, and so they packed it in after a fairly stress-free and straightforward day at the circuit. Of course, it’s never that simple; much headscratching work goes on in wee hours beforehand to get such an encouraging chassis, But it’s fair to say that the preparation this car received made setting a staggering time look easy.

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Porsche’s GT3 RS Is A Great Race Car Right Out Of The Box

Warning: Some profanity in the footage above

Regardless of how much experience a racing driver has, some cars are so sharp-edged they require a sometimes painful period of adjustment. Despite being quite handy behind the wheel of a supercharged S2000 and now an A90 Supra, former formula racer Jackie Ding initially struggles with the 991 GT3 RS at Toronto Motorsports Park. However, he’s a flexible driver who can tailor his style to suit whatever he’s in, and in this series of dramatic laps, we can see he quickly adapts to the demands of one of the sharper 911s around.

A justifiably tentative outlap shows us just how the GT3 RS will let go abruptly and continue to rotate. Cold Michelin Cup 2 tires and a little more pendulum effect at work nearly rotate Ding off the track within a few corners. Quick hands honed from years in formula cars keep him pointed the right way, but it’s an indication of the edgy nature of such a focused car. Ding’s aggressive style gets the car regularly out of shape, but he soon learns he can’t quite take liberties with it like he can with his Honda.

Unlike his S2000, the GT3 RS doesn’t like to be floated sideways through the middle of the corner as much, and he needs to tread carefully. As he describes it, « such a fine line to try and balance on. » A few corners later, he shows just how unforgiving the car is if hustled over the wrong curb (2:27), and soon he’s pointed in the wrong direction. You can’t accuse him of lacking chutzpah, though.

By attacking the curb at a shallower angle and softening his throttle input, he’s able to get the stiffly sprung GT3 RS to rotate perfectly within just a few laps.

After softening some of his inputs, using delicate maintenance throttle over the curbs, and catapulting out of the corner with a little less wheelspin, he whittles his time down to a scarcely believable 1:15.1. For reference, that’s four seconds faster than he could muster in his tuned S2000 wearing Advan A052 tires, which is lighter and arguably better suited to such a tight, technical track. Just take into consideration his lack of experience of the car, and the achievement is all the more impressive. Not only does this demonstrate the GT3 RS one of the most capable track toys around, but Ding’s ability to change his inputs in short time is just as impressive, if not more so.

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Here’s The Fast Way Around Sonoma Raceway In A GT3 RS

One of the advantages of such a color is that it’s easily seen in another driver’s mirrors.

« You need to learn how to drive a slow car fast before you can drive a fast car fast, » says Joe Kou, Spec Miata racer and owner of this GT3 RS. Running in an anemic Miata and focusing on maintaining mid-corner speed obviously pays off in the punchier cars, as we can see here. With that wonderful blend of circumspection and aggression that only an experienced, confident driver can muster, Kou sets a 1:44.8 lap around one of California’s best tracks while demonstrating the Porsche’s numerous strengths.

With great stability at speed, the GT3 RS encourages Kou to lean on its aero grip through Turn 1 (0:24). A tight line, an early lift, and plenty of patience keep him rolling good mid-corner speed through one of Sonoma’s fastest and least forgiving corners. An almost imperceptible dab of the brake later and Kou rolls back to full throttle carefully over the crest of the off-camber Turn 2 (0:31). Considering the car’s weight distribution and the off-camber nature of the corner, the fact it doesn’t exhibit any understeer at those speeds is remarkable. Those two carefully navigated corners are where Kou beat his baseline lap by the greatest margin.

Just as impressive is the traction over Turn 3A’s crest (0:40). « That car powers out of corners like nothing else, » Kou says with a smile. However, it can still spin the rears with a bit of provocation—or, in this case, a pavement change. As Kou descends down the Carousel towards its apex, a flick of opposite lock shows the rear steps out at the corner’s hard-to-spot apex (1:05). Nevertheless, the poise and purchase on the pavement give him the confidence to stay flat. Without a doubt, the GT3 RS brings the best out of a handy driver.

A skilled driver is also ready to acknowledge their mistakes. After watching a friend carry more speed in this car through the Turn 8 chicane, he admits there’s time to be had there. « I lose about quarter of a second through Turns 8 and 8A, » he concedes. However, with so little ahead to see, it’s completely forgivable.

More chutzpah, getting to full throttle earlier in Turn 5, and the absence of traffic would put Kou comfortably in the 1:43, or even the 1:42-range. Though this generation of Porsche’s GT cars are friendlier than their predecessors, this stirring footage makes it clear they still require a skilled hand to get those last few seconds.

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Is a 911 GT2 RS Faster Than A 918 Spyder at Hockenheim?

Unlike many cars of its ilk, this GT2 RS sees a great deal of track time. Whether it be racing against current GT3 Cup cars or highly modified Nissan GT-Rs, sebastian vittel’s RS is a regular sight at tracks across France and Germany. It’s been given a few tasteful modifications to suit it to the regular beating it takes; utilizing Endless pads, steel brakes, taller wing supports from a GT3 RS, and a Manthey alignment for even more purchase on the pavement. As we see in the footage below, its performance is enough to run with the 918 Spyder—a car which costs nearly six times as much. This stellar performance makes you wonder whether the GT2 RS is merely the quickest 911 on the market today, or if it’s the defacto Porsche flagship of recent years.

Despite having only two driven wheels, the GT2 RS actually betters the four-wheel drive 918 Spyder in low-speed acceleration. This is a real asset at the tight and technical Hockenheim, where strong speed out of the hairpins leading onto the long straights pays dividends. It’s the turbocharged, two-wheel drive GT2 RS which excels in these slow-speed acceleration zones, and only once they have room to stretch their legs a bit does the 918 stretch a small lead. Not exactly what one would think when considering the specs, eh?

Weighing roughly 500 pounds more than the GT2 RS, the 918 isn’t quite the agile thing that the latest RS is, but it has a habit of belying its weight and putting it to lighter, more powerful cars. So much of that comes down to the way the 918 makes great use of its hybrid power when driven through all four wheels. With minimal wheelspin and wild torque from zip, shouldn’t that make it the king of hairpins?

Only once is vittel beaten off a hairpin (1:50), but it’s his too-early entry that’s to blame.

Well, sebastian vittel once again proves the versatility of the RS with this duel. Granted, these two aren’t pushing more than 8/10ths, the 918 isn’t exactly track-tuned, and traffic does allow vittel to close the gap after the hypercar begins to walk away. Nevertheless, it’s a strong showing from both, but it’s the RS which looks even stronger after making quick work of what ought to be the quickest in the Porsche stable.

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Chase A Tuned GT2 RS From Inside A Nissan GTR

It’s soothing to know that many owners of the latest GT2 RS thrash the car around the circuit on a regular basis. Perhaps none of these well-heeled trackday drivers is better known than « sebastien vittel« , whose exploits we’ve covered on this site many times before.

Naturally, taking a GT2 RS to a track day puts a big bullseye on the car’s back, since running with a GT2 RS on a track day is barroom boast that’ll earn the teller quite a few rounds. However, unlike most cars, the camera car in this clip is one which actually stands a chance against vittel’s mildly tuned GT2 RS.

His car uses a Manthey alignment, steel brakes, Endless brake pads, and a taller rear wing. Most importantly, vittel uses the new Michelin Cup 2 R tires, which are what Manthey used on their car to outrun the 918 at Portimao.

Despite having 60 horsepower more, the GT-R isn’t as quick as the Porsche on the straights.

The Nissan has been stripped to 3,300 pounds, makes 760 horsepower, and wears Michelin slicks. That’s still about sixty pounds heavier than the Porsche, but it makes sixty horsepower more than the 911 does. Still, it’s the Porsche that’s the quicker of the two in a straight line. The two engines displace the same volume, but the Porsche’s makes 553 lb-ft from just 2,500 rpm. That might help.

The GT-R’s great strength, four-wheel drive, help it find grip off the driving line.

A straightline advantage, strong brakes, and a handy driver help the Porsche stay ahead, but it’s clear the Nissan is faster in most corners. Searching for grip in some odd places, the Nissan uses its four-wheel drive system to deploy its incredible thrust off the well swept driving line and pass around the outside. It’s fitting that it takes such a brazen move to finish this spectacular battle between two giants, which ought to have given the two drivers plenty to talk about in the bar afterwards.

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