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Turbo Vs. Naturally Aspirated: GT2 RS Clubsport Takes On GT3 Cup

Separated by 400 pounds and 235 horsepower, the comparison of these two is quite intriguing. When the chassis are fundamentally so similar, how does a little extra girth and a different power delivery alter the performances of two racing 911s?

The environment plays a major role here. For one, the long straights of Road America obviously favor the turbocharged car, but several long corners and sections with abrupt direction changes may give the lightweight Cup car the edge. Either way, we get to see just how the purest, most focused, track-specific 911s vary depending on their form of induction. We’ve seen a heavier GT2 RS go against the Cup, but this time the two entrants sport the same tires and more similar weights.

With those massive air inlets and angular canards, the Clubsport looks as menacing as any car.

For the driver, one of the most experienced wranglers of 911s was called in. Leh Keen, ALMS and Rolex Champion, has won countless races in a GT3 Cup, and thanks to his Porschephile/collector father, he’s hooned a 993 GT2 racing car at one point in his career, too. For the purposes of this comparison, Keen was given several exploratory laps to get to terms with both cars, then given a set of fresh slicks to try and snag the best possible times.

Keen makes a statement with his Pascha racing suit.

While Keen’s steering inputs looks very similar in both cars, it’s obvious that the Clubsport has the ability to spin the rears more easily and the steering post-apex is much busier. Deploying the turbocharged power in slow corners is tricky; we see when the rear steps out violently (5:31) leaving the Turn 8. That said, the Clubsport does a good job of remaining composed while sideways over the curbing. It’s far from an unwieldy beast, and if the car can get pointed the right way soon enough, the grunt does help a lot towards finding the laptime.

Up until that point, the Clubsport had a several-second advantage, but through that little slide and the subsequent, long, and front end-testing Turn 9 (in which the Clubsport appears to understeer more), the lighter, looser Cup starts to claw back slightly.

However, Road America is a fast course which rewards horsepower. With several straights and a decent uphill section between there and the finish line, the turbo power makes itself felt, and Keen crosses the line 3.2 seconds earlier in the turbocharged monster. Quiet, smooth, less crucial on mid-corner momentum, and relatively encouraging to drive, the GT2 RS Clubsport may be the gentleman driver’s ideal racing car.


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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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Ride Onboard For Some Silky Smooth Laps in a Track-Spec 996 GT3 at Road America

Photos & video courtesy of Ryan Gates/311RS, LLC.

With the right modifications, the 996 GT3 becomes a car that will sway the most skeptical, please the frigid, and bring out the best in the timid. Not that it was slow from the factory, but with some talented tuners and a skilled set of hands making the most out of the least loved of the GT lineup, we see that it—like every other member of its purebred stable—is made for carving quick laps and stretching smiles.

Minneapois-based motorsports design firm 311RS is responsible for making this GT3 into something capable of cracking off consistent laps in the 2:26-range. They spared no expense here, starting with JRZ-RS Pro coilovers with custom 311RS damping. ERP arms and solid bushings came next, and the suspension maximizes the footprint made by the 311RS-spec BBS E88 18×9″ & 18×11.5″ wheels wrapped in Michelin Sport Cup 2s.

With roughly 400 horsepower courtesy of a Cup exhaust, BMC filters, an IPD plenum, and a tune, it’s definitely rapid and needs serious stopping power. The brakes, still factory reds, use Girodisc rotors, Pagid Yellow pads, and stainless lines. For a track as fast as Road America with heavy braking zones, these bring the ~3,000-lb GT3 to a stop. On that note—they trimmed a little heft by removing the airbags, sun visors, glove box, front console, and head unit. It’s a track special, no doubt.

More than its straightline speed and its stopping ability, this GT3’s stability and responsive front end are its most impressive features. Rather than some frightening, hair-trigger monster, it’s composed and neutral, especially in high speed corners. Granted, Ryan Gates has the deft touch of an experienced driver, but no wiggling under braking, no mild corrections in the quick stuff, and only a hint of oversteer on turn-in proves 311RS really dialed it in. Perhaps a more aggressive driver would bring out its fangs, but Gates is still clicking off quick times with a very economical, subdued style.

Perhaps the large RS wing at the rear must help there, and the broad front splitter can’t hurt. Clearly, it’s a reassuring car with balance, braking performance, and punch enables Gates to charge without breaking a sweat and reel in some 991s. Note the distance he gains in braking and entry speed through the daunting Turn 11, known as the Kink (6:54). There, you want a car to sit nicely lest you leave a big black streak along the outside wall.


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Porsche Destroyed Another Production Car Lap Record, This Time At Road America

Back in 2016 Dodge set the Viper ACR loose on tracks all across the country with the intent of setting track lap records. It was fast and successful in this endeavor, which got people talking about how fast the Viper ACR actually was. With 13 track records owned by the Viper at the time, Dodge had a lot to be proud of. Of course, some of those tracks were small inconsequential tracks like Grattan Raceway in Michigan, or Nelson Ledges in Ohio. They did, however, grab some big names like Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta, and VIR.

Porsche is taking a page out of the Dodge book and taking some of those track lap records away from Dodge, as the GT2 RS now has the Laguna Seca, Willow Springs, and Road Atlanta records. As of today, that car has also set the Road America production car lap record with an incredible lap (shown in the video below) of 2:15.17. Driver David Donohue raced the turbocharged rear-drive uber-911 around the Wisconsin race course to set the record.

While a Dodge Viper owned the previous production car record at Road America previously, it was a fourth-generation car which set the record back in 2011 at 2:20.00 with Dodge racer Kuno Wittmer at the wheel. Interestingly, that record had already been eclipsed by a privately-owned GT2 RS last fall when Steve Dimakos hired pro racer Bryan Sellers to run his car at Road America, where he set a 2:17.04 lap. Porsche’s recent effort simply managed to knock a couple seconds off the lap record it already owned.

Donohue stepped aboard the GT2 RS, and set the record during his second lap of the track. That’s how great the GT2 RS is.

Like the Road Atlanta effort, Porsche also brought along a GT3 RS to set a lap time for the fun of it. While down about 200 horsepower, the GT3 RS was only a tick behind on the clock with a 2:18.57 lap time that would still have been fast enough to beat Dodge’s official lap record time.


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Jim Pace Guides Us Around Road America in a Special Porsche 935

A brave, talented racer and the world’s fastest tour guide, Jim Pace shows us how to handle a flamespitting 935 around the fast and unforgiving sweepers of Road America. The Wisconsin-based track is one of the most beautiful and storied circuits in North America.

Pace has guided us through quick laps before, but this is one of the faster cars he’s been kind enough to share the passenger seat, if you like. This monster was build partly as a commemoration to the aluminum-monocoqued, 820-horsepower,two-ton, wing-laden monstrosities which John Paul Sr. and Jr. developed in the early eighties to dominate IMSA GTP. In fact, this particular car is a one-off designed to raise awareness for Huntington’s Disease, which afflicts John Paul Jr.

Thanks to the labored breathing punctuating Pace’s narration, we get a sense of how physically demanding this car is. The 935’s natural traction, when combined with a heavily turbocharged motor, makes even a seasoned driver pant. That said, Pace’s aggressive style, combined with that torque, means the rear tires spin quite easily out of the slowest corners—listen to the revs spike and howl at 5:15!

Getting on the power at the right moment and exploiting that turbocharged thrust seems to be Pace’s recurring aim—Road America is comprised of many long straights, after all. « Go now » and regular reads of the tachometer at certain corner exits demonstrate his focus on exiting cleanly and keeping the revs high. Running against some cars with even more grunt, he has to do everything in his power to stay competitive.

The classic paint scheme is reminiscent of an old Group 5 racer, yet still looks fresh.

Perhaps that’s why he’s constantly reassuring himself. In the heat of battle, it helps to soothe oneself with simple reminders, such as « eyes up » or « nice and steady. » In fact, when heading into the Kink at outrageous speeds (7:01), « breathe and squeeze » might actually be a life-saving reminder. After all, racing is a mental game, and to extract every iota of performance from a car as taxing as the JLP-HD1, one needs to keep themselves in a positive frame of mind.


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