New leaner Porsche hybrid racer

The Porsche factory team will line up for the 2011 Nurburgring 24-Hour endurance race with a considerably updated version of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid – so much so that the team refers to the 2011 race car as Version 2.0.

Most of the development work went into making the hybrid components more compact – the hybrid system as a unit is now 20 percent lighter than previously, in an attempt to achieve the same lap times as its predecessor on less fuel.

The general layout remains the same, however; a portal axle with two electric motors drives the front wheels and supplements the 345kW, four-litre flat-six at the back – but the output of the electric motors has been increased from 60 to 75kW each.

For a few seconds at a time, drivers now have an additional 150kW on tap, either by hoofing the loud pedal extra hard or by calling the extra power up manually, for instance when overtaking.

The electric flywheel accumulator, with its rotor spinning up to 40 000rpm and storing energy mechanically, is now fitted, along with the other hybrid components, in a carbon-fibre safety cell on the passenger’s side.

The new GT3 R Hybrid is visually quite different from the 2010 model. More efficient, cooler-running high-voltage components have obviated the need for large louvres in front of the wheel arches, reducing drag and fuel consumption. And the overall weight of the car is down from 1350 to 1300kg.

Most of the displays and controls have been moved to the steering wheel.

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Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche motorsport, said: “We’ve collected a great deal of information from our races at the Nurburgring, the ALMS race at Road Atlanta in the US and the ILMC race at China’s Zhuhai circuit.

“The emphasis was always on improving efficiency – keeping the lap times consistent with 2010 but using less energy, hence less fuel, and supporting future development of sporty hybrid road cars.”

The cockpit of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid has also been completely revised. Most of the displays and controls have been moved to the steering wheel and the driver can operate the rest of the functions via backlit buttons on the centre console. Priority was placed on ergonomics and a clear, intuitive layout – particularly in darkness as this is, after all, an endurance racer.