Friend of Flat Six Society, Jason Connor was in attendance at the LA Auto Show yesterday, and was kind enough to provide us with these photographs of the car on the show stand. Thanks to his photos, we'll discuss the car's new design, the new aerodynamic aids, the new Porsche Design livery, and the new technology displayed. Porsche has created this new car from the ground up to take on the best of the best on the world stage. I am personally intrigued by the new top-mount wing, the new multi-element diffuser, the new wider rockers, and the wild new DTM-style rear view mirrors. This car is the first step in a new era of Porsche GT racing. So lets jump into a little bit of analysis in regard to the new car's design. It's wild and nearly prototype-esque in the application of some of its new pieces. Here we go, lets get nerdy.
New "Swan Neck"-style top-mount rear wing
The swan neck style of wing has been incorporated into high-level prototype cars since about 2009 when Audi introduced the R15 and Acura the ARX-02a LMP1 cars. This change in mount generally helps to mitigate aero "separation" from the chord of the wing when angle of attack is increased. The net result here is an increase in effective downforce from the same volume of air displaced. I'm hardly an aerodynamicist, but if you're interested in the advanced science of the swan neck, you can check out this post over on MulsannesCorner.com to guide you through it. If I were to throw out an educated guess, the wing that is currently on the show car is not the wing we will see on the 911 RSR in the 2017 season.
New DTM-style rear view mirrors
Just like the wing mounts, Porsche's new exterior rearview mirror design is also cribbed from another form of motorsport, this time from Germany's own Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft series. These new mirrors appear to be derived from the design that Audi has been using on their A5 racer since 2014. The DTM mirrors are a bit more convoluted with extra wingplates and multiple downforce inducing elements. I'm sure Porsche's mirrors will be aero-generating, but perhaps not on the same level as those on the A5. In any case, they are wildly different than anything we've seen before.
New super-wide rockers
In the image below you can also see the new full-width rocker panel extrusions that were not quite as wide on the 2016-spec GTE car. The 2016 GTE class aero rules allowed these extensions and Aston Martin took full advantage of them, making their V8 Vantage look wild and unruly. The 2017-spec Porsche looks just as wild as the Astons did this year, including these wide carbon lower aero panels. These rocker extensions help separate underbody airflow from side airflow, making the diffuser more efficient at creating downforce to the rear of the car.
New multi-element diffuser
Speaking of that rear diffuser, this is the single most important change from the old 911 RSR to the new 911 RSR. All new designs from Ford and Ferrari moved the goalposts for GTE in 2016, and both of those new cars have been incredibly fast on-track. In 2016, at most tracks, the WEC GTE-Pro Porsche team was well off the pace because of a wholesale lack of rear downforce and an overall unbalanced aero package. With the engine in the back of the car, Porsche was not able to take full advantage of the ruleset allowing the rear diffuser to extend 100 milimeters beyond the "bodywork" of the car. The mid-engine (Ford GT and Ferrari 488) and front-engine (Corvette C7.R and Aston Martin V8 Vantage) were able to make their 2016-spec diffusers work quite well, but the rear-engine Porsche was on the back foot. By moving the engine forward in the chassis and placing the transaxle behind the engine, they now have diffuser room.
Ultimately, the outgoing Porsche 911 RSR has been in play since the 2013 season, albeit with many evolutionary changes. The car introduced in 2013 is completely different from the one we saw unveiled at the LA Autoshow this week. The new-spec car has gained about 50 pounds over the original 991 RSR, but then again it has also gained 20 mm in overall length (not including the diffuser and front splitter, which have also gained in size), a massive 80 mm in width at the front axle and 46 mm in width at the rear axle. With a move to mid-engine architecture, the new car has also gained 51 mm of wheelbase length, meaning the front and rear overhangs have decreased significantly as well. Whether these new changes will ultimately make the car more competitive is yet to be completely discovered, but you can bet that this new car has certainly increased Porsche's potential. While their two-car effort in IMSA will remain unchanged, Porsche are planning for a two-car assault on GTE-Pro in the FIA WEC, which is a big step up from this year. I wish them all the luck in the world. I know I'll be cheering for them come Daytona 2017.
991 RSR as introduced in 2013
Weight - ~1220 kg
Length - 4537 mm
Width - 1962 mm Front 2002 mm Rear
Wheel base - 2465 mm
991 RSR 2017 spec
Weight - ~ 1243 kg
Length - 4557 mm w/o wing/diffuser/splitter
Width - 2042 mm Front 2048 mm Rear
Wheelbase - 2516 mm
Now, about that livery. It's impressive that Porsche has finally moved on from their lackluster "Porsche Intelligent Performance" livery, and added a splash of color to their car, however the new black/red/grey/white livery still fails to inspire. The 911 has a lot of intrinsic design elements that can be easily accentuated with a proper livery, and it sort of feels like Porsche has chosen to keep those design elements hidden and swathed in white, while the lower half and the rear quarter get all of the color attention. If the red and white were inverted and this were a mostly red car, it would probably work better, but the livery design itself still needs some tweaking. Its a move in the right direction, but not nearly bold enough for the bold move that this car has made as a whole. Even though the car itself looks relatively evolutionary from the old car, basically everything about it has changed. New engine, new transmission, new drivetrain layout, new bodywork, new aero, new safety equipment, so why not an exciting livery development to go along with that?