Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS v rivals
“It won’t be under seven minutes,” said GT director Andreas Preuninger when I asked him about a Nürburgring laptime at the 991.2 GT3 RS reveal in Finland earlier this year. He was wrong: it is, and comfortably so, the Lizard green RS lapping the ‘Green Hell’ in 6 minutes 56.4 seconds in the hands of Porsche works racing driver Kévin Estre. That’s 24 seconds faster than the previous GT3 RS, which is little short of incredible.
It underlines the changes to the second-generation car, revisions which, on paper at least, look relatively insignificant. The engine is now that of the current GT3, albeit featuring a differing intake and exhaust. Its power creeps up – not leaps up – to 520hp, it revving to the same, glorious 9,000rpm. The increase is just 20hp over the GT3 and the Gen1 GT3 RS, Preuninger suggesting in Finland that the extra power would only account for a second or so worth of improvement.
Aerodynamic revisions, the immediacy and intricate control of the engine, the electronic differential, rear-wheel steering and PDK transmission and, crucially, the suspension would play their part, too. The new car borrows heavily from its GT2 RS sibling, that means 991 Cup in Nürburgring specification-derived, solid-mounted suspension, with spring rates double that of the outgoing RS, but softer dampers and anti-roll bars. It’s here that Preuninger suggests the biggest gains have been made, and on the road there’s no denying they’re revelatory.
If the 991.1 GT3 RS felt the most distinct departure from its mere GT3 relation previously, then the 991.2 shifts the RS genre into a different area again. The changes on the road are scarcely believable. Had you told me a 991.1 GT3 RS could be so comprehensively out-pointed I simply would not have believed you. The most familiar element is its engine, Porsche’s naturally aspirated 4.0-litre unit a masterpiece, previous experience of it in the standard GT3 underlining that. In the RS it’s sharper, even more immediate and sounds absolutely incredible. The GT department has worked extensively on the systems controlling it, indeed, the entire GT3 RS project defined by adding precision and accuracy to every single element of the car’s controls.
You notice that as soon as you brush the accelerator, the enthusiasm to spin up to its redline even more apparent than with the GT3. The differing intakes, the titanium exhaust and the loss of some carpet and sound deadening give it a clearer, more evocative voice, too, the mechanical sound not raw, but cultured with edge. Peak power’s at 8,250rpm, but just try and avoid chasing that redline at 9,000rpm. There is no let-up as you do, the reward not just the evocative notes the flat six creates, but the continued rush of acceleration across its entire rev-range.
We’ve not got the Nürburgring at our disposal today to explore that, instead we’ll make do with the de-restricted country roads around the Isle of Man. The RS can stretch its legs here, though it might not be able to do so were it not for the sophistication of the suspension. It’s here, specifically, that the GT3 RS takes an evolutionary leap over its predecessor. The GT2 RS-derived set-up allows incredible control and composure, despite tarmac that’s about as far removed from a racing track as it could possibly be. Imperfections on the surface are the norm, smooth tarmac here evidently anomalous, which makes it even more incredible to think that the bike racers who call these roads home during the TT races carry so much speed down these same roads.
For the full group test against the 996 and 997.2 GT3 RS, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 166 from the shops now or order it direct to your door here. You can also download to any Apple or Android device.