Radical 2017 Porsche 911 RSR revealed at LA Auto Show

The new 2017 Porsche 911 RSR has been officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show and, after months of speculation, the racer’s public debut brings confirmation that Weissach has switched to a mid-engined layout for its latest LM-GTE contender.

The move means the 2017 RSR becomes the first 911 since the Le Mans-winning GT1-98 to feature its flat six engine ahead of the rear axle, with the gearbox now sitting behind the powerplant, connected via a new magnesium bellhousing.

While the more central positioning of the engine improves weight distribution, the major advantage afforded to Porsche is in the aerodynamic department, where it can now make full use of new rules brought in at the start of the 2016 season.

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With the engine moved forward in the car (and a new exhaust system doing away from the previously central tailpipes), the space has been freed up to fit a much larger diffuser, which combines with a new top-mounted rear wing to provide the 911 RSR with more downforce than ever before.

Unlike rivals Ford and Ferrari (who have successfully campaigned new turbocharged units this year), Porsche has stuck with a naturally aspirated flat six for 2017, contrary to rumours that suggested a new forced induction flat six was in the offing.

Despite this, the venerable ‘Mezger’ unit has made way for a new 4.0-litre DFI engine that puts out around 510hp (depending on the size of the restrictor), a 50hp over the outgoing flat six.

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“For the [new] 911 RSR, we deliberately focussed on a particularly modern and light normally-aspirated engine, as this gave our engineers immense latitude in developing the vehicle,” explained Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr Frank-Steffan Walliser.

Like the current 911 GT3 RS, the new RSR breathes through the enlarged Turbo-esque vents in the rear arches while, without the need for a traditional decklid, the rear windscreen has been replaced with a vented cooling panel.

Away from these striking changes, the 2017 RSR takes some of its styling cues (including the rear light design) from the 991.2 facelift while the bodywork (made extensively from carbon fibre) has been optimised for ease of replacement.

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Inside, the drivers will benefit from a new ‘Collision Avoid System’, a radar-supported warning system that is able to detect approaching cars (such as faster LMP1 prototypes) even in the dead of night.

The new racing 911 retains a six-speed paddleshift gearbox, while the double wishbone suspension setup (first introduced on the previous RSR) has been optimised for even faster setting changes.

Porsche has also confirmed that it will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship with a pair of factory-run entries, while another pair of new 911 RSRs will compete in the United SportsCar Championship, where they will make their competition debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona on 28-29 January.

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