While Ford, Ferrari and BMW debut all-new cars, reigning GTE-Pro/GT Le Mans champions Porsche have opted to update its existing 911 RSR to 2016 GTE regulations, a move that the German manufacturer will be hoping to pay dividends this year.
The updated 911 RSR made its public debut at the Roar Before the Rolex 24, with Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Leader GT Works Motorsport providing Sportscar365 with an overview of the changes.
“The main task was to bring the car into the new regulations, as close as possible, and we did it,” Ujhasi told Sportscar365.
The updates have been focused on aero and safety, with the car now sporting a 100mm front splitter — with spoiler lip — along with a revised rear wing position, having been moved further back.
While cars such as the Ford GT are sporting large diffusers, the Porsche’s is only slightly bigger in size than last year, due to the location of the engine in the rear. The shape of the exhaust has also been re-shaped.
The final visual difference are new side plates, located below the doors, which all GTE cars have adopted. Ujhasi said it’s one area of new flexibility in the regulations that allows a change from the production car.
On the safety side, the car now features a revised roof hatch, new seat, safety net — which is now mandatory in WEC — as well as anti-intrusion panels installed in the doors.
Mechanically, the 911 RSR remains relatively untouched, with the same 4.0-liter flat-six engine, drivetrain and suspension.
The only difference for 2016 is a 0.3 mm larger air restrictor, per IMSA’s initial Balance of Performance, and a switch from E85 to E20 fuel in the U.S.
“You’re always looking for the right balance,” Ujhasi said. “When you look at what changed, compared to last year, on the front, you can imagine what we can do on the rear.
“So it’s nothing. We’re not talking about one or two tenths. It’s mainly the same car.”
The pair of CORE autosport-run, Porsche North America-entered chassis are brand-new but Ujhasi said existing cars could be upgraded to 2016-spec.
Additionally, IMSA and WEC-spec cars will be nearly identical in specification for the first time in more than a year. There were IMSA-specific aero changes given to the U.S.-based 911 RSRs in mid-2014.
The only difference between the two cars in 2016 will come with IMSA’s new BoP data acquisition system, which is mandatory on all GTLM and GTD cars this year.
While the system costs upwards of $20,000 to outfit on each car, according to Ujhasi, it’s aimed to provide a more equal playing field between the large diversity of GTLM machinery.
“In the end, it’s definitely necessary and we really support this,” he said. “But with the sensors, if you put enough effort into it and knowledge, BoP is definitely possible and that’s a good thing for this year with all the definitions of the performance windows and so on.
“We are really a step forward to do the BoP based on objectives and I hope it will work out and everyone will look at the stuff we have in the car. We are completely open to this and share everything we can.
“Like I said last year, the sport can’t survive if BoP isn’t working.”