Joerg Bergmeister believes the next-generation Porsche 911 GT3 R could be the most competitive GT3 car yet, once it makes its debut next January in Daytona.
The all-new 991-based contender, based on the recently launched 911 GT3 RS production car, will mark Porsche’s first serious foray into GT3 racing amid the category’s growing popularity.
Bergmeister took part in two tests with the car during its early development phase last year, prior to the decision to go with a direct-injected variant of the 4.0-liter flat-six engine.
“I think the car should be very competitive,” he told Sportscar365 during the car’s premiere at the Nürburgring earlier this month.
“When I tested the car, we also tested the RSR the same day. In the quick corners, there’s definitely a lot more downforce than the RSR. It’s quite impressive.
“It feels like more like the 991-based RSR than the 997-based for sure. It’s very similar, driving style wise. Just the downforce is better and the lap times are quicker.”
While sharing the DNA of the Porsche 911 RSR GTE car, the 911 GT3 R features a number of new components, including suspension, carbon fiber bodywork and the previously mentioned production-based engine.
With driver aids such as ABS allowed in GT3, Bergmeister feels the new car will better suit gentlemen drivers.
“We definitely tried to put emphasis on it, so that not only pros are quick in it but it’s a fairly simple car to drive,” he said. “I think so far, we achieved that.
“Hopefully the customers will like it, especially the gentlemen drivers.”
Bergmeister, the longest-running Porsche GT factory driver has also played a key role in the development of no fewer than four other 911-based race cars.
The list includes the 997, 991 and 997 Hybrid, which the German has seen clear advancements through the years.
“I recently watched an on-board of Mike Rockenfeller at Sebring when he was driving the BAM! car in 2004,” he said.
“Comparing it to what it’s like now being in the car, it’s a huge difference. It just speaks for all the advancements we’ve made to the the cars and the tires as well.”
While Porsche’s factory involvement in the GTE ranks has yet to be confirmed for 2016, Bergmeister admits he wouldn’t mind driving the new 911 GT3 R, given its early strengths.
“I think GT3 got a lot more attention now within Porsche,” he said. “I think it’s a good step because it’s a proven concept, the GT3 platform worldwide.
“It’s a big market for sure and it’s where a lot of the customers are. You need to have a product, and a good product at that.
“I think it’s going to be good fun. GT3 racing in general is always tight. I think once people see that the car will be competitive, there will be a lot of interest.”