IMSA move to GT3 specs in 2016 requires all-new car, and there are lots of choices.
Alex Job Racing and Porsche have had a long and successful relationship.
How long? Twenty-six years.
And how successful? A stunning 10 class wins at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, including this year, as well as past wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
But that said, Job makes his living racing, and has since 1988. At the end of the 2015 season, his current race car, the Porsche 911 GT America, will no longer be eligible for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class, as sanctioning body IMSA will adopt the FIA’s GT3-specification rules package. So Job had a decision to make: Stay with Porsche, or move to another manufacturer he thought would offer a better chance to win.
Why the change? Because FIA’s GT3 specification is accepted globally by dozens of different sanctioning bodies. It is costing manufacturers less, which will eventually mean it will cost racers less, to build one model of race car that can be raced worldwide, instead of multiple models with comparatively minor differences specific to multiple racing series.
The current model raced by Job and other Porsche teams in GT Daytona is based on the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer used the Porsche Supercup series. Changes had to be made for it to run in the GT Daytona series, including a larger, 4.0-liter, 470-horsepower six-cylinder engine. It has been a solid, reliable, competitive car over the years, but Porsche team owners have had to spend time and money adapting the car to changing rules.
A team decision
Job conferred with his two teams, who pay the bills – WeatherTech Racing and Team Seattle – and they decided to move forward for 2015, which meant new cars. Though Job is a Porsche loyalist, he looked at most all the available GT3 cars, -- from Lamborghini to BMW to Audi to Mercedes-Benz – before he settled on the all-new Porsche GT3 R. Most of them are priced just north or south of about $500,000.
Yes, it was a certain level of comfort with Porsche that played into the decision, but Job has left Porsche before when he was convinced it was the best thing to do, and he was prepared to again had he not seen and heard what he liked at a preview of the new GT3 during the 24-hour race at the Nurburgring in Germany earlier this year. “I looked at what they had, and I was confident they had done a good job and we decided to stay the course,” Job said.
Like the current car, the 2016 GT3 R is built on the 991 platform, but there are a lot of differences. The 4.0-liter engine is very similar to the one in the 911 GT3 RS road car, except it uses direct injection. There has been a lot of aerodynamic work to the body. The wheelbase is slightly longer. Antilock brakes and traction control are now allowed. Only the gearbox is an approximate carryover from the car Job’s teams currently race.
Porsche hopes to have a 2016 GT3 R car to display at the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta October 1-3, as Atlanta is the company’s U.S. headquarters. Job hopes to get his cars about the first of November – any later, and it will be a time crunch to get the cars ready for the Rolex 24 at Daytona next January. Until then, there are a few more races to win with the Porsche 911 GT America before that model rolls into retirement.