Porsche expectations modest for 911 RSR’s race debut

The new mid-engined 911 RSR has left several leading figures in the Porsche GT team hinting at its potential but not outright stating it can contend for GT Le Mans-class victory in the 55th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Porsche expectations modest for 911 RSR’s race debut
Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Frederic Makowiecki, Porsche Team North America Porsche
#911 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Frederic Wakowiecki
#912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Richard Lietz
Patrick Pilet, Porsche Team North America
#911 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Frederic Wakowiecki
Laurens Vanthoor, Porsche Team North America Porsche
#912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Richard Lietz
#912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Richard Lietz

Porsche, a 22-time winner of the race, has admitted that its RSR is a “completely new development” and putting the engine ahead of the rear axle is the car’s biggest change compared with last year’s car. However, the suspension, body structure, aerodynamics, engine and transmission have also all been designed from scratch for 2017, according to Porsche.

These moves have left senior personnel stating hopes for the race, rather than making predictions of performance.

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, head of Porsche Motorsport, declared: “The 24 Hours of Daytona is the perfect race to debut our new 911 RSR, and we’re looking forward to showcasing our 100 percent newly developed car to sportscar fans in the USA on its maiden outing.

“Facing the first factory entry of the year against very strong opposition, the Porsche GT Team is hoping that the 911 RSR performs well and has a race without any major problems.”

Marco Ujhasi, director of GT Factory Motorsports added: “We conducted intensive tests over the last few months and gained vital insights. The new driver combinations have already meshed well together. So, in this respect, we’re heading to Daytona feeling very confident.”

The #911 entry will be driven by Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner and Frederick Makowiecki, while the #912’s lineup comprises Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor and Richard Lietz.

Pilet, who shared Porsche's previous Daytona GTLM win with Lietz and Nick Tandy (who this year has graduated to Porsche’s LMP team), commented: “The last time we came to Daytona with a new 911 RSR was in 2014, and we won. Hopefully, that’s a good omen.”

Lietz sounded more confident, stating: “The new 911 RSR proved to be outstanding during the preparation phase, and we drivers know what it takes to finish at the front of this race.”

Said Makowiecki: “Daytona is an important venue to establish where we stand, but it also has its quirks. You have to attack right from the start, but you can’t afford to take too many risks so that you have a healthy car at the end to fight for victory. I hope we find the best compromise and finish amongst the leaders with our new 911 RSR.”

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