The Six-Second Advantage

A closer look at the GT3 RS 4.0, the last 911 to use the venerable "split-case" flat six and the first 911 to double the displacement of 1964's air-cooled original.

November 4, 2011
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Six seconds is about the time it takes the average person to read a long sentence, or savor a sip of a favorite drink. On a race track, where a split second can be the difference between winning and coming second, six seconds is an eternity.

Porsche says its new 500-hp GT3 RS 4.0, with an official 7 minute, 27 second lap time at the Nür­burgring Nord­schleife, is six seconds a lap quicker than the 450-hp 2010 GT3 RS 3.8. It is also five seconds a lap faster over this 12.9-mile circuit than the mighty 612-hp Carrera GT of 2004. The control driver for the RS 4.0’s fast lap was Por­sche development driver Timo Gluck (not the F1 driver), who also set the 7 minute, 33 second official lap time in the GT3 RS 3.8 last year.

Putting space between the GT3 RS 4.0 and these other legendary Porsches is no mean feat, especially as the RS 3.8 is one of the fastest Porsches ever. To learn more about the car that brings the 997 series to a close on a very high note, I drove the RS 4.0 extensively and spent time with its creator, Andreas Preuninger, the head of Porsche’s GT and RS model development at Weissach.

You may be surprised to learn that the GT3 4.0 was not officially planned,” begins Preuninger. “My team likes to play with ideas, and after we proved that our 4.0-liter RSR race engine was bulletproof in the heat of competition, some of the engineers were determined to try a similar capacity motor in a street car. The test results were so impressive we ran the idea of a 997 ‘last hurrah’ RS 4.0 limited edition past the Board and they signed it off.”

The Board must be pleased with the market’s response: “The 600 4.0-liter cars were sold out in just 14 days,” says Preu­ninger. “In addition, we built six development cars and six pre-production cars, making a total of 12. The dashboard plaques on the six pre-production cars all read 000/600, and one of these will end up in the Porsche Museum.”

Incidentally, Preuninger says Porsche has built 2,500 examples of the 997-2 GT3 and 2,000 copies of the 997-2 GT3 RS. So as the curtain drops, the 2010–2011 GT3 leaves the stage with some 5,100 units sold, an impressive figure for such a specialist model — especially considering the economic climate throughout its lifespan.

The numbers that matter to driving enthusiasts are even more impressive, however. The RS 4.0’s horsepower peak of 500 arrives at 8250 rpm, a big step up from the RS 3.8’s 450 horsepower at 7900 rpm. Power delivery is even more linear than with the 3.8, and the 4.0 features a torque peak that is 22 lb-ft higher, for a total of at 339 lb-ft at 5750 rpm.

Also from Issue 197

  • Michael Mauer on the 991
  • 1950 356 cabriolet
  • 1984 911 Carrera Targa
  • Falken's change of pace
  • 1994 911 RS America
  • 1978 928: A lovely old shed
  • Project 914 3.6 — Part 18.5
  • Slave and master cylinder
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