Porsche is taking a new approach to motorsports with its new tailor-made RSR program developed especially for customers that want to go racing in the company's iconic 911 sports car.
Before we talk about the RSR program, a bit of sad news. Porsche is not going to return to Le Mans 2018 in the LMP1 class. Instead, the company will field cars in GT racing formats and pour more of its resources into the new Formula E series. The exit of Porsche from the world's biggest endurance racing event is sure to mean that Le Mans will be a sadder place than it was last year. But this year's WEC GTE Pro class witnessed some fierce rivalries among contenders that showed that there was still some good racing to be had even without the presence of race prototypes like the 919. Porsche also saw the opportunity to enter a new segment of motorsports and has devised what it calls the 911 RSR Customer Program.
The RSR program essentially takes mid-engined 911s and turns them into full-bore race cars. The familiarity card is a lot stronger nowadays, as people tend to take a great deal of interest in races where the cars are recognizable to the ones on the road. WEC GTE classes have got supercars like Ferraris, Aston Martins, Fords, Chevys and the likes fielding for the top spot. This is where the 911 RSR fits in. With all the above manufacturers locked in a heated battle racing in cars that are the stuff of dreams, it is the perfect platform for Porsche to drop its excellent RSR cars, whilst also including aspiring customers (whether motorsport professionals or amateurs) in its racing program.
The car in question is the standard 911, which has been given quite the makeover. Its boxer motor now pushes 510 hp to the rear wheels, and a widebody kit and an obnoxious aero package make sure it sticks firmly to the ground. While the numbers and design of the 911 RSR are a sign of a mad, mad race car, there is also the presence of things like safety sensors that signal the modern motorsport era.
Purists among us might argue that the good old days should be brought back, where it was just the car, the driver, and his cojones that won him the race. The fact of the matter is, those glorious days of motorsport also resulted in the loss of scores of people, including the race car drivers, journos, and innocent spectators. The new safety systems, that work accurately even at ungodly speeds are simply a way to mitigate unneeded losses or injuries, rather than what they are seen as: electro-nannies. The RSR cars with their sophisticated safety systems are a way to make sure that budding amateurs or perhaps excited professionals don't go overboard and end up staring at a wall that's coming closer at 300 kph.
This is where motorsport is heading to, and no one can stop the charge. Porsche is one of the early movers with its excellent customer racing program and will start selling RSRs to customers next year. A slew of new drivers is already getting into the RSR program next year, that includes both professionals and upstarts, in Europe for the WEC as well in North America for IMSA. We wish Porsche the best of luck with its endeavor to take on one of the most exciting motorsports formats ever.