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Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car revealed

Wed, 10 Feb 2010

Porsche will bring its latest hybrid know-how to the racetrack in the form of the new 911 GT3 R Hybrid, revealed here for the first time prior to a planned public premiere at the Geneva auto show in early March.

Developed by a team of engineers at Porsche's Weissach R&D center, Porsche plans for the stripped-out race car to act as a rolling laboratory. The German carmaker wants to explore the potential of hybrid drivetrains in a racing environment before an expected announcement that it will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a factory capacity, perhaps in 2012, with a race car boasting technology based on that used in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

Based on Porsche's recently revealed 911 GT3 RSR, the R Hybrid eschews conventional hybrid technology for an advanced new electro-mechanical flywheel system. Porsche sources said that the company is considering the system as a means of boosting the performance of its future race cars, and that the technology could end up on selected road cars, including a planned hybrid version of the 911. The new hybrid technology forms part of a broader program that goes under the name Porsche Intelligent Performance.

Similar in principle to the system that the Williams Formula One team researched last year--prior to the FIA abandoning its push for the inclusion of hybrid technology on F1 cars--the flywheel is mounted in the space usually reserved for the passenger seat on road versions of the 911 to provide the new racer with a low center of gravity.

Charged by kinetic energy created under braking and capable of operating at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm, the flywheel is used in place of a conventional battery to provide electrical energy to a pair of 60-kilowatt motors mounted within the front axle assembly and propelling the front wheels--a layout that effectively provides the 911 GT3 R Hybrid with four-wheel-drive capability.

The two motors assist the engine, a 480-hp naturally aspirated 4.0-liter version of Porsche's traditional flat-six that drives the rear wheels, providing a maximum eight-second burst of propulsion to the front wheels for added acceleration out of corners and increased overtaking ability at the press of a button.

Porsche has made no official performance claims for the 911 GT3 R Hybrid. Instead, its engineers point to the benefits its new system brings in overall fuel economy, something Porsche considers crucial to establishing a winning formula for future success in long-distance sports-car racing.

Following its unveiling at the Geneva motor show, Porsche plans to run the 911 GT3 R Hybrid in this year's N

By Greg Kable