After a successful first season of competition with the flywheel-equipped 911 GT3R hybrid in 2010, Porsche is coming back with a more powerful and efficient Ver. 2.0 for this year. In its debut campaign, Porsche proved out the effectiveness of the basic electro-mechanical flywheel system even finishing first among all GT cars at the season ending race in Zuhai, China.
Version 2.0 is primarily about refining the car and the hybrid system to reduce weight and size as well as improving the aerodynamics. The flywheel system still spins at up to 40,000 rpm but it’s now more compact and 20 percent lighter than the first iteration allowing it and the hybrid power electronics to be packaged into the carbon fiber safety enclosure on the passenger side of the car. The electronics are now more efficient so they generate less heat and require less cooling which has allowed Porsche to dispense with the two large air scoops that sat ahead of the rear wheel arches on the 2010 car. The result is less aerodynamic drag for better speed and reduced fuel consumption.
On the driver side of the cockpit, Porsche has consolidated all of the instrumentation readout and all of the major controls into the center of the steering wheel so they are always visible and accessible. Other controls are available with backlit buttons that have been placed on panel in the center console. The goal was to improve the ergonomics for the drivers, especially when running in the dark during endurance races.
The 470 horsepower normally aspirated six-cylinder boxer engine continues to hang out behind the rear axle just as 911s have done for 50 years. Up front, the two electric motors that drive the front wheels have been upgraded from 60 to 75 kilowatts each, giving the 911 hybrid a boost of up to 200 hp for accelerating out of curves or passing. The system can be programmed to either feed in the electric power automatically when the driver presses the throttle pedal or provide an on-demand boost via a steering wheel button for overtaking.
Overall, Porsche engineers have dropped the weight of the 911 hybrid by 50 kilograms to just 1,300 kg which should improve the handling, accelerating and efficiency. The plan is tune the 911 to provide similar lap-times to the 2010 car, but use the improvements to cut fuel consumption over the already efficient version 1.0. So far Porsche has committed to running the hybrid in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in June and probably some of the four hour races that make up the Ring endurance series this spring. After the 24 hour race, the car will probably go to Petit Le Mans in October and perhaps one or two other races. What Porsche still isn’t talking about are competition plans for the 918 RSR that debuted at the Detroit Auto show. It now looks like the 918 won’t be racing until at least 2012.