Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid claims first success at the Nürburgring

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 29, 2011

Porsche is working with the philosophy of driving longer but refueling less. Porsche’s improved 911 GT3 R Hybrid triumphed at round four of the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship. The works drivers of the Version 2.0 race car include Richard Lietz (Austria), Marco Holzer (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA). Its direct rivals pitted three times to refuel but the Hybrid-911 only stopped twice. The best thing of all is that the Hybrid-Porsche had its first win.

The highly efficient Manthey Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR also had just two pit stops with Porsche factory drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) as well as Manthey pilot Lucas Luhr (Switzerland).

Its win led to Porsche celebrating a double victory. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid marks its second race outing in the 2011 Long Distance Championship. The carmaker had been heavily preparing for the Nürburgring 24 hour race on June 25 to 26.

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Motorsport at Porsche, said that the company is “pleased with the technical level of the vehicle and the reliability of the hybrid system.”

He said that Porsche was able to save one pit stop and since it had less external energy input, its lap times were just as fast. He added that is an example of what the carmaker means by Porsche Intelligent Performance.

It is said that it was none other than Porsche founder, Ferdinand Porsche, who developed the Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus, the first automobile in the world to be powered by a hybrid drive. As such, it comes as no surprise to learn that after 110 years, Porsche will be using this very same drive concept for the production version of its GT racing models. The first to be released with the hybrid technology is the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

While it is indeed created specifically for racing, it is not the only reason why this technology manages to stand out from among the many standard hybrid systems. In particular, it is due to the set-up made and the components used. For example, at its rear portion is the boxer flat-six 4.0-liter petrol engine capable of delivering output at 480 hp (353 kW). Meanwhile the front axle drive is now electronically controlled and carries two electric motors with each motor capable of offering output of 60 kW.

This power can later be added to the one already being given by the engine. In addition, with four driven wheels, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid not only has better agility but superior traction as well. Every model that comes out from Porsche is expected to follow what is known as the philosophy of the Porsche Intelligent Performance. What this idea proposes is that every Porsche should display more power and be more efficient but at the same time use less fuel and have reduced CO2 emissions.

This should be true whether the Porsche is being driven on the highway or on the racing circuit. Take for example the 911 coupe which is powered by the 6-cylinder engine with output at 345 bhp. Even with this amount of power, fuel economy combined is at 30 mpg with CO2 emissions measured at 225 g/km. This achievement remains to be unparalleled in its class and is but one illustration of the company’s philosophy of having excellent driving dynamics but have low running costs and reduced impact to the environment. So how does the 911 GT3 R Hybrid fare? It is actually the best example of this philosophy.

Porsche is known for coming up with unique engineering solutions that manage to combine everyday use with efficiency and performance. Examples of these include the double-clutch Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetreibe gearbox (PDK), Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), and the use of lightweight construction methods for the body. While most standard hybrid-powered vehicles make use of batteries, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid has an electric flywheel power generator which sends that needed energy to its electric motors located on the front axle. Since the generator is in reality an electric motor, it has a rotor that can spin up to 40,000 rpm.

It is then able to store the energy created mechanically as kinetic energy or rotation. The way it works is that once the brakes are applied, it is then that the generator starts to charge. Meanwhile the electric motors on the front axle are able to reverse their own functions and become generators themselves. The stored energy can be accessed should the driver need any additional power like overtaking other cars or getting out of a curve faster.

However under generator mode, the generator is electromagnetically slowed down and can therefore offer a maximum of 120 kW to the electric motors. This amount of power is already available just after 6 to 8 seconds of the charging process. This generator is located inside the cabin and mounted next to the driver. In some vehicles, every time the brakes are used, the energy is transformed to heat and is therefore nothing but a waste.

Inside the 911 GT3 R Hybrid though, instead of being wasted, energy is switched to become extra power. The hybrid drive however is not only available to access that additional power. Depending on the current racing situation, it can be utilized to help save fuel. Since it becomes possible to lower the weight of its fuel tank, the efficiency in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid is heightened and thus boosts performance in addition to making fewer pit stops.

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