What does RSR mean?
The name RSR comes from the German ‘RennSport Rennwagen’ – a literal translation of which is ‘racing sport racing car’. It’s a nomenclature purely reserved for competition versions of the Porsche 911 that are not street legal. The first ever example of the RSR to hit the racetracks was the legendary 911 Carrera RSR 2.8 of 1973, based on the equally memorable Porsche sportscar, the Carrera RS 2.7.
The first ever Porsche RSR racecar
The RSR name made its debut in 1973 and – just like the current, soon to be outgoing, 911 RSR – it was based on a road-going model. The 2.8-litre Porsche 911 Carrera RSR was a race-focused variant of the Carrera RS 2.7, one of the most recognisable Porsche sportscars of all time courtesy of its innovative ducktail rear wing. Built for endurance racing, but lightweight and with its Carrera RS 2.7 family likeness still instantly recognisable, on its race debut it roared to overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona, piloted by American drivers Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg. That June, Dutch driver Gijs van Lennep and the Swiss, Herbert Müller, drove the 2.8 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR to a class win and fourth overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an average lap time of 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
When the Porsche 997 GT3 RSR won the 2009 FIA GT Championship
In 2009, the 997 GT3 RSR celebrated one of its biggest wins after securing the GT2 overall class win in the FIA GT championship. The Prospeed Competition car, driven by Britain’s Richard Westbrook, won four races and was runner-up in two of the eight-race series. One of the great RSR cars, other famous wins include the 2003 Daytona 24-hour race and multiple 24 Hours Nürburgring victories.
The RSR – from customer to works racing
The GT3 RSR – like RSR cars of the past – was run successfully by independent race teams. But in 2013, that all changed. The 911 RSR, whose illustrious Le Mans history comes to a close at the 2022 race, was immediately adopted by Porsche works teams. That year, the new factory Porsche Team Manthey won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class. The 911 RSR has gone on to become one of the most successful racecars in the company’s history, including winning the FIA World Endurance Championship in the 2018-19 season.
Actor Patrick Dempsey raced a Porsche 911 RSR in 2015
Known for his role in hit TV series such as Grey’s Anatomy, in 2015 actor and Porsche fan, Patrick Dempsey, competed in a full season of the FIA World Endurance Championship in a 911 RSR. Alongside co-driver Marco Seefried, his Dempsey-Proton Racing team finished sixth overall in the GTE-Am class. It included a second place overall in class at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 911 RSR was tested like no other GT car
When it comes to testing, no GT racecars were able to boast the levels of test kilometres than the 911 RSR was put through. In the case of the 2017 911 RSR – based on the type 991 911 – that translated to almost 35,000km of testing during development of this extraordinary Porsche racecar.
Retro liveries a winner at Le Mans in 2018
In 2018, two of the four factory Porsche GT Team 911 RSR cars at Le Mans adopted classic Porsche racecar liveries from the past – with great success. Car #92, in the historic Pink Pig livery, took the LM GTE-Pro class win, with one of its sister cars, the #91 911 RSR, dressed in the famous Rothmans design of the 1980s.
The 911 RSR was the first art car to win at Le Mans
Jörg Bergmeister, a Porsche brand ambassador and one of the most decorated of all Porsche racecar drivers, is used to making history. But in 2019, with the help of American artist Richard Phillips – an enthusiastic amateur racer and member of the Porsche Club of North America himself – he did something utterly unique. Richard dressed Jörg’s Project One 911 RSR car in a colourful, eye-catching wrap, which featured a selection of the artist’s work from the late 1990s. Jörg raced to victory in the GTE-Am class, helping bring down the curtain on a Le Mans career comprising of 17 Le Mans races between 2002 and 2019. “I didn’t want to tell Richard until after the race,” said Jörg at the time, “but no art car had ever won Le Mans before.”
The 911 RSR reaches more than 300km/h on the Mulsanne straight
In order to post fast lap times at Le Mans, you need to make the most of the circuit’s long straights. On the most famous of them all, the Mulsanne, this means that the 911 RSR hits speeds of over 300km/h – vital for overtaking. “The Porsche 911 RSR – like all other cars – is trimmed for very low drag. This means little downforce. It’s a dilemma, because we actually need maximum downforce, particularly in the fast Porsche Curves,” says Alexander Stehlig, Head of Operations FIA WEC for Porsche. However, the benefit of the great speed of the 911 RSR on the straights outweighs any that could be gained in the corners.
Family ties: the 911 GT3 RS and the 911 RSR
One of the most exciting things about every Porsche RSR racecar is how much they share their DNA with the Porsche 911 road car. And that especially goes for the current 911 RSR – and in particular the 911 GT3 RS (type 991). Of course, it starts with those familiar, flowing lines. But the similarities don’t end there. Both wear a proud, standout rear wing. A flat six-cylinder engine (the RSR boasts a slightly bigger capacity, at 4.2 litres than the 4.0-litre GT3 RS). Both develop around 520PS… in a nutshell, the 911 GT3 RS is the closest that a road-legal Porsche gets to the 911 RSR racecar.
The 911 RSR is a triumph of precision racecar engineering
When it comes to endurance racing events – like the 24h of Le Mans – the clue is in the name. Endurance is key when you are running non-stop for such a long time. “Our cars have to cope with around 20,000 gearshifts over the race distance,” said Romain Gineste, senior performance engineer in the Porsche GT Team, ahead of last year’s Le Man in September. During the Le Mans, on average Porsche racecar drivers depress the brake pedal about 4,000 times, while the temperatures of the brake pads and steel brake discs rise to over 400 degrees Celsius – and that’s just in the race itself, rather than practice and qualifying.
Hollywood star Michael Fassbender competed in his first Le Mans in 2022
One of the entrants driving an 911 RSR at Le Mans was actor Michael Fassbender. The Academy Award-nominated Irish-German star was one of three drivers who competed in the Proton Competition #93 car, one of ten teams at this year’s Le Mans that drove a 911 RSR. “It’s a sophisticated piece of machinery,” Michael says of the 911 RSR, which will continue to compete next year in the GTE-Am category following its final ever race in the GTE-Pro class this year. “I’m driving on my limit. The goal for me is to be in the position where I am driving the car at its limit.” Michael and his teammates eventually finished 16 out of 23 in the GTE-Am class.