2011 Detroit Auto Show: Porsche Introduces 918 RSR Hybrid Race Car [Big Picture]

Porsche is moving to the forefront of high-performance hybrid technology with its new 918 RSR Hybrid Racer car, revealed for the first time at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit just kicked off with a blast as Porsche rolled out its brand new 918 RSR hybrid race car. The 918 RSR combines the styling of the 918 Spyder concept car, first introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in March, with the flywheel hybrid technology of the successful 911 GT3 R, that competed in several races in 2010.

With its highly-efficient flywheel accumulator, the 911 GT3 R hybrid racing car proved to be an attention magnet during competition racing on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, during the American Le Mans Series races (ALMS) in Road Atlanta/USA and the ILMC run in China’s Zhuhai. It demonstrated its massive performance potential under realistic motor racing conditions against top competitors.

The 911 GT3 R Hybrid, referred to internally as the “Race Lab” actually surpassed the high expectations of Porsche Motorsport. Competitiveness, high reliability and exemplary fuel efficiency combined with top performance underscored the Porsche technicians’ basic idea of generating additional power in an intelligent manner. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid obtains its additional power from its own vehicle dynamics when braking. Porsche is now transplanting this technology into the mid-engine coupé 918 RSR, the motor sports version of the 918 Spyder concept car.

From the tradition established by classic Porsche long-distance race cars such as the 908 long-tale coupé (1969) and the 917 short-tail coupé (1971), the Porsche designers created a link to the postmodernism of the “form follows function” philosophy. In the 918 RSR, the lines’ elegant flow is dominated by muscular wheel arches, dynamic air intakes and a pulpit-like cockpit.

A visible fan wheel between the ram air intake tubes and a rear spoiler with RS Spyder dimensions additionally emphasise the racing laboratory function. The new “liquid metal chrome blue” colour which has been created underscores the sculptured curves of the forms, whilst the typical Porsche hybrid orange colour on brake calipers and the body’s longitudinal stripes lends remarkable touches.

A visible fan wheel between the ram air intake tubes and a rear spoiler with RS Spyder dimensions additionally emphasise the racing laboratory function. The new “liquid metal chrome blue” colour which has been created underscores the sculptured curves of the forms, whilst the typical Porsche hybrid orange colour on brake calipers and the body’s longitudinal stripes lends remarkable touches.

In the 918 RSR, the two electric motors offer a torque vectoring function with variable torque distribution to the front axle. This additionally increases agility and improves steering response. Mounted upstream of the rear axle, the mid-engine is integrated with a racing transmission also based on the RS Spyder race car. This further developed six-speed constant-mesh transmission with longitudinally mounted shafts and straight-toothed spur gears is operated using two shift paddles behind the racing steering wheel.

The vehicle’s functional equipment underscores its puristic motor racing character. Whether it be the characteristic doors which open obliquely upwards, the air intake in the roof between the wing doors, the quick-action locks on the front and rear CFRP lids, the two roof-mounted aerials for pit radio and telemetry, the RS Spyder-like small, lateral front flics or the air splitters beneath the front lip or no-profile racing slicks on 19″ wheels with central locking, the vehicle can be clearly recognised as an experimental racing laboratory.

With the new 918 RSR racing laboratory, Porsche is now elevating this motor racing hybrid concept to an experimental level. In the 918 RSR, “Porsche Intelligent Performance” equates to research into methods for further sustainable efficiency improvement under the intensified conditions of the race track, lap times, pit stops and reliability – a metier in which Porsche has been demonstrating its success for over 60 years.

Finally, the starting number, 22, pays homage to the anniversary of a further triumph. Back in the days when overall victories in Le Mans were not yet an entirely routine matter within the Porsche racing department, the pilots Dr. Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep were the first to cross the finishing line in 1971’s 24-hour classic.

The distance record set by their Porsche 917 short-tail coupé – 5335.313 kilometres (3315.21 miles) at an average speed of 222.304 km/h (138.13 mph) – did not remain unbeaten for an eternity, but for exactly 39 years until 2010. At the time, the 917 in the Martini colours was also an experiment and far ahead of its time: a magnesium space frame set new standards in Porsche’s lightweight construction domain.

While the original 918 Spyder was a conventional gasoline-battery hybrid, the new car uses the race-proven and more environmentally friendly flywheel KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) to augment its 563-hp direct-injected V8. The system employs a composite flywheel spinning up to 36,000 RPM, capturing braking energy as angular momentum and generating electricity for short bursts of acceleration. The Williams F1-inspired flywheel-based KERS powers two 75-Kw electric motors attached to the front wheels, giving the vehicle a peak output of 767 bhp for eight-second bursts.

Porsche is ahead of the racing world with its new high-speed hybrids. The 911 GT3 R raced unclassified, because there are currently no rules for hybrid GT cars. Called the “race lab” by Porsche engineers, the car was built and raced to prove the concepts under the toughest possible conditions—10-, 12-, and 24-hour endurance races.

The new 918 RSR is similarly outside the rules; it is an experimental racing laboratory for Porsche engineers to test their ideas for combining alternative power, fuel efficiency, and high performance. Porsche has not stated when and where the new car might first compete. American aficionados can hope for the upcoming 12 Hours of Sebring, though that seems unlikely, as the car has yet to do any long-range testing. . [Porsche via AutoBlog]

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