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Driving The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid At Estoril 7
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, porsche, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, video on 11 7th, 2011

Hear the term “hybrid,” and what comes to mind? A Toyota Prius parked in the Whole Foods lot, plastered with “Free Tibet” and “Coexist” stickers? A Honda CR-Z, getting walked by mopeds off of a traffic light? Chances are good that you brain isn’t conjuring up images of race cars, especially one with a Porsche crest on it, but that may change in the not-too-distant future. Hybrids can be built to boost fuel economy, or they can also be built with an emphasis on increasing performance.

Take the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, for example. It uses a conventional flat-six engine to power the rear wheels, but also has electric motors to power the front wheels. Electricity isn’t stored in batteries or capacitors, but instead in a cockpit-mounted flywheel; when needed (as when exiting a corner), the flywheel can supply enough energy to power each of the 102 horsepower electric motors for up to six seconds.

In this Road & Track video, technical editor Shaun Bailey shows us what it’s like to drive the GT3 R Hybrid around Portugal’s Estoril racetrack. Bailey downplays the noise from the flywheel mounted where a passenger seat usually sits, but I’ve heard others describe it as “unnervingly loud.” There’s also the pucker factor to consider; although the flywheel is enclosed in a stout, armored casing, should something go wrong the results would be… unpleasant for the driver.

Don’t be surprised when performance-oriented hybrids begin appearing over the next decade or so, changing our perception of what the term “hybrid” means to enthusiasts.

Porsche Builds A More Efficient 911 GT3 R Hybrid 17
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, hybrid, Hybrids, News, porsche, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, racing on 03 17th, 2011

Image: Porsche

In 2010, Porsche became the first automaker to campaign a hybrid race car in endurance racing events around the world. Their original 911 GT3 R Hybrid saw competition at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, as well as races in China and in the United States. Lessons learned from these competition outings were used to build a better 911 GT3 R Hybrid race car for 2011. In this case “better” doesn’t mean faster, but it does mean more fuel efficient. Porsche’s goal is to turn the same lap times as last year, but use less gasoline in doing so, and in endurance racing that savings can easily be the difference between winning and losing.

Image: Porsche

To meet their goals, the 2011 car has shed some 110 pounds, which makes it 20% lighter than last year’s car. Bodywork is more aerodynamic, which decreases drag, improves fuel economy and helps with top speed as well. The flywheel accumulator is similar to the design used last year, but is now encased in a carbon fiber safety cell on the passenger side of the car. The drivetrain remains the same as last year, with electric motors at the front wheels providing up to 200 supplemental horsepower for short bursts of speed (useful when passing opponents out of corners). The flat six engine in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid puts out 470 horsepower, which gives the car a combined rating of up to 670 horsepower. There’s a catch, though: the energy stored within the flywheel accumulator is depleted after only a few seconds of use, so the driver needs to be strategic in his use of the supplemental power.

Image: Porsche

Image: Porsche

Porsche will introduce the car at the 2011 24 Hours of Nürburgring race on June 25. Expect to see it run at least one American LeMans series race in the United States, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it run more races than that. More than any other manufacturer, Porsche is proof that racing improves the breed.

Source: Porsche