When we saw the Porsche 911 GT2 RS's incredible 6:47.25 Nürburgring lap time yesterday, we couldn't help but wonder what made the car so fast. Sure, the GT2 RS has 700 horsepower, but on paper, it seems quite low-tech compared to the two previous Nürburgring lap record holders, the Lamborghini Huracan Performante and Porsche's own 918 Spyder.
After all, the GT2 RS doesn't have any fancy active aerodynamics like the Lamborghini, nor does it have any sort of hybrid drivetrain assistance like the 918. For answers, we spoke with Andreas Preuninger, the head of Porsche's GT car division, over email.
One big factor in the GT2 RS's performance is its tires. Like the 918 Spyder, it uses Michelin's excellent Pilot Sport Cup 2, but that tire has evolved quite a bit in the four years since the 918 set its Nürburgring record.
The tire used on the 918 was the "N0" spec Pilot Sport Cup 2, and Porsche worked with Michelin to develop two further variants—the N1 for the 991.1 GT3 RS, and the N2 for the GT2 RS. Each tire gets its own compound and construction to "to extract the maximum performance out of the car," according to Preuninger.
Essentially, thethan the 918 Spyder and 991.1 GT3 RS, despite the fact that all have Pilot Spot Cup 2s of the exact same size. That makes a huge difference on track.
While the GT2 RS doesn't use any active aero, it still generates a lot of downforce, helping it maintain high cornering speeds at the 'Ring. At the front, there's a big lip spoiler and an air extraction vent on the trunk lid, and at the rear, there's a big, manually adjustable wing. With the wing in its normal setting, the GT2 RS generates 750 lbs (340 kg) of downforce at its 211-mph top speed, and when it's set to its maximum angle of attack, that figure increases to 992 lbs (450 kg).
The GT2 RS's rear wing was set to maximum attack for the record run, which surely helped the car in the Nurburgring's many high-speed corners. But despite running a high-downforce setup—and therefore increasing drag—the GT2 RS still managed to hit around 193 mph on the Nurburgring's final straight. In contrast, the Huracan Performante hit 188 mph in the same spot.
But even knowing this, the fact that the GT2 RS ran nearly 10 seconds quicker than the 918 Spyder is still hard to believe. According to Preuninger, this is because the GT2 RS offers "[l]ess weight, more tire grip, more downforce, and more continuously available power" than the 918.
Preuninger notes that the 918 can't "boost with e-power all the time, everywhere," meaning for some of its Nurburgring lap, it was only relying on its 600-hp V8 engine. The GT2 RS makes 700 hp all the time.
The GT2 RS is also light—the car that set the record, a European-spec car with the optional Weissach Pacakge, weighs just 3241 lbs (1470 kg). In Europe, Weissach Package-equipped GT2 RSes get a titanium roll cage in place of a standard FIA-certified steel roll cage. US-spec GT2 RSes won't come with any sort of roll cage due to homologation reasons.
All of this adds up to a 911 that, according to Preuninger, is faster everywhere on the track than any other 911. "Corners, straights, you name it," he said.
Porsche also has a secret weapon in the form of Lars Kern, one of its test drivers. In after setting a four-door record with the Panamera Turbo, Kern revealed that he actually accelerates in the 'Ring's famous Karussell. A lot of drivers don't do this because of the Karussell's rough surface, but Kern said that it helps save some time. Preuninger also told us that Kern set the lap record with both traction and stability control switched all the way off.
Clearly, the dude can make his way around the Nordschleife.
Preuninger paints the GT2 RS's 'Ring-record run as a casual affair. Porsche had two hours a day on September 19th and 20th to set a laptime, with Kern and factory LMP1 driver Nick Tandy on hand to do the driving. Preuninger said that conditions on the 19th were too damp and humid, so it was a wash, but the 20th was ideal. The GT2 RS apparently broke the Huracan's record in its first lap out, and both Tandy and Kern set five laps under 6:50.
The cars didn't need much setup work either, just aero adjustments, per Preuninger. Both were unmodified too, save for a racing seat for the drivers. "Our cars don’t need to get dialed in a lot," Preuninger said, hence why they were able to set the record within their two-hour time slot.
If it sounds like Preuninger's bragging, that's because he is. See his LinkedIn posting announcing the GT2 RS's record, as captured by Autocar's Matt Prior, for more proof.
But given that his car just shattered the Nurburgring record by five seconds and beat Porsche's own 918 by nearly 10, Preuninger probably has the right to brag.