Porsche is making headlines in Detroit, with the unveiling of its new hybrid race car at this week’s North American International Auto Show. The 918 RSR has been evolved from a blend of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid and the magnificent 918 concept car.
This closed sportscar has a cabin made of CFRP (carbonfibre-reinforced plastic) and is powered by a mid-mounted V8 direct injection engine derived from the RS Spyder customer race cars, along with electric motors at the front wheels, combining to give a total maximum power output of 767HP. As in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, there is a braking energy regeneration system, similar to KERS in F1, which provides an instant dollop of extra torque when it’s needed. The racing transmission is also based on the RS Spyder: an advanced six-speed gearbox operated via steering-wheel-mounted paddleshifts.
If Porsche returns to Le Mans, the scene of so many victories for the marque, it seems certain that it will do so with a powerful, yet efficient, hybrid engine. The hope that the 918 RSR Hybrid will be the car to carry the flag is reinforced by the race number, 22, of the NAIAS show car. This commemorates the 1971 Le Mans success of Dr. Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep.