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Let's celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Porsche 911 GT2 [w/video]

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Above: 991 GT2 RS. Photo by Damon Lowney

Article by Damon Lowney
Photos courtesy Porsche unless noted

The 911 has been at the pinnacle of performance from the day it was unleashed on the public in 1964, but the most radical form of the rear-engined sports car didn’t surface until 25 years ago at the 1995 Geneva International Motor Show: the 911 GT2. Since then, Porsche has produced several more GT2s and GT2 RSs for each successive generation of the 911.

993 GT2

When the 993 Turbo launched in 1995, it was the fastest Turbo Porsche had produced, but it also had gained all-wheel drive and weight compared to previous 911 Turbos. Fortunately, Porsche was compelled to homologate a turbocharged 993 for international GT2-class racing and in 1995 unveiled the 911 GT2 at the Geneva International Motor Show.

The biggest change from the 911 Turbo to GT2 was the removal of the all-wheel-drive system to both decrease weight and conform to GT2-class homologation rules, yet there were several other updates to make it into a formidable, lighweight road car. The 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged flat six received an increase in boost from 11.6 pounds per square inch in the Turbo to 13.1 psi in the GT2, resulting in 424 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. Drivers shifted gears with a modified version of the six-speed manual in the Turbo. Additional measures to reduce weight included lightweight glass for the rear and side windows as well as manual window operation; deletion of the rear seats and removal of sound-deadening material; interior door handles replaced by fabric loops; power seats swapped with racing bucket seats; and air bags and air conditioning removed in standard trim (available as options). Of course, some weight was added back, in the form of a roll cage. Overall, weight was reduced by 440 pounds in the transformation from 3,284-pound 911 Turbo to 2,844-pound GT2.

The car was lowered 0.78 inches on adjustable suspension, with three-piece 18-inch Speedline wheels tucked into wheel-arch extensions screwed onto the body. All of the modifications allowed the GT2 to do 0-62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) in 4.4 seconds and go on to a top speed of 183 mph. For the last model year, 1998, Porsche equipped larger turbochargers that increased output to 444 hp and 431 lb-ft of torque, raising top speed to 186 mph. This updated model is much rarer than the earlier cars, with only 21 produced. Unfortunately, the 993 GT2 road car never was officially sold in North Ameica.

996 GT2

The next GT2 was launched during the 996 generation of the 911, and this time it was sold in North America for model years 2001-2004. In addition to using the new 996 platform, it also made the switch from air-cooled to water-cooled flat six. The superior chassis of the 996 matched well to the 3.6-liter 456-hp engine, which made more power with higher boost, larger intercoolers, and an exhaust with less back pressure.

Power was sent exclusively to the rear wheels. The removal of all-wheel drive and rear seats as well as the first use of carbon-ceramic brake discs and other weight-reducing measures dropped weight to 3,130 pounds, a not inconsiderable 220-pound reduction compared to the 996 Turbo. 0-60 mph happened in 4.0 seconds, while top speed was 195 mph. A manually adjustable rear wing paired with larger front air intakes and an opening in front of the hood increased downforce and improved cooling. Revisions to panels under the body reduced air flow under the car by 60 percent and helped cool the six-speed manual transmission. As with the original 993 GT2, the suspension was totally adjustable. For the 2004 model year, the 996 GT2’s output increased to 477 hp, and a carbon-fiber rear wing became available as an option.

997 GT2

For the 2008 model year, a few years after the 997-generation 911 was launched, Porsche launched a new GT2. This one had a 530-hp 3.6-liter engine, which was again connected to a six-speed manual transmission. The turbochargers had larger compressor wheels and turbines, the latter of which used Variable Turbine Geometry, allowing the vanes to be angled optimally for better low-rpm throttle response as well as top-end power. It was the first time such technology was used in a GT2. A titanium exhaust dropped about 20 pounds compared to the Turbo’s exhaust. The 0-60 mph time dropped to 3.6 seconds, while top speed increased to an eye-watering 204 mph.

The 993 and 996 GT2s were two of the last Porsches to not have electronic stability and traction control, a feature that was added to the 997 GT2. The car also came equipped with active dampers for the first time, which helped keep the 19-inch wheels glued to the pavement. The adjustable suspension added more toe adjustment by mounting shims to the bottom wishbone. The 997 GT2, which weighed 3,175 pounds, was able to lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 32 seconds, the same time as the Carrera GT supercar of a few years earlier.

997 GT2 RS

Photo by Damon Lowney

Not content with the 997 GT2, Porsche followed it up with the first 997 GT2 RS, a ballistic land-missile that put 620-hp to the ground with a six-speed manual transmission. It became the most powerful road-going Porsche produced, able to lap the Nüburgring-Nordschleife in 7 minutes and 18 seconds. In addition to the huge increase in power, the GT2 RS was even lighter than the GT2, particularly when equipped with the optional carbon-fiber front fenders, which joined the standard carbon fiber hood. In its lightest form, with air conditioning and radio optionally deleted, it weighed 3,020 pounds. Despite its wider body, the weight reductions and power increase gave the GT2 RS a 205-mph top speed, equivalent to the Carrera GT. The chassis was basically the same as the contemporary GT3 RS, the GT2 RS’s naturally aspirated sibling, which meant rubber suspension bushings were replaced with metal ball joints and helper springs. The 997 GT2 RS was limited to 500 examples.

Photo by Damon Lowney

991 GT2 RS

Photo by Damon Lowney

For the 2018 model year (a handful of 2019 models were also produced), Porsche gave us the 991 GT2 RS, the first GT2 to be offered with a double-clutch PDK automatic transmission and no option for a manual. Porsche’s reasoning: PDK shifts faster than any human can shift a manual, which is ideal for a street-legal car that was built to go as quickly as possible on a race track. Built from the bones of a 911 Turbo S, the 991 GT2 RS again utilized rear-wheel drive in place of the Turbo S’s all-wheel drive system. The 3.8-liter flat six finally reached 700 hp, offsetting some of the weight gained in transition from the 997 model. At 3,241 pounds, the 991 GT2 RS  was still relatively lightweight compared to the 3,500+pound Turbo S. The latest GT2 RS featured carbon fiber front fenders and hood, as well as lightweight carpeting and wiring harness. Ordering the optional Weissach package equipped lightweight magnesium wheels and replaced the magnesium roof with even lighter carbon fiber. The 918 Spyder hypercar lent the new GT2 RS its carbon-ceramic brakes.

The GT2 RS, with all its power and light weight, was able to lap the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in a record-setting 6 minutes and 47 seconds, the quickest time ever in a stock road car. (Shortly after the record was reclaimed by Lamborghini.) The GT2 RS also set records at Road Atlanta (1:24.88) and Road America twice — once by pro racer Bryan Sellers in collaboration with PCA (2:17.04), and then later by pro racer Randy Pobst in collaboration with Porsche (2:15.17).

Over the past few years, PCA has filmed several videos featuring various GT2 RSs. Scroll down to watch them all.



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