Over the years, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has hosted hundreds of historic Porsches in its paddocks and up Lord March’s sinuous driveway, but this year the limelight was usurped by a newcomer from Weissach – the 95% new 992-based RSR for the upcoming WEC and IMSA campaigns.
The fact that Porsche chose to reveal its stunning new GT class contender at Goodwood is indicative of the importance of the annual Festival as a marketing tool for a company whose very existence is driven by motorsport. It was reputedly Ferry Porsche who espoused the philosophy of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ but in this case, it was revealed on Saturday and whet the appetites of Porsche racing fans for the upcoming racing season.
Around mid-day on 6 July, the covers were drawn off the new RSR on the start line of the famous hill and the keys to the new white beast were entrusted to one Gianmaria Bruni, the erstwhile Ferrari pilot who has more recently earned his spurs as a favourite son of Weissach.
Lovers of the Porsche marque will doubtless have seen many on-line videos of the new RSR testing and wondered about the sound. Gone is the piercing flat-six wail described by many as the most intoxicating sound in any class of motorsport and in its place, is a deeper, flatter exhaust note that evokes memories of the 962.
Truth be told, the RSR decibel count is higher than that of its famous forebear and could be better described as an amalgam of 962 and, heaven forbid, a current Ford GT. Having sought out the RSR in its remote paddock hiding place, all in the interests of a closer view, my timing could not have been better as the white shark was being readied for a run up the hill and was fired up as I stood along the right-hand-side exhaust exit. To say the close-quarters bellow caused me temporary alarm is an understatement – this motor remains LOUD even if the side exhausts, introduced primarily to allow more space for a larger and more effective diffuser, now deal with the waste of just three cylinders apiece.
Followers of the marque will spot a few obvious differences compared with the current GTLM model, mostly in the area forward of the windscreen, but it’s under the savagely-muscular haunches that the most significant changes have been wrought. The famous flat-six now displaces no less than 4200 cc, primarily in the interests of producing more accessible grunt across a wider range but also in true Porsche fashion, to make the driver’s life easier over long stints.
Whether Weissach’s best efforts to hold onto the GT championship crown will be stymied by BoP remains to be seen but let’s rejoice in the fact that Porsche is expending so much effort to set the pace in the GT classes just as the 2019 RSR has racked-up a record fifth consecutive victory in the American IMSA series.
While the aforementioned RSR definitely took the Porsche limelight, the Goodwood Hill was also alive to the sounds and whirs of many other Porsches, not least a veritable fleet of 917s sporting all the famous liveries of yesteryear.
Derek Bell, despite being a native of Sussex, was grinning like a Cheshire cat as he squeezed himself into the famous Martini-liveried 917 Le Mans Langheck while alongside, the red Herrmann/Attwood Kurzheck was fired up with a flat-twelve bellow that instantly drew smiles of delight from enthralled onlookers.
But it wasn’t all about noise as Mark Webber made a stealthy run in the hill in the ‘dynamic debut’ of the upcoming Porsche Taycan which from a pure decibel count was eclipsed by a thrilling ascent made by Dan Harper in a 911 GT3 Cup car that comfortably annexed the Modern Sports Racer class and in so doing, beat many open-wheeled racers.
Truth be known, the Festival of Speed isn’t solely about Porsches as it pays homage to the past, the present and the future of motorsport but there’s no disputing that the Volkswagen Group in all its iterations is rapidly establishing itself as the marque to beat when it comes to heritage and adaptation to future trends.
The performance of the Volkswagen ID.R, in setting an all-time fastest ascent of 39.90 seconds, unofficially consigned a 20-year F1 time to the record books, was nothing less than mind-blowing. But so too was the achievement of Petter Solberg in hurling the VW Polo WRX up the hill to such good effect, that this diminutive machine recorded the second fastest time overall in Sunday’s final shootout.
Written by: Richard Wiley
Images by: Richard Wiley