It was a clear day in April, typical of those late winter/early spring days when the weather was trying to impress by showing signs of warmth, but not really succeeding. My assignment that day at Donington Park, was to attend the delivery, off-loading and testing of two well-used, and successful GT race cars. The subjects of my attention that day were the 2007 model Porsche 911 RSR (997.1) and the 2009 model Porsche 911 RSR (997.2), both cars sponsored by the Felbermayr company in period, and familiar to many.
Technical brief (chassis #799937)
The Type 997 GT3 RSR was originally introduced in GTE spec in 2007, replacing the 3.6-litre 996 GT3 RSR. The 3.8-litre engine of the new 2007 model GT3 RSR was based on the power unit fitted to the roadgoing GT3 RS, but was specially modified for motorsport use, and confusingly, the GT3 RSR ran in the GT2 class in period. The new 997 GT3 RSR was aerodynamically more efficient than its predecessor, and as a result, wider wheels were required to handle the greater performance potential. A much improved 6-speed sequential gearbox was installed.
Technical brief (chassis #799918)
One distinguishing feature of the new 2009 model GT3 RSR was the redesigned front with large air outlets or louvers, on the front hood. The redesigned air ducting of the radiators was necessary due to the new design of supply and discharge air for the installation of an optional air-conditioning unit. The vents in the hood were for the air-conditioning radiator outlet. This was the first time that Porsche had run air-conditioning in a race car. The rear of the cabin behind the driver was blanked and sealed off with a transparent panel, which effectively reduced the cabin size, allowing a smaller, more efficient air-con system. They also put an insulating coating on the shell in the engine bay and gearbox area to reduce heat transfer. The cabin air temperature probe is located right next to the driver’s head, mounted on the safety cage.
The capacity of the familiar six-cylinder boxer engine was increased from 3.8- to 4.0-litres, but after another reduction in the size of the air restrictors for the 2009 season, the engine now delivered around 450bhp (331kW) at 7800rpm. In the cockpit, a new multi-function display located above the dashboard indicated the optimum moment to change gears. Another new feature was the programmable multi-function, on-board supply system control device, giving teams the choice of many individual functions. The position of the rear wing and the shape of the wing mountings also underwent optimisation and were adapted to the new rear fairing with additional air outlet louvers. The rear lid was also redesigned for optimised air ducting.
At first glance, the two cars look very similar, but there are indeed important differences which are more easily discernible when the two cars are viewed together. The earlier car, WP0ZZZ99Z7S799937, is a 2007 model 911 RSR (Type 997.1), and was run in Felbermayr colours throughout that season, with an additional race in 2008 and one in 2010. The later car, WP0ZZZ99Z9S799918, is a 2009 model 911 RSR (Type 997.2), and was also run in Felbermayr colours throughout the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 ELMS seasons, with its last major race being the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2014. Its career then comprises four full seasons which included the Le Mans 24 Hours each year, plus the 2014 entry, making it a five-time Le Mans entry – quite an astonishing record of achievements.
When the cars were delivered to Donington earlier this year, it offered an opportunity to get up close and personal with two race cars that were quite familiar to me as I had photographed them both frequently as from 2007 and 2009 respectively. The two owners were understandably thrilled to take delivery of the cars, beaming as they did, from ear to ear. The schedule that day was to prep them for the track, and to take them out and give them a bit of a shake down and for the owners to get to know the cars. This offered me an additional opportunity to photograph them on track. At this stage though, early in the morning, neither car was numbered which made things slightly tricky when trying to identify them on track. The easiest way to tell them apart I found, was that the earlier car had white mirrors while the later car had black mirrors on stalks.
First a bit of history. The earlier of the two cars, chassis #799937, made its debut in the first round of the 2007 European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the 1000km of Monza on 15 April that year. Driven by Xavier Pompidou/Marc Lieb, the #77 car finished 21st overall and eighth in class. The second round of the ELMS, the 1000km of Valencia on 6 May, saw the same pairing notch up the car’s first class win, finishing 18th overall.
June of course was the month for the Le Mans 24 Hour, and for this race the trio of drivers included Horst Felbermayr Sr. & Jr. and Philip Collin. “We were all gentlemen drivers,” Horst Felbermayr Jr. revealed to the author. But why Porsches I asked, “The history is in our family, because my father has loved Porsches ever since he was a young man. He raced Porsche in the 1970s in Austria, but then he gave up racing and only started again when I was 25 years of age,” he added.
Felbermayr, the Austrian-based heavy-duty transport company owned and run by the father and son team of Horst Felbermayr senior and junior, would sponsor the car for the whole season. Wearing the familiar two-tone blue livery, the Austrian company’s colours, the #71 Porsche 911 RSR looked purposeful as it took to the starting grid for the 75th running of this legendary French endurance race on 16/17 June 2007. In fact, the Felbermayr father and son team would compete together four times in the Le Mans 24 Hours: 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Running the team at Le Mans in 2007 was Peter Seikel, an experienced racing driver and team manager. Having established his team Seikel Motorsport in 1968, Peter Seikel ran race teams in the German national series, moving to international events with Audi, BMW, Ford and Toyota, before settling with Porsche cars as from 1994. This was the first time that Seikel had run a Porsche team, but a fruitful relationship with the Stuttgart manufacturer developed that ran until his final Le Mans in 2007, a race that signalled Peter Seikel’s retirement and the closure of the team. Unfortunately for the team and the drivers of the #71 Porsche, the car was forced to retire after just 68 laps, marking a disappointing end to a memorable Le Mans presence for Seikel Motorsport.
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (chassis #799937) competed in all the remaining ELMS races in 2007, scoring two further class victories (Spa in August, and Interlagos in November) with a second-place finish at the Nürburgring in July. Apart from the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Xavier Pompidou/Marc Lieb pairing drove in all the ELMS races apart from the final Interlagos race, where they were joined by the German driver, Marc Basseng. This admirable record of achievements saw chassis #799937 finishing the 2007 season as runner-up in the ELMS that year.
In September 2008, the #88 GT3 RSR was rolled out for action once more in the Silverstone race in the hands of Horst Felbermayr Jr. & Sr. and Christian Ried, where it finished fifth in class. The Porsche GT3 RSR had one further duty to perform, and that was the race at the Hungaroring 1000km on 22 August 2010.
Following the car’s commendable achievements, it was parked up in the Proton workshop. For this reason, the car is today just as it finished its last race. It is still a full matching numbers car, it was never crashed and never had a replacement engine, and is completely original, making it a rare beast indeed.
The second car, chassis #799918, broke cover on 5 April 2009 when it raced in the 1000km of Catalunya, the opening round of a five-race 2009 Le Mans Series season. At this race, Horst Felbermayr Jr./Francisco Cruz Martins/Christian Ried brought the car home in 23rd place overall and seventh in the GT2 class. At the second race of the season, the 1000km of Spa on 10 May, the same trio of drivers finished 31st overall and 11th in the GT2 class, a result that should be viewed against a starting field of more than 50 cars.
Racing under the Endurance Asia Team colours in the Le Mans 24 Hours on 13/14 June 2009, the trio of Darryl O’Young/Philippe Hesnault/Plamen Kralev failed to finish due to fuel problems. The problem in this race was down to Porsche having the radiator too close to the fuel pumps which caused bubbles in the fuel lines. The next morning, after sitting all night, the car fired up perfectly. As a result of this fault, Porsche modified the fuel lines and pumps. The next race was the third round of the Le Mans Series, the Algarve 1000km on 2 August, run at the Portimao Circuit (Portugal). This was a very disappointing race for the team, as it only lasted one lap when the Felbermayr car was involved in an early accident.
The remaining two races of the 2009 Le Mans Series went much better, as chassis #799918 notched up a 19th overall and seventh in class in August at the Nürburgring, followed by a 31st overall and eighth in class at the season-ending round at Silverstone. To round off the season, chassis #799918 was entered by Proton Competition in the 1000km of Okayama. The inaugural Asian Le Mans Series season in 2009 consisted of just a single event, the 1000km of Okayama. This was held on 30 October and 1 November at the Okayama International Circuit (Japan) with one 500km race on each day. In these two heats, Marco Holzer/Christian Ried were reasonably successful, finishing 15th overall and fourth in class in the first race, and 12th overall and second in class in the second race.
The 2010 season
The 2010 LMS season once again consisted of five races, Paul Ricard, Spa, Algarve, Hungaroring and Silverstone. The opening race at Paul Ricard on 11 April saw the car’s best result in 2010, with a second-place finish in class. In June, chassis #799918 was once again entered in the Le Mans 24 Hours, where it was driven by Horst Felbermayr Jr. & Sr. together with the Slovakian driver, Miroslav Konopka. The trio brought the #88 GT3 RSR home in 24th place overall and eighth in class. To bring chassis #799918’s racing activities to a close in 2010, Proton Competition entered the 1000km race in Zhuhai, China on 7 November, which formed part of both the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the Asian Le Mans Series that year. Here Christian Ried/Gianluca Roda/Martin Ragginger finished eleventh overall and fourth in class.
The 2011 season
In 2011, the LMS season comprised five races once again, but here Imola and Estoril replaced the Algarve and Hungaroring rounds. The Paul Ricard opener saw chassis #799918 notch up its first class win, when Horst Felbermayr Jr. & Sr. together with Christian Ried won the GTE Am class in the #88 Porsche. A fifth-place finish at Spa in May was followed in July by a Not Classified at Imola, but a sixth at Silverstone and a fine third place finish at Estoril brought the series to a close that year. At the Le Mans 24 Hours on 11/12 June, the #88 GT3 RSR was driven by Nick Tandy/Bryce Miller/Abdulaziz Al-Faisal, but they recorded a DNF after an accident on lap 169. Nick Tandy recalls what happened, “We retired the car due to a front tyre failure/delamination at high speed in the night with Al-Faisal driving. The tread ripped through all the electronics in the wheel housing and I believe, but cannot fully remember, the cooling system as well. It was the damage caused by this [tyre] that led to the DNF.”
The 2012 season
With the World Endurance Championship (WEC) starting in 2012, many of the teams that had previously raced in ELMS instead entered the new WEC. For starters, the LMP1 class ceased in the ELMS and became the top class in the WEC, and this also saw many spectators switching loyalty to the new series. Added to this was the decision that the ELMS would not run on the same billing as the WEC, and this saw several of the ELMS races being cancelled that year due to lack of entries. The Spa and Silverstone races were taken up by the WEC and the ELMS was left to find new circuits, which saw rounds at Zolder, Brno and Algarve cancelled due to lack of entries. As a result, the ELMS was almost a non-starter in 2012.
The 2013 season
For the 2013 ELMS season, the races were shortened from six hours to three hours, and this year included rounds at Silverstone, Imola, Red Bull Ring (Austria), Hungaroring and Paul Ricard. Wearing the #77 for the new season, chassis #799918 started well with a class win in the hands of Tandy/Roda, finishing a fine fifth overall. The following month at Imola, Christian Ried/Gianluca Roda/Paolo Ruberti brought the car home in fifteenth place overall and fifth in class. In July, the ELMS visited the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, for the first time, and here Nick Tandy put the car on class pole for the race. In the race the trio managed a nineteenth overall place and eighth in class. In the penultimate round at the Hungaroring, Ried/Tandy/Bachler scored the car’s second class victory of the season, finishing a commendable seventh overall. The end of the season seemed to offer rich pickings for chassis #799918, as the Hungaroring victory was followed by a third-place finish for Ried/Roda/Ruberti in class at Paul Ricard, and eleventh overall. In the Le Mans 24 Hour race on 22/23 June, Christian Ried, Gianluca Roda and Paolo Ruberti finished in 35th place overall and eighth in class.
The 2014 season
The final competitive race for chassis #799918 in period was on 14/15 June 2014 in the Le Mans 24 Hour race, where the French trio of Emmanuel Collard/François Perrodo/Markus Palttala took the wheel. The car, wearing the #75, was entered by Prospeed Competition but unfortunately retired with a wheel problem. This was the car’s fifth and final entry in the classic French endurance race, a remarkable record which included 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.
For the 2015 and 2016 seasons, chassis #799918 sat idle in the Proton Competition workshops, as the owners found that the RSR was not sufficiently competitive when others in the same class were allowed to run unrestricted.
Following this day out at Donington in April, the two cars did not compete further in 2017, but both owners have plans for the new racing season in 2018. Readers will be familiar with the Global Endurance Legends which holds high speed demo runs for owners of GT and sports prototype racing cars of a type that raced during the 1990s and 2000s. At this stage, these are not competitive races, but rather high speed demo runs. Also on the cards in 2018 is the new Masters Endurance Legends series, which will cater for all cars that were eligible to enter the major endurance racing events between 1995 and 2012. The first of these, a taster race, was held at Spa between 15-17 September 2017, and a full racing season for this series will be held in 2018.
The two Felbermayr Porsches shown above would be eligible to run in both of these series, the Global Endurance Legends and the Masters Endurance Legends, so watch our website for announcements in the near future.
Technical data (2007)
|Bore x stroke||102.7 x 76.4mm|
|Maximum power||465bhp (342kW) at 8000rpm|
|Maximum torque||435 Nm at 7250rpm|
|Air restrictors||2x 29.6mm|
|Valve train||4 valves/cylinder, DOHC|
|Electronic engine management system||BOSCH MS 4.0|
|Engine dry weight||174kg|
|Gearbox||Six-speed sequential dog type manual transmission, straight cut gears re-designed for optimised drive shaft angle|
|Dimensions & weight|
|Track||front: 1565mm; rear: 1620mm|
|Production||about 37 cars produced|
Technical data (2009 updated to 2011)
|Bore x stroke||102.7 x 80.4mm|
|Maximum power||450bhp (331kW) at 7800rpm|
|Maximum torque||430 Nm|
|Air restrictors||2x 28.6mm|
|Valve train||4 valves/cylinder, DOHC|
|Throttles||individual throttle butterflies|
|Price||from £342,740; €380,000; $500,000|
|Production||about 20 cars produced|
Thanks to the following for their assistance with this feature: Paul McLean; Paul Howells; Christian Ried, Proton Competition; Horst Felbermayr; Rob Durrant, Senior Press Officer, Porsche UK; Robert Overholser, Lufteknic
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale & Paul Howells