This chat with Andreas Preuninger was conducted a few weeks ahead of the car's official unveiling at Geneva and before any details were made public. If you're reading this we'll assume you want to know ALL about the car and the full transcript of the private audience we had with him. If that's the case get yourself a brew and a comfy chair and enjoy! To see the main news story and comments click here.
Tell us about the car!
"Well what do we have? One step closer to perfection, the finest GT3 yet, the makeover of the generation one, the new '17 model year of the GT3 991. The 991 gen one was by far and away the most successful GT3 to date and we were overwhelmed by the success - it boosted the religion to another level."
Did it bring new people to the GT3 fold?
"New people to GT3, yes. All this hype, it can become a fashion; it attracts people. The former GT customer is still around and they are growing numbers. But there are as well people who come from Carrera S or GTS, they use the car relatively normally as a road car and I think with the introduction of the PDK on the gen one that became possible to use it as an all year round car.
"We are astonished when we get feedback from the market and we see the clock for the car and it says 40,000km. There's really a clientele that use the car quite a lot in the daily traffic, which hasn't been the case in the 996 or 997 car, absolutely not. On the other hand we have the go-fast aficionados who are very close to our heart to our brand and they love the car and they use their car for motorsport activities on the track at the weekend. And these are still around as well. The end of the story is yes, we attracted more people for the GT3, numbers are growing.
"This car is more than meets the eye but it is generation two and when you look at it seems powerful, purposeful yet also beautiful so it's another great effort the studio people are giving us. If you look at the front you see the new styling but it also has to have a function too. Function has to look beautiful, otherwise people won't like the function. It's very important the car has a certain appeal to the owner and you shouldn't get tired of the looks and they have to be timeless and typically GT3ish. And we have succeeded - if you look on that front we have the bigger openings than on gen one and we have the side indicator which you have there - it's not a styling gimmick it is an absolute necessary means to lower the drag coefficient and what we were looking at aerodynamically to reduce the drag on that car to improve the efficiency.
"We didn't want to change the drag coefficient but gained more downforce. After the distraction of the R project, where we were concentrating on driving and fun - with the R we didn't look too much on the values you need for faster track driving but with this we came back to business. And we're really looking for efficiency on the track and gasoline consumption - it serves the same purpose that's cool - and this [the new aerodynamically shaped DRL] provokes the air to hug closer the front part. This [the area in front of the wheel] is a very crucial area on 911s for drag. On the gen one we had a lip, protruding further here to create downforce because you can make a lot of downforce here but you were creating drag. And we sought ways on the GT3 non-RS version to make it very efficient so to find downforce which doesn't harm the drag coefficient. And at the same time it also looks beautiful, which is quite a handful!"
So no flics?
"This is different from flics, this is first to calm out the airstream at the side of the car there is a little bit of higher and low pressure management here too so the design of that trim doesn't block air coming in here because there's a low pressure zone here. It gets sucked in here in so there is no penalty in making the surface where the air can entry in smaller, so that's not the case and it's a nice styling feature too and it does something too.
"So, styling wise bigger openings; what you can't see, the coolers behind here are bigger and more efficient than gen one so the car is good for race track use in very hot conditions. The people that booked their driving event, they want to drive and with the PDK, that is a component that adds to the heat of the car, it gets a little bit hot hotter than the manual and you need to get rid of the heat. So we have bigger radiators and new fans and that is for the front part.
"The body in white the width of the car didn't change, it's the same and if we are talking about the aerodynamics we can't go to the back yet because - again - more than meets the eye and underneath the car there are some spoilers on the underside that accelerate the airstream that comes from the front to the back."
Did you have those on the gen one?
"No, they haven't been there before. We didn't touch the underbody of the gen one compared with the Carrera but now we did. What we found out is that you can make a decent amount of downforce using the diffuser. But we added a diffuser-like element at the middle and in front of the rear wheels to accelerate the air towards the rear diffuser, and that brings aero efficiency. In a way you can improve the downforce without harming the drag coefficient at all, it keeps the clean look and the car has 20 per cent more downforce than the gen one for the same drag coefficient, which is impressive.
"But it doesn't stop with the front, the middle and the underbody of the car! At the back if you look at the spoiler!"
What speed to you calculate downforce at?
"Normally we compare at top speed and if you look at the top speed of the car, and the downforce at top speed, it's about 155kg. We are the same region now as we were with the 997 second generation RS and it's about 20 per cent more than a gen one GT3, so this is about the maths to it.
"If you look at the rear spoiler it is very similar to the gen one but it sits up 20mm higher and 10mm further back. The part in itself is the same although not the end plates - we just mounted it differently, at the different angle and the rear lid is different. Here it has to work well with the wing and the trailing edge does a lot, it works in cooperation with the wing and the ram air intakes here so all these measurements, including the diffuser, make quite a tremendous difference."
Is this the diffuser you developed for the R?
"Yes, it's a similar part and we are using it now. We had to use it on the R to get additional downforce because we didn't have the spoiler - we had the same body parts and we wanted the car to be as stable as possible without showing off the bodykit because it was the fun car, the driver's car. But on a GT car there has to be a spoiler but if you have a diffuser you can put it higher up and at a different angle. We don't have to put it so high into the wind so you won't harm the drag coefficient and you can take the downforce from underneath to keep the same balance."
And we have a new rear bumper too?
"A big part of the development. The rear end is very GT3ish, very stylish, I like it very much. Both bumpers are new they are made from a patented special lightweight polyurethane which is about 1-1.1kg less per part compared to the old part - this is a cool feature without giving up any of the benefits in terms of flexibility or durability so that's quite a step forward.
"We don't carry on the big opening that was here [between the rear lights] so we transferred the opening onto here as with the RS for the ventilating air - that takes the hot air out of the engine bay onto the rear with the advantage that both scoops we see here are leading straight to the air filter and to the throttle body. On the gen one we ventilated the air into the ram air ducts as well in case you are in traffic and you have the hot air but now these things are completely linked to the throttle body, without any kinks or bends, so we have a better ram air effect."
Is that the same as the RS?
"No they are new parts and the channelling to the air filter is new as well. Talking about new things ... the engine is definitely another step forwards and these ram air ducts are especially designed to match the new intake system of the car and the 4.0-litre engine as a whole. And what you unfortunately can't see is that the engine has new parts throughout as well."
"Definitely the biggest step we took forward with this car was the engine itself, we have this new engine platform that we introduced with the 3.8 991 GT3 and then the 4.0-litre RS and now the 4.0 GT3 engine second generation ... it's a quantum leap and even a big step up from the RS engine. Technology goes on and we learn from the track because that kind of engine family we use in the GT3 R, in the race car it's the same family, we are on the same engine platform and the same technology and lots of parts in the second generation are in the race car. It's absolutely the same engine as in the new Cup car, for example. Last year's Cup car had a Mezger engine but now we are at full strategy fulfilment and have all our motorsport engines on one platform, even the new RSR.
"So the engine has a different crankshaft, a bigger crankshaft with bigger diameter main seals. It's a lot stiffer, it is drilled so there is central oil feeding so all the con-rod bearings get their oil from within it, it gets channeled through the crank to where it is needed this is all new for the second generation. We learned from motorsport, we need to use this kind of engine in motorsport as well. There has to be more meat in the engine to fulfil other requirements in the RSR and the R and that is a technology transfer because the same people that are responsible for the race engines build them for the road car as well.
"It is the same engine as the Cup car but it doesn't have the same exhaust system because it doesn't have to worry about being loud. It should be loud - especially in Supercup! The intake is a little different, it comes without flappers because you don't need low-down torque, you are always shifting beyond 6,000rpm maybe and you don't need all the emissions stuff. But I wasn't finished with the engine! We have a new set of pistons with a new set of high performance race technology ring package and we have different liners. We have coated cylinder liners on the bore that are very slippery because we are always looking for getting resistance out of the system - make it move freely and free up the power of the engine so it ends up at the wheels and doesn't get lost along the way."
Because it was so sluggish before, right?
[Laughs] "It was great, it will always be great but we wouldn't be engineers to be happy with that and go to bed, it goes on and on!
"But the main point on this engine is the cylinder head. We changed the valvetrain to almost a race car or motorcycle engine so we do not have any longer the hydraulic valve adjusters, we threw them out. So you cannot adjust the play in the valves, which is not necessary because it will never change because of the materials involved here. We ran one engine on the dyno for 300,000km and it did not change, not one a half a tenth and we did it several times. So the owners do not have to worry that they have to go to the dealer every 10,000km to adjust the shims.
"The advantage is you need a lower oil pressure because the hydraulic valve lifters, they need to be fed, they need pressure and oil lines through them ... this is a part that calls for a lot of oil pressure and to create oil pressure you need a pump. Mostly you need the oil only for the bearings but they don't need the pressure.
"We have new finger followers with a stiff connection to the valve without any hydraulic adjustment between, which makes it lighter, which makes it a lot lighter to turn, which makes the forces pressure forces between the cam lobe and the finger follower much less - it is about 20 per cent less - so the material is less stressed without the pressure and it just frees up horsepower by deleting it. These are elements which called for a different head design, which called for a different geometry - you can't just go to a gen one engine and take them out! It is a new head and it is worth at least six, seven, eight, nine horsepower, something like that just with less friction."
Does that mean more revs?
"It revs to 9,000 and it's a 4.0-litre. The 4.0-litre on the gen one [RS] did not rev that high; it could have revved that high it was not a problem. On the RS it was 8,800rpm and on the R it was 8,500rpm but this was for a different reason because of the single-mass flywheel and the clutch system. But on this car it is a 4.0-litre that can rev to 9,000 - it will have this virtue of revving explosively from 6,000 to 9,000 and this is a unique selling point on this car.
"The valvetrain is new with all the benefits I described. So if you lose the adjusters you lose weight, you lose complexity which is very cool - keep it simple stupid because that works best - and you reduce the friction between the rotating parts in the cylinder head, you can rev higher. You could rev higher in a race application but so far this is unique to the gen two."
At the moment is this the most advanced engine in the GT motor range?
"Absolutely, this is the absolutely the most modern engine of the family at the moment with the central oil feeding, with the new valvetrain, with the new intake. We have a new intake system as well with the two flappers now - gen one we only had one now we have two resulting in down low torque which is better and mid-range substantially. In addition to the 4.0-litre displacement that helps a lot with the mid-rpm 'snap' I would call it - the car really goes, it's able to rev explosively to 9,000. But if you are on a 180-degree bend and you have maybe 2,000rpm and go on the throttle it just goes. And the bandwidth of revs of the engine is just mind boggling.
"The oil system in itself has changed because through the installation of the central oil feed and the deletion of the hydraulic lifters - we could do some more changes to the oil pump and the whole oil pressure is lower because we got rid of some elements that were calling for higher oil pressure."
Nothing related to the early engine failures then?
"That was something completely mechanical, the bolts holding the con-rods and the coating it had, different story, this was it. People were saying 'it's the revs it's the revs'. Not at all, not at all, we are making 9,000rpm. But the car has to have decent power and it doesn't make any sense on the RS to make it rev any higher so the gen one RS had peaked out at maybe 8,100 and sharply dropped towards nine, so there wasn't any sense letting it rev any higher. But this one is different, it tops out a little later so it's worth it letting it hang out until later. These are the major differences, new valvetrain, new crankshaft, new cylinder walls and pistons and the resonance intake system is new.
"More than meets the eye! It's the changes under the body that nobody can see, it's the changes to the engine nobody can see, unfortunately that underwent a huge development programme, it's more the little things and in the interior. We took out some of the dampening to reduce the weight, to get some weight back because the bodyshell of the second generation - as always because of worldwide regulations - has some extra sheet metal welded in for safety. So we have to compensate for that and we are looking elsewhere to get the weight at the same level, it was 1,430kg before and it's 1,430kg now but 1,420kg with a manual gearbox. Which is the next big thing on that car!"
Sure is! Tell us about the manual then...
"Because now we are able to offer both versions - it's a non-cost option so you can choose. So if you're a race track driver going for a lap time on the track or when you're going use the car daily and you're too lazy to shift we offer the PDK, which is set up very emotionally with the resistance reduced as well. So we didn't just take it from the shelf and put it back in again - programming is a little different, it shifts a little bit quicker but nobody will notice that because it was lightning fast before. But the manual gearbox is the real news on the car and we have to confess it's the same as the R and we developed it for the R but had it in mind for the GT3 and we never made a secret out of that, even in the R presentation.
"It's a different flywheel, it's a dual-mass flywheel and not a single-mass one, which is very important on that kind of engine because now we have a stiffer crank and the engine behaves very differently on what we call the primary side. It is stiffer than the R crank and if you have a single-mass flywheel it is mounted directly on the crankshaft - the stiffer it is the different the swinging behaviour is and the more weight you put on the side and the more you harm the first main bearing. On the old crankshaft, because it was more flexible, it spread the load on the other bearings because the 'swinging' was different when it came into resonance. So the new engine with the single-mass flywheel up to this point in time is not possible, so I would suggest to people not taking the single-mass flywheel out of the R off the shelf ... it would fit but you would harm the engine. But the dual-mass flywheel is a bit different because the weight from the flywheel is sitting on the gearbox, not on the crank. But nobody will miss it because the engine is so explosive, even with the dual-mass. It is absolutely a dream, it goes it's so responsive, especially with the manual.
"You don't have the electronic diff on the manual because you don't have the power pack, the hydraulic pump there's just no space. But you need it on the PDK for the clutch system so it's there anyway and it can take this hydraulic pressure for the differential. The PDK version has a power actuator built in that you have to propel, that is resistance and you have two clutches that you have in the sump, resistance again. These are things you don't have in the manual, that's why there's a little bit more power getting to the wheels with the MT compared with the PDK but that's normal. We have a normal fixed value diff in that car, not a variable one like in the PDK which gives advantage on the track. So I would say the manual is the driver's fun car if you're not looking for the last tenth.
"It really qualifies for that new found niche with the R of the driver's car that lets you do something, this retro feeling a little bit and the GT3 with a manual does this very well. And we will satisfy the demand of all the people who didn't get an R, and this is I think the right way to do it."
Is it lighter?
"It's about 15kg, more saving on the R because of the single mass, in the back of the car. Ratios are the same, it's the same gearing as the R."
Does that mean it is slower than the PDK having one gear less?
"No, so the sixth gear is about the same reduction in the seventh on the PDK so the revolutions are about the same so the top speed difference is more to the MT car because there is less resistance. So the top speed is higher in the MT car, it goes 320km/h and PDK 318km/h. It's just a missing the launch control that you have in the PDK - the first few metres are unbeatable in the PDK, even a very good driver can't match this, but frankly when you use the car how often is 0-60 drill performed by the owner? It's theoretical a little bit, only you journalists are doing launch control all the time, the owners rarely."
Do we have a 'ring lap?
"You will laugh but if you look at the calendar when you present a car at Geneva in March. The last half year of the development, which is very important, is getting the fine tuning and getting the car to lap quickly, is in the winter time and you can't go to the Nurburgring. So the times we are doing are nearly a year old and we know for sure we got faster so we didn't make an attempt yet. But sure it will be quicker than the gen one it was our own drivers managed 7min 25sec with the old one. It's very hard to make a statement here with that one but I think it will be shy of 7:20."
With the PDK?
"PDK is definitely quicker, it's just simple, if you imagine same car, one with PDK one with manual maybe Hockenheim entering the main straight, maybe you have to shift three times and with every shift operation no matter how good the driver is the PDK car is maybe gaining a third of a car length That is what I said - for people living for the clock on the track PDK is the way to go. It boils down always to the question what you want from the car, what do you expect from the car, there's no right or wrong, just personal taste.
"We just wanted to give the people choices, there's no PDK gearbox or automatic gearbox in the world which is that emotional and it got even more emotional on the gen two with all that crackle on the downshift. It's just so much fun, but on the other hand PDK is perfect as well. It depends what you want from the car. My personal taste, maybe because it's a newer thing, I love the manual, maybe I'm getting old for race track. But being on a track definitely PDK."
After all the fuss it will be interesting to see how many people put their money where their mouths are and go for the manual - what do you think the split will be?
"This is very interesting ... 60:40 in favour of PDK maybe but nobody knows. But it will be interesting and whatever they tick we can supply the car, it is just something to look forward to.
"And this is a message I want to get across too. I got letters from R owners saying 'oh, I heard there is going to be a manual version of the gen two, now I have the R, I have to protect my investment'. And I say we are a company that produces cars, we live because we sell cars and we have to make a profit on the cars to go on. We are not a hedge fund so we cannot offer cars with a built-in promise to keep value for a small amount of chosen people, this is wouldn't fair. I mean the R will stand on its pedestal for ever, as with the RS 4.0 - with the RS 4.0 it didn't hurt that there was a 991 GT3, it didn't hurt that there was an RS, it didn't hurt that there was an R with a manual gearbox. RS 4.0 values are sky high, it is the same with the R, it is not challenged by that car but if we discover a niche or a want for a driver's car why shouldn't we do it, we are a motor company."
Did you consider a low-drag car with the manual but no wing?
"Maybe that would make sense!"
What about the suspension?
"Suspension is re-worked as well, so we have a very RS-ish suspension on the car, we have helper springs on the back - more than meets the eye again."
Did you have that before?
"On the gen one no, on the R we had them, carried over from the RS and we had some little tricks we did on that car. The dampers are a new set up, so the low speed or normal road comfort - as stupid as it sounds - is better than a gen one, more compliant. You can use it on B-roads in the UK better than the gen one, while at the same time more responsive and taut on the track. So the variety of use of this car is ... it was big on the gen one ... now it's bigger, it's better on the road and on the track."
What's the main benefit of the helper spring - is it keeping damper stroke while maintaining low ride height?
"This is one of the reasons but the main one is weight, we can use a shorter main spring and the travel when you go over a crest for example you don't need as much pressure to get the wheel down because there is gravity working for you. In summary it is mainly a weight thing and it has other advantages as well but it can save weight better. Because the helper spring is a lot thinner and smaller and lighter and for the travel out of the wheelarches with one spring you have to make compromises.
"And we have some changes in the wheel guiding material too in the lower wishbones, especially in the front, it is stiffer. There is one bearing we stiffened up a lot, which makes for better high speed controllability. If you have to steer at 150mph the car will be more precise."
Is the steering carried over?
"Steering is from the hardware the same but the software is the next level, we are learning a lot about the systems, on the gen one it was great, on the RS it was even better on the GT4 it was super cool - everyone commented that it was a dream on the R and this is the next step in feel and feedback. It's the best we've had so far.
"It is also a new spec tyre from Michelin and Dunlop, it's not a racetrack dry only tyre it's a tyre you can run on the street, it has enough safety on the road. We are not convinced by the strategy of a tyre that only works on the track with the ultra high performance tyres. You can be quick on a track but all the rest is definitely down the drain and we want to offer the best package, which causes some compromises but it's not this gung ho tyre you can only use on a track. But it's better than the last spec better on the road too, next step forward.
"And that is the idea behind the car, jump in Sunday morning, go to the track, do some laps and drive home again, not the trailering of the car - buy a GT4 Clubsport, a Cup car something like that. We know the people who use the car a lot on the track still use their car 80 per cent on the road."
Will production be limited?
"Production is not limited, but we have certain limitations in the daily outcome of how many cars we can build. Although we are open to it we cannot build 10,000, this car it will always be limited by the production capacity we have. We have about 4,000 or the last one and we are curious to see if that repeats, we are ready for that.
"The main market is US, as often these days, second biggest is Germany and then is England, so you are in the top three. But the additional consumers that bought the car are evenly spread, relatively evenly spread."
And what about the electronics?
"We have a new set-up on the stability control ... it's a loose bungee cord but it will save you but it gives you more room to play. Absolutely more slip than a Carrera and once it's off it's off, it doesn't come back after are in an emergency situation. One button and then you are on your own.
"But the set-up of the car is all done without the system active, so we first make the car very stable without anything on and THEN we are adjusting the system, not the other way around. My impression when I drive some cars of the competition is exactly that - the mechanical flaws of the chassis can easily be covered with systems and mostly it's when the system comes in early and then I am asking why. Ours come late because the chassis can take it."
Do you expect your customers to drive without the systems then?
"They want to be on their own sometimes; it's a safety thing, sometimes it's good to have it on the road when you are not concentrating as you are on the race track or a drift event. But we want the driver to be able to decide, not the car, they have to make their decisions. They are grown-ups, and they should be able to live with their decisions, I think that's just fair."
"Ceramics optional, we changed the calipers - something else the eye doesn't see but the pistons have another set-up so the brake pads are further from the rotor, less resistance, the car rolls better so you save gas, less resistance means more acceleration.
"With the PCCB it is 390mm at back, 410mm at the front while it is 380mm front and rear on standard brakes; they are good still. You get some weight off with the ceramics and the 410 disc looks really cool! To be frank on 100-0 in metres you won't feel that much of a difference but if you drive back to back you find yourself braking later on the track with the ceramics - it's there and when you turn in the rotating mass is less so dynamically it has advantages too. I would always go PCCB I think for weight if you don't track the car too much. If you really are a track racer you should go with the steel rotors just because of money."
What about inside?
"In the interior, we now freshen it up a bit with the 3D Alcantara stripe, which you can have or leave off it's up to you. 360 degree steering wheel black inserts ... no buttons. Because we think we have everything covered in the rest of the buttons - we like to have one button one function, this makes it easily available without having to go through some menus to be able to address it. Again it's keep it simple stupid, because I'm stupid!
"We have a new PCM system, the new generation in the gen two cars. We offer the RS seats without a folding position, adjustable in height with very light electric motors because I want to sit as low as possible because this is vital for the car. There is a lot of deadening material that went down the drain compared with the gen one so it sounds different from the inside. The R is clattering more, we didn't go as far as the R because the R has nothing at all, this has as much as the old RS has and the engine with the valvetrain has a different distinctive sound too, so even more mechanical noises. Different mechanical noises, so it's different but pleasing. The exhaust note is similar to the RS, we have a different exhaust on the back things are a little bit bigger - two or three millimetres bigger in diameter - and it all makes for a very special gen two atmosphere. You will notice the difference."
"Wheels are the same - we couldn't bring ourselves to ditch that wheel, it is such a nice wheel it deserves a second generation! We know a lot of people going for the black wheels. With the stripe I can live with it because it separates the tyre from the rim, I like it, a superbike look. At the moment it's optional and this is we are starting with the red but the exclusive line can reproduce whatever, it's painted."
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