Porsche’s first RSR of the modern era was introduced way back in 2006 with the 997 RSR for the GT2 class of competition, and ever since, Porsche has been refining the formula to create the ultimate racing GT. With the 991-generation 911 RSR, the car got wider and more aggressive to level the playing field with ever stiffer competition from Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, BMW, and more. But that wasn’t enough, and regulations forced Porsche’s hand to flip the engine and gearbox around to create the current 2017-spec RSR. The 911 RSR has been a great racing car, netting Porsche ten wins in IMSA and ten wins in the FIA WEC, with resulting championships in each series.
Citing the economic downturn caused by coronavirus, Porsche has chosen to withdraw its 911 RSRs from the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar GTLM category effective at the end of the curtailed 2020 season. This pair of cars is entered in the series through a partnership between Porsche Motorsport North America and the CORE Autosport team with factory-backed Porsche drivers Fred Makowiecki, Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, and Laurens Vanthoor behind the wheel.
“The decision to halt our factory involvement in the IMSA series was not an easy one for us,” said Porsche Motorsport vice president Fritz Enzinger. “With a view to the current corporate situation in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic, it is only logical for Porsche Motorsport to make a contribution to coping with the economic fallout.
“We’ve openly discussed our exit with all involved. At this point, we’d like to convey our sincere thanks to Jim France and the colleagues at IMSA for their understanding. Porsche belongs in endurance racing. We will work hard to ensure that this is only a temporary Auf Wiedersehen.”
Is it possible that Porsche is only sitting on the sidelines for a couple of seasons while it develops a 992-based 911 RSR? Is Porsche looking into developing a new prototype racer for the upcoming LMDh category shared between IMSA and the WEC? Maybe Porsche wants to focus its efforts on customer racing like the international GT3 category for its current 911 GT3R? Of course Porsche is going to be tight lipped about all of this, and we won’t know until it actually happens.
I’d hate to see the American endurance racing landscape without Porsche for too long, as the GTLM class is currently only occupied by seven cars. Once Porsche leaves, the series will have just two Corvettes, two BMWs, and a single Ferrari to rely on. Can the GTLM category survive without Porsche? Heaven only knows.