Porsche RS Spyder (9R6) 2005, Evo 2007, DFI 2008
Premiere: October 16, 2005, Laguna Seca, CaliforniaEngine: 3.4V8, normally aspirated
Gearbox: 6-speed sequential with paddle-shift
The Porsche RS Spyder, internally called 9R6, exists only thanks to a customer order made in 2004 by Penske Motorsports, a subsidiary of Penske Racing.
This Le Mans prototype was not built for the factory racing team which was killed off in the end of the nineties by CEO Wendelin Wiedeking after the company founder Ferry Porsche had passed away. Wiedeking terminated the Porsche 9R3 LMP1 racing car project in 1999, even though the engineers had already fully built the full carbon-fibre racing car with the new 5.5V10 Porsche engine. Wiedeking made the decisions based on financial reasons and ignored the factors of passion and motorsport that had made Porsche what it was. On the other hand, the 9R6 was an LMP2 class car, so not a top class racer. In prototype racing Porsche would not be interested in anything less than the top LMP1 class.
The 9R6 was built according to the Le Mans Prototype class 2 (LM P2) regulations and to be raced at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in USA and Canada. The ALMS was created in the spirit of the Le Mans endurance races, hence the name of the series.
In June 2005, the first 9R6 was completed and testing started.
The 9R6 was a full carbon-fibre construction. The completely new 3.4V8 normally aspirated engine had a power output of 351 kW (478 DIN hp, 470 SAE hp) and 272 lb-ft/370 Nm of torque. The power was governed with air restrictors complying to regulations. The 6-speed sequential transmission was operated from the steering wheel. The clutch was a triple-disc carbon fibre unit. The brake discs were carbon ceramic, measuring 380 mm at the front and 355 mm at the rear. The minimum weight set by the rules was 750 kg (1653 lb).
In July 2005, the car got its name: RS Spyder.
The RS Spyder was created for the 2006 ALMS season, but in order to kick off right from the start of the season with some experience under the belt, it was planned to race the car already in the end of 2005. The "Petit Le Mans" race in Atlanta on October 1, 2005, didn't work out for the RS Spyder team, so the Laguna Seca 4h race on October 16 was the last chance for testing in racing conditions. There was no real competition in the LMP2 class and as the new Porsche ran without problems, the class victory was taken. The Penske RS Spyder was piloted by Porsche factory drivers Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr who were the test drivers during the development process of the 9R6. In overall classification the result was 5th following four LMP1 class cars (Zytek, Audi, Lola, Audi).
It was agreed that Penske will run two RS Spyders in the 2006 ALMS season and that in the future Porsche is allowed to sell the cars also to other teams. While chassis LMP2001 was a factory test car, LMP2002 and LMP2003 were sold to Penske.
The Penske cars didn't finish the first two races of 2006. Points were still collected when the covered distance was at least 70% of the winner's distance. After the bad start to the season, at the third race, the American Le Mans Series Mid-Ohio race, Penske took the 1-2 overall victory in front of Audi LMP1. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas piloted the winning RS Spyder #7 (LMP2 003) and Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr the second place RS Spyder #6 (LMP2 002).
In the 2006 ALMS LMP2 there were only two teams which ran the whole season. Penske came out on top of Intersport which ran Lolas with 2-litre AER turbo engines. In LMP2 driver's standings Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr collected the biggest number of points. For the next season, a new version of the RS Spyder was created.
RS Spyder Evo and Evo DFI
The RS Spyder got a new body for the 2007 season. These cars were called RS Spyder Evo. Instead of the earlier LMP200x chassis numbers, they were now in the form of 9R670x, where "7" stands for 2007.
Penske Motorsport bought two new RS Spyder Evos for 2007 (chassis 9R6702 and -03). Other two Evos were bought by Dyson Racing (9R6704 and -05). The competition in the ALMS was a bit better than a year before. The fight for the 2007 championship title was held mostly between the 2 teams running Porsches (4 RS Spyder Evos in total) and three teams that used Acura (Honda) 3.4V8 engines in their LMP2 prototypes.
In 2007 ALMS season Penske was dominant in LMP2 and Dyson came second in team standings. In driver's standings Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard shared 1st and 2nd and Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe 3rd and 4th (all Penske).
For 2008, Penske acquired two new cars, chassis number 9R6801 and -02 (note the 2008 chassis numbers). Dyson used its Evos from previous season. In Europe, the racing season had not started yet and Swiss team Horag took its Evo (9R6707) to Sebring, Florida, to get to know to its RS Spyder before the first race in Europe.
In Europe the RS Spyder was first seen at the Le Mans test day on March 3, 2008. These were the Evos of Dutch team Van Merksteijn Motorsport (9R6708) and Danish team Essex (9R6709). On March 15, 2008, great news came from Sebring. Five RS Spyders had started the 12 hour race among others and the 1-2 RS Spyder victory was taken in front of Audi LMP1 cars. The winning Penske car #7 was driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Emmanuel Collard and the Dyson car was driven by Andy Lally, Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti.
The overall victory of Sebring 12 hours with the LMP2 car was so special achievement that the winning RS Spyder Evo (the last chassis made, number 9R6802) was preserved for the Penske collection. From the next race, chassis 9R6710 became the new #7 Penske car.
The first race in Europe where the RS Spyders participated, was Catalonia 1000 km in April 2008. All the three European RS Spyder teams participated. The #34 car driven by Jos Verstappen, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Peter van Merksteijn won the LMP2 category.
Two RS Spyder teams, Merksteijn and Essex, participated at the 2008 Le Mans 24 hour race. The LMP2 category was won with the #34 RS Spyder Evo of Van Merksteijn Motorsport (drivers Peter van Merksteijn, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Jos Verstappen). They finished 10th overall after LMP1 cars. Second in LMP2 was Team Essex with their #31 RS Spyder Evo. The LMP2 Porsches didn't see any real competition from other LMP2 cars - even five GT1 cars were faster that the third LMP2 car.
Mid-year 2008 arrived the direct fuel injection (DFI) engines which gave more power while even lowering the fuel consumption. Direct fuel injection means the injector injects the fuel directly into the cylinder and not into the intake manifold. DFI makes it possible to shift gear at full throttle. At partial load (during the yellow flag phases), the engine runs extremely lean. The power figures went up from 351 to 370 kW (503 DIN hp, 496 SAE hp) and from 370 to 385 Nm (283 lb-ft). The peak power was measured at 10.000 rpm. The redline of the 3.4-litre V8 was set at 11.000 rpm - wow!
The first race for the new engine was the ALMS Mid-Ohio race on July 19, 2008. Penske team having the new engine, won the LMP2 (3rd overall after LMP1 Audis). The RS Spyder Evo DFI was driven by Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
At the two last rounds of the 2008 ALMS, Penske fielded three RS Spyders (one of them was chassis 9R6702 that Penske used in 2007). At the Petit Le Mans race on Road Atlanta, RS Spyder won the ALMS Green Challenge award. The 2008 ALMS LMP2 championship was won by Penske, followed by Highcroft Racing (Acura) and Dyson Racing, followed by three more Acura teams. Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas shared 1st and 2nd in drivers' championship.
In Europe, RS Spyder won its class in every 2008 Le Mans Series race giving it the 1-2-3 in the LMS LMP2 championship. Van Merksteijn Motorsport was the championship winner, followed by Team Essex and Horag Racing. It was a full RS Spyder dominance among the more than 10 teams competing in the LMS LMP2 championship. In drivers category Jos Verstappen was the winner. The RS Spyder also won the Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge.
For 2009, in Europe the new rules dictated that the width of the rear spoiler had to be decreased and a new air restrictor had to be used, which decreased the power even further.
Penske left the ALMS for 2009 and Dyson switched from Porsches to Mazda-powered Lola LMP2 cars. Because of the Great Recession, only 2 LMP2 teams competed the full 2009 ALMS season. In Europe, the Porsches didn't participate in the LMS either, only the Team Essex showed up at the Spa 1000 km (and won LMP2) in preparation for the Le Mans.
At the 2009 Le Mans 24 hour race, Team Essex won the LMP2 category (10th overall after LMP1 cars). The Essex RS Spyder, that also won the efficiency challenge, was driven by Emmanuel Collard, Casper Elgaard and Kristian Poulsen.
Japanese Team Goh had bought the 9R6708 from Merksteijn to compete at the 2009 Le Mans. Unfortunately their race ended on the 23rd hour because of an accident.
From August 2009, CytoSport Muscle Milk (Muscle Milk was the product of CytoSport) joined ALMS with 9R6704 bought from Dyson. Their participation in the 2009 season was the prelude for the next season. From 2010 the ALMS rules were changed and the LMP1 and LMP2 were melded into one LMP class. CytoSport Muscle Milk team competed the full season. In August they switched from 9R6704 to a new chassis 9R6712 to race the two last races. CytoSport scored second in the season after Highcroft Racing (Acura/Honda LMP2) and in front of Drayson Racing (Lola-Judd LMP1). In driver's standings, CytoSport driver Klaus Graf was on podium after two Highcroft drivers.
The 2011 regulations rendered the RS Spyder obsolete due to the costs exceeding the class budget limit.
RS Spyder chassis numbers
|Year||Chassis number||Customer||Number of races, according to RacingSportsCars.com|
|2005||LMP2001||factory test car|
|2007||9R6701||factory test car|
|2007||9R6704||Dyson Racing||28 (2007-2008 Dyson, 2009-2010 CytoSport)|
|2007||9R6705||Dyson Racing||20 (2007-2008)|
|2007||9R6706||maybe a spare chassis|
|2007||9R6707||Horag Racing||6 (2008)|
|2007||9R6708||Van Merksteijn Motorsport||7 (2008 Van Merksteijn, 2009 Navi Team Goh)|
|2007||9R6709||Danish Team Essex||8 (2008-2009)|
|2007||9R6711||maybe a spare chassis|
|2007||9R6712||Team CytoSport (Muscle Milk)||2 (2010)|
RS Spyder Evo DFI at the Porsche Museum
The 3.4V8 of the RS Spyder was used in the 2010 Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid concept car (the production car got a 4.6V8). Porsche's next Le Mans prototype after the LMP2 RS Spyder (9R6) was the LMP1 919 hybrid (9R9).
Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com
- Vector drawing 594 mm x 420 mm (A2), B/W
- Format: PDF
- Author: Margus Holland