The RS Spyder (type 9R6) is a LMP2 class race car built by Porsche. It marks the return of Porsche to the upper echelons of sports car racing since the abandoned Porsche LMP1 project of the late 1990's. The RS Spyder, named after legendary versions of the 1950s Porsche 550, marks Porsche's return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans-type of sports car racing since the its last entry and overall win there was with the Porsche 911 GT1 in 1998. Afterwards, Porsche was absent, and the Audi R8 dominated.
Although the lighter P2 class cars do not have as much power as the larger P1 cars, the power to weight ratio between the two classes is very close. Combined with handling characterstics equal to the P1 cars, the RS spyders are formidable opponents and have scored overall race victories.
The RS Spyder made its debut in the final event of the 2005 American Le Mans Series, the Monterey Sports Car Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, entered by Penske Racing and driven by a team of Porsche Junioren factory drivers. At the Laguna Seca race the sole RS Sypder of Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen finished first in class and fifth overall.
In the 2006 12 Hours of Sebring, the RS Spyder driven by Lucas Luhr was fastest in its class, as well as close to the fastest overall prototype, the Audi R10 Diesel. With lap times under 1:50 min, Luhr set the P2 class pole (2 secs slower) and fastest lap (less than 1 second down), but finished only 2nd in class and 8th overall after some trouble. The second car did not finish. The second race of the season at Houston was difficult, with both cars having trouble with bumpy street circuit and slipping out of contention. However, the cars went very well in qualifying.
At the third ALMS race of 2006 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, everything came together well. Both cars filled the top two spots in qualifying, but the faster car of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas was relegated to the back of the field due to being underweight following the qualifying. However, that car ended up winning the race overall, with the sister car of Luhr and Maassen very close behind in second place.
This Porsche did not yet enter the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans, though.
For 2007, Porsche announced their intention to sell the RS Spyder to customers outside of Penske for both the Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series. Along with this announcement, Porsche also unveiled the 2007-spec RS Spyder (called the RS Spyder Evo) at the Paris Motor Show on September 28, 2006, which included an increase in horsepower.
On December 18, 2006, American Le Mans Series veterans Dyson Racing annonuced they had purchased two RS Spyders. This was further validated by Porsche. “When we announced our engagement in the American Le Mans Series back in April 2005 at Atlanta it was our goal to have the RS Spyder running for customer teams in 2007. This is now realised with Dyson Racing,” said Porsche’s head of motorsport, Hartmut Kristen. ”Penske Motorsports remains our development partner with whom we conduct all major tests. We will make the results of this development work available to our customer teams. The RS Spyders for Penske Motorsports and for Dyson Racing will be identical vehicles to the 2007 model year. The engines will also be absolutely identical.“ Dyson had previously run Porsche 962's in IMSA GTP championship back in the 1980's.
Rule changes increased the RS Spyder's weight to 825 kg and Porsche introduce a new direct injection engine developing 503 horsepower (375 kW). A Penske car driven by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Emmanuel Collard, secured the overall victory at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring, winning it on the 20th anniversary of Porsche's last overall win at the race. Penske had another outright victory at the Utah Grand Prix and also recorded an additional three class wins. At Petit Le Mans a 3rd RS Spyder was entered by Penske in an attempt to lock out the manufacturers' championship against Acura. Penske won both the LMP2 Team and drivers' championship for Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. Porsche won the manufacturers' championship by 1 point ahead of Acura.
Danish Team Essex together with Van Merksteijn Motorsport of The Netherlands and Horag Racing of Switzerland participate in the Le Mans Series(LMS) all with 2008-spec RS Spyder. Team Essex and Van Merksteijn also entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans, marking the debut for the RS Spyder at the event. A RS Spyder from Van Merksteijn Motorsport driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter van Merksteijn and Jos Verstappen, came first in class and 10th overall with the Essex team coming second in class (12th overall). A RS Spyder won its class in every LMS race giving it a 1-2-3 in the LMP2 standing and securing the drivers championship for Jos Verstappen and the Team championship for Van Merksteijn Motorsport.
New restrictor rules brought the RS Spyder's power down to approximately 440 horsepower (330 kW), and the wingspan was limited by the rules, effectively decreasing downforce.
Penske did not compete in the ALMS in 2009 but Team CytoSport, who had previously competed in LMP1 in 2007, purchased an ex-Dyson Racing RS Spyder and took part in four races with a best result of second in class at Road America.
In LMS, Team Essex only competed in the 1000 km race at Spa taking the class victory and also securing the class victory at Le Mans, finishing 10th overall with Casper Elgaard, Kristian Poulsen and Emmanuel Collard at the wheel.Team Goh also took part in the race with an ex-Van Merksteijn Motorsportcar.
CytoSport announced in February 2010 that it would contest the full ALMS in a RS Spyder. It was also announced that Sascha Maassen would join the regular drivers Klaus Graf and Greg Pickett at the longer races at Sebring, Laguna Seca and Road Atlanta. Cytosport used a full-width rear wing for the entire season, unlike arch-rivals Highcroft HPD. The CytoSport RS Spyder won the LMP2 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and took their first outright victory at Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock. CytoSport continued their winning success by taking outright victory at a shortened race at Mosport. They also finished the season second behind Patrón Highcroft Racing in the championship and Klaus Graf finished second in the drivers' standings.
No RS Spyders were entered in the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 2011 LMP2 regulations rendered the RS Spyder obsolete due to the costs exceeding the LMP2 budget limit.
The RS Spyder is powered by a 3.4-liter V8 producing 480bhp in 2006-spec, and 503bhp in 2007-spec (limited by a 44mm air restrictor) mated with a 6-speed sequential transmission and has a dry weight of 1709 lb (775 kg).
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- Official Porsche website
- RS Spyder photos
- Information on RS Spyder Evo/2007 version
- Penske Racing
- Autocar: Harris testing the RS Spyder video
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