More go and more stick for Stuttgart’s darling

In its never-ending search for quicker and quicker lap times, Porsche has updated the highly popular 911 GT3 Cup racing car with a new, more powerful engine, enhanced reliability, and extra aerodynamic tricks along the body panels.

The update coincides with the release of the second-generation 991, a.k.a. the 991.2. Porsche unveiled the 991.2 last year, but the GT3 Cup stands apart from its road-going brethren as the track-only, race-ready variant aimed at hitting the starting grid right out of the box.

Per usual, you’ll find a flat six-cylinder engine mounted in the rear. This time around, the powerplant comes packing with direct fuel injection, an even four liters of displacement, and 100 percent naturally aspirated induction (cue cheering fan boys).

The 4.0-liter powerplant replaces the outgoing model’s 3.8-liter flat-six, with peak output rated at 485 horsepower – an increase of 25 ponies. Not bad for a car that weighs less than 2,700 pounds.

In addition to being more powerful, the 4.0-liter six-cylinder is also more reliable, offering a valve drive with rigidly mounted rocker arms and a central oil feed – a first for the model. There’s also an integrated oil centrifuge for enhanced oil defoaming, and a more rigid crankshaft.

Making the most of the newfound power is upgraded aero, which takes a few cues from the most recent 911 facelift. There’s a new front bumper apron, and a new rear end. Porsche declined to specify exactly how it managed to “improve” the aero, but did mention “enhanced traction and performance,” so I’m guessing there’s just more downforce. Meanwhile, you’ll find the same rear wing as the outgoing model, measuring in at 184 cm in width. That’s over six feet, by the way.

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Why It Matters

The new 911 GT3 Cup is a good example of the basics involved with making a better race car – more usable power, and more grip.

Let’s start with the engine. A bigger, naturally aspirated powerplant is the way to go for track performance, just so long as you’re not throwing off the balance with too much added weight. That said, the new 0.2 liters should add a nice dollop of low-end torque, which will obviously make it easier to drive at ten-tenths.

That helps in the race to the finish line, but the added reliability will also help in the race to the starting line. This car is often considered an entry point for professional GT racing, and as they say, “speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?”

Look for the 2017 911 GT3 Cup car next year in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.

According to Car & Driver, the new engine requires a tune-up every 80 to 100 hours of track time, as compared to the old unit’s 40-hour refresh time, and that should be a huge help for those drivers with more talent than cash.

Then of course there’s the extra downforce, which would normally put a damper on top speed and high-end acceleration. However, with the newfound power, my guess is that won’t be an issue.

All told it’s a nice update, especially when you consider how this thing is one of the most popular racing cars in the world. In fact, Porsche says it’s sold more than 3,000 individual units of the GT3 Cup over the past few decades, and it’s played a major role in a variety of racing series.

Look for the 2017 911 GT3 Cup car next year in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland.

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