Two of the wildest track-only supercars going head-to-head at Spa-Francorchamps

The Porsche 911 GT2 RS is, unarguably, the wildest 911-based car that Stuttgart can sell you and, similarly, the R8 is Audi’s hottest street-legal proposition yet, if you are willing to step onto a race track, both manufacturers will gladly sell you even hotter versions of either vehicle.

Sam Dejonghe was lucky enough to sample both the Audi R8 LMS GT2 and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport on one of the planet’s best road courses, Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, and he tells the tale of two different cars that try to breathe life into a brand-new category.

GT Racing is at a crossroads right now

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport Exterior
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Are there too many GT classes co-existing at the moment? Over here in the States, professional series such as the GT World Challenge America or the IMSA-sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge and the Weathertech Sportscar Championship offer a platform for anything ranging from GT4 cars and all the way up to the million-dollar-a-pop GTE machines that only factory-backed outfits dare to run. Whether or not that’s overkill is up to the market to decide and the pandemic surely doesn’t help the newest class to crop up in pro racing. The name rings a bell for older GT racing fans but the current iteration of GT2 has had a hard time getting off the ground.

Between 2005 and 2010, there were two main Grand Touring-based classes slotting below the two main prototype classes as per the FIA's structure.
Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
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The two classes were appropriately named ’GT1’ and ’GT2’ and were soon followed by the even cheaper ’GT3’ and ’GT4’ classes although the first two were at the forefront, they played a part in leading professional series such as the American Le Mans Series (which has since merged with Grand-Am to form today’s IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship), the European Le Mans Series, and, of course, the FIA GT Championship.

At the end of 2010, the GT1 class was sidelined by the ACO (organizer of the Le Mans race) and thus happened a split in the GT2 class. With no slower (in terms of the performance of the cars) class to sit below GT2, the decision was made to have two categories running GT2 cars, namely GTE-Pro and GTE-Am. The former would feature professional drivers piloting the latest machinery while GTE-Am would feature mixed driver pairing with Pros and Ams racing together in year-old cars to make sure that some performance difference exists. That has largely been the game plan ever since with GT3 and GT4 evolving down their own paths and racing in their own championships.

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport Exterior
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With the rapid growth of both those ’lesser’ classes, the SRO, creator of both of them, felt compelled to offer a third class to the world, one that would weirdly be located between GT3 and GT4 performance-wise despite being given the ’GT2’ moniker. This new class, Stephane Ratel thought, would be ideal for those amateurs that are looking for the speed of a GT3 without the dangers that go with racing in the busy GT3 series around the world. Thus, a GT2 car would blow past most GT3s down a straightway thanks to its power advantage but would then lose out in the twisty bits due to the less aggressive aero package.

Awesome concept, claimed the SRO's founder and CEO. Not really, replied the market.
Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
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The issue is complicated and it probably has something to do with the fact that, as GTEs, GT3s, and GT4s have all established themselves in a variety of championships, the GT2 cars were indeed welcomed by amateurs (call them ’Gentleman Drivers’ if you wish) but not as a means to go racing, instead many ending up clogging track day events. That’s not for a lack of trying on the SRO’s behalf as these cars are eligible to compete in the GT Sports Club America, the GT Sports Club Asia, and the GT2 Sports Club Europe, and we’d venture a guess that maybe Germany’s NLS (formerly the VLN), Britain’s Britcar, and the 24H Series could also find a place for these cars if there were interested parties.

Comparing the current offerings

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport Exterior
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Sadly, though, this hasn’t quite transpired. There are a few GT2 RS Clubsports in the US but the car count is so tiny that they’ve had to compete alongside the GT3s in GT World Challenge America events since the series has returned to the circuits in recent months. The grids continue to be tepid with just six (6!) entries slated to take part in the action at Road America, so the SRO decided those track days deserve some attention.

This is why the SRO-owned Curbstone Events, organizer of many track days on some of Europe’s best-well-known tracks, launched the Clubsport Challenge.

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport Exterior
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This isn't a championship as such, nor is there an award for the guy who goes the fastest at one of these track day events as the emphasis falls elsewhere - while in-keeping with the idea of an actual challenge.

With Clubsport Challenge, you can take your road-legal supercar or super sports car (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a GT2 car), and you drive it round and round at a Curbstone track day with the aim being to nail the racing line as much as possible. The one who’s the closest to a ’perfect lap’, meaning that he nailed all the apexes and so on and so forth, receives the Pirelli Track Adrenaline Award at the end of the day.

With that award up for grabs, no wonder that multiple GT2 cars showed up at Spa, a track that’s ruthless with road cars. There, Belgian race car driver and current Sim Development Driver for the Mahindra Formula E team Sam Dejonghe, got the chance to drive both the Audi and the Porsche. The former was there as Audi Sport still tries to attract customers to its latest creation.

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
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The R8 LMS GT2 is powered by a 640 horsepower version of the 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-10 you’ll also find in the GT3 car, only there it makes no more than 550 horsepower. With over 405 pound-feet of torque sent to the rear wheels only, you’ll be happy to hear that the R8 LMS GT2 features ABS, traction control, and electronic stability control (ESC) that you can make more or less intrusive via a knob on the wheel. The whole thing weighs almost 3,000 pounds dry and, when going flat out in the seventh of seven gears, you’ll be traveling at over 170 mph. The gearbox is of the double-clutch S-Tronic variety with flappy paddles.

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
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Now, on to the Porsche. We’ve talked before about its looks and how it is much more similar in appearance to a standard GT2 RS but that’s more because the standard GT2 RS looks like a race car than because the Clubsport version is tame. However, there’s nothing tame about the way it goes. The classic flat-six displaces 3.8-liters here and by strapping a pair of turbos to it the power is said to be "up to 700 horsepower" with "up to 553 pound-feet of torque". The dry weight is 3,064 pounds and the price tag also surpasses that of the Audi.

While you'll have to displace $400,000 from your account to get the R8 LMS GT2, a GT2 RS Clubsport will set you back $479,232.

The KTM X-Bow GT2 is way cheaper than either of these but we won’t include that Austrian sled in the comparison since Dejonghe didn’t get to drive it alongside the other two.

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport Exterior
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So, how are they out on track? Well, for starters, they don’t offer as much aero grip (meaning there’s less downforce at play) as a GT3 car but, as a Gentleman Driver, you won’t feel it, your brain numbed by the atrocious acceleration and incomprehensible prowess under heavy braking. "For me, the GT2 is a very enjoyable playful car without being too dangerous. I think it’s a very fun mix. I think the concept is more back to how it was in older GT cars with not a lot of electronics and with power," said Dejonghe who last drove a GT3-spec car in the early 2010s as part of Aston Martin Belgium’s assault on the 24 Hours of Spa. The old generation V12 Vantage GT3 he raced back then is, probably, closer in terms of downforce to a GT2 car than the current Vantage GT3.

Dejonghe also noticed that the Porsche "was actually set up very safe with a lot of understeer and a rear that didn’t move, making it a bit more difficult to drive but I think for a gentleman better," while the Audi "was quite oversteery on the exits. For me, it was a lot more tricky than the Porsche. It was a bit more enjoyable because it felt more like a race car." Beyond the different setup, Dejonghe reckons that the Porsche is slower out of the corners but that, after the revs build up, "it felt even a step up to the Audi on top speed and mid-range speed."

Track Weapon Showdown: Audi R8 LMS GT2 Vs. Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport
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The Belgian also pointed out that the cars blur the line between race cars and a "really extreme track car". He argued that, with a GT3 car, "sometimes if you’re not on the limits, you don’t really get the feeling that it’s very difficult because there’s a lot of help in the car, and when you’re a gentleman and you don’t go that far into those limits it’s sometimes frustrating because you’re not able to get to those [lap] times."

The GT2 car, on the other hand, feels a bit rawer despite the myriad of driver assists. "It’s like an AutoGP car or like an LMP2 car, it’s aggressive and it feels difficult to drive," Sam said of the GT2 Audi (while the Porsche, he reckoned, could be similar if set up to be more oversteery). "I think the aim of these cars and the championships that they will be driving in is that the professional driver is just a coach and can do reference lap times and stuff like that. But the Pro isn’t there to really do a championship with someone."

Source: Dailysportscar

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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