On its way to the racetrack!
Presented at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, two years after the launch of the new 996, the Porsche GT3 is the rightful successor to the powerful sports cars originating from the Weissach workshops.
From 2002, the GT3 will compete in the Porsche Carrera Cup single-brand championship, equipped with a 375 hp engine. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Porsche / D.R.
The GT3, unveiled in 1999, was the most effective expression of Porsche's racing experience at the time. It was based on the chassis of the new generation Porsche 911, renamed the 996, launched in 1997. This model represented a major turning point in the history of the Zuffenhausen-based marque, as for the first time the flat 6-cylinder engine was water-cooled, including the one used in racing. The GT3 was the only car in the 911/996 range to have a naturally-aspirated engine. It also has rear-wheel drive (like the GT2), while the Carrera and Turbo have all-wheel drive. With the GT3, Porsche continues to pursue its objective of offering its customers a sports car that is equally at home on the road and on the racetrack.
For the GT3 RS version, the Weissach engineers have reduced the weight of the chassis in order to ensure maximum efficiency during the race © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Porsche / D.R.
The first series of Porsche GT3s was based on the 996 Carrera, in which engineers at the Porsche Motorsport department in Weissach installed the M96.76 engine sourced from the Porsche 911 GT1. This prototype sports car, distantly related to the series production 911, was introduced in 1996 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998. The Flat 6 engine installed in the first-generation 1999 GT3 comes with a displacement of 3.6 litres and produces 360 hp at 7,200 rpm and maximum torque of 37.7 mkg at 5,500 rpm. Equipped with the Porsche VarioCam system, which was introduced with the 1991 Porsche 968 and allows optimum adjustment of the timing of the intake valves. This block, derived from the Mezger 6-cylinder engine of the original 911s, is combined with a G96.90 six-speed manual transmission derived from that of the 911. GT2 from 1993. The GT3's main lines are based on those of the 911, timeless design, and are almost identical to the front end of the first Boxster, criticised by some purists. The bodywork completed by streamlined side skirts, an enveloping front bumper and an adjustable biplane rear spoiler. The 996 GT3 was offered with the 'Clubsport M003' option for the benefit of customers who wanted to use the car in competition. It included fitting a bolted roll cage, a 6-point safety seat belt, a bucket seat and all accessories required for racing (on-board fire extinguisher, circuit breaker, non-flammable interior lining, etc.).
The fixed rear bonnet, made from carbon from 2003 onwards, is topped by a biplane aerodynamic crab claw spoiler with six adjustable positions© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Porsche / D.R.
From the 2003 model year, the 996 GT3 was available in a so-called Phase 2 version, also called 996.2 GT3. The car received some aesthetic changes, such as the adoption of the headlights from the new generation of Carrera, Turbo and GT2 models. The most notable modifications are mechanical, especially the engine in the rear overhang, now of the M96.79 type. It develops 21 hp more and delivers a maximum torque of 39.2 mkg at 5,000 rpm, and is fitted with a new G96.90 gearbox whose synchro’s have been strengthened. Ceramic brake discs are available as an option. In 2003, the GT3 was launched in an even more muscular and spartan RS version, with a lighter chassis and a 400 hp engine. The first generation of the 996 GT3 was completed in 2005 with 4,457 units produced, including 2,589 of the 996.2 version and 200 of the GT3 RS version. Three other generations of GT3s followed in the 911's footsteps: 997 from 2006 to 2012, 991 from 2013 to 2020 and 992 from 2021. All of these models complemented by RS versions and the biggest change came with the 2013 991, receiving a 3,797cc flat-six engine that developed 475 hp at 7,600 rpm and delivered maximum torque of 43.8 mkg at 6,250 rpm with a top speed of 315 km/h. The RS is equipped with a 3,996 cc engine developing 500 hp at 8,250 rpm with 46.9 mkg of torque at 5,750 rpm.
This fictional view shows the rear-mounted 3.6-litre flat 6-cylinder engine with the transmission in the front. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Porsche / D.R.
Porsche 996 GT3 Phase 2 (2003)
• Engine: type M96.79, 6-cylinder opposed flat engine rear overhang , longitudinal
• Displacement: 3598 cm3
• Bore x stroke: 100 mm x 76.4 mm
• Power: 381 hp at 7,400 rpm
• Fuel: Bosch DME sequential multipoint fuel injection
• Ignition: Bosch Motronic Me 7.2 management system
• Timing: double overhead camshaft per bank, 4 valves per cylinder
• Transmission: G96.90 type, rear wheel drive, 6-speed manual + M.A.
• Tyres: 235/40 ZR 18 (front) and 295/30 ZR 18 (rear)
• Brakes: ventilated discs (diameter 350 mm at the front and 330 mm at the rear)
• Length: 443.5 cm
• Width: 177 cm
• Height: 127.5 cm
• Wheelbase: 235.5 cm
• Front track: 148.5 cm
• Rear track: 154.8 cm
• Weight (unladen): 1,380 kg
• Maximum speed: 306 km/h
Debut participation in the 24 hours
The new Porsche GT3, designed for FIA homologation in competition, could not help but take part in the race in which the German manufacturer has achieved fame for almost three decades. The car was therefore entered for the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours in the Grand Touring Category (1st Group LM GT) on behalf of German team Manthey Racing, unofficially supported by the factory. The car bearing number 81, whose engine power was increased to 420 hp at a weight of 1,100 kg, was driven by Uwe Alzen, Patrick Huisman and Luca Ricitelli. In practice, it set the 44th fastest time (1st in LM GT) in 4' 11" 051. After a very consistent race, the No. 81 GT3 finished 13th overall (1st LM GT), covering 317 laps or 4,036.453 kilometres at an average speed of 179.436 km/h. That year, a second Porsche 996 GT3 was entered in LM GT by American private team Champion Racing Dave Maraj. With drivers Bernd Mayländer, Bob Wollek and Dirk Müller. Carrying start number 80, he set the 45th time in practice and finished the race in 19th place overall (2nd in LM GT).