A TRACK-READY VERSION OF THE LEGENDARY COUPE
By Al Khoury
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When it comes to the Porsche 911, the GT3 designation indicates track-ready versions of the legendary coupe. The name comes from the FIA’s Group GT3 category of grand tourer race cars. These special cars have competed in some of the most notable races in the world and Porsche has been offering production versions since 1999. In 2014 Porsche released the third-generation GT3, making it part of the 991.1 series. And it’s a beast.
“When it first became available, having been a Porsche 911 fanatic and track junkie, I made my purchase with no hesitation,” Oloi founder and GT3 owner Thomas Lee said.
This GT3 encompassed all the software updates and technology Porsche had worked up to at the time. Its 3.8-liter flat-six engine produces 475 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 324 pound-feet of torque at 6,250 rpm. Power is sent to the rear wheels via Porsche’s Doppelkupplung (PDK) double-clutch seven-speed gearbox. Titanium connecting rods and forged aluminum pistons contribute to a redline of 9,000 rpm.
Depending on who’s doing the testing, the 2014 911 GT3 can hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 3.1 seconds. It can run the quarter in 11.3 seconds and continue on to a top speed of 195 mph. The base MSRP for the GT3 when it was new was $131,350.
The 991 generation was introduced in 2011 for the 2012 model year. It has a slightly longer width, wheelbase, and length than the 997 it replaces. It is just the third entirely new 911 platform since the original launched in 1963, with the 996 being the second.
This is the first 911 to use electric power steering, which has caused some controversy for diehard Porsche enthusiasts.
The 991 GT3’s engine is based on the one found in the 991 Carrera S, but has its own unique components such as the crankshaft and valvetrain. Weight was saved with a lighter oil pan separator, carbon composite intake, and lighter headers. An aluminum roof, rear deck lid, and fenders help shed more pounds.
This is the first GT3 to come with solely an automatic transmission. And when it comes to the transmission, the GT3 puts its own spin there as well. The other PDK-equipped 911 models hit their top speed in sixth gear, while the seventh is reserved for cruising more efficiently. The gear ratios have been reduced in the GT3, meaning you’ll need to be in seventh gear to max out the speed.
The GT3 uses active rear-wheel steering. The rear wheels can turn with the front wheels or in the opposite direction, depending on the car’s speed. This helps maintain stability on the track and improves maneuverability at low speeds.
The 991.1 series ran from 2011 to 2016 before being updated with the 991.2 This generation 911 is being succeeded by the new 992.
Thomas admits that his car was virtually undrivable on the track before he made his own adjustments to it. When he first took it out to the tarmac in its OE form, the car insisted on drifting out on every corner. It was “very tail happy.” Trusting his own experience over the multitude of YouTube reviews, which are at best used for reference, Thomas called upon his team at SAVVY.
SAVVY designs and tests race-inspired parts for high-performance vehicles, with an emphasis on functionality, quality, and looks. Thomas wanted to test a new SAVVY wing kit and the GT3 provided the perfect platform, thus its purchase. He also wanted to set up his GT3 to compete in an annual race event called the Super Lap Battle (SLB) at Buttonwillow Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California. He aimed for the most minimal of upgrades, keeping the stock settings such as the OE suspension, but upgrading the springs to achieve more mechanical grip.
The SAVVY team built a wing kit prototype for the 2017 SLB event, which also served as a testbed for the new aero component. The GT3’s power remained untouched. On the track, the wing alone helped shave seconds off of lap times. The team took home second place in the Limited RWD Class with a time of 1:51.426.
In 2018 the team decided to go all out. The GT3’s interior was stripped, with the passenger seat removed and the driver’s seat replaced with an OMP Racing seat. They added a Schroth Racing harness and MoTeC C125 data logger. The stock door panels were replaced with those the GT4 Clubsport. A Clubsport steering wheel was swapped in and a BBi 991 GT3 StreetCup roll bar was installed.
Suspension work included MCS double adjustable shocks, upgraded spring rates, and fully adjustable control arms. A front carbon air dam and rear 72-inch carbon wing were bolted on. Up front, 18x10 BBS wheels were shod in Nitto NT01 285 tires. Out back were 18x12 BBS wheels with Nitto NT01 325 tires.
A full straight exhaust (manifold headers, test pipe, single exit no cats) was installed and the car was tuned to run on 100 octane fuel.
The goal was to “maximize the overall power and handling performance without sacrificing its liability.” There were more competitors on the field at the 2018 SLB and the SAVVY team had another podium finish. They took third place in the Limited RWD Class with a time of 1:48.867. This was an improvement of nearly two-and-a-half seconds over the previous year’s lap.