You often hear the phrase, “we started with a clean sheet of paper”…..but often we don’t get the opportunity to do that with project cars. Most have time, history, and many miles on them before they get subjected to the project knife. But not so with this car…..we started with a very well defined project plan in place, and with a brand new Porsche 997.2 GT3 2012 in Aqua Blue color.
We had to do a write up on this car just due to the car…it is stunning, and no matter where this car is, it draws crowds. If you see this car in person, ask the owner about the stories of what happened when he drove this car home from the dealer…..the stories are amazing and funny.
But, here is what we started with….the basic Porsche 997.2 2012 GT3, w the 3.8 direct injected motor and carbon ceramic brakes, sport seats, and silver interior details (like the seatbelts, which we had not seen in SILVER before….stunning).
The project was very direct….turn this wonderful street car into a full track car. While this car will still see some daily driving use, the main focus for this customer is to have a finely tuned weapon for track duty…and one that would be very safe. (There is some interesting background to the impetus for this project as well, as the owner had another brand new Porsche just before this, but that one landed on its head at Laguna Seca, and ended its life (the car that is) very early). So, this project had safety at the top of the list as well as the performance enhancements we had scoped out.
When it comes to safety, its relatively easy – roll bar, harness bar, structural support, new 6 point harnesses, and HANs device for the driver . One of the benefits we had with this project car was that we had the amazing Porsche CF sport seats already….the ones w the cutouts for the full harness support, and alcantara inserts to keep your body fully planted.
Besides being amazing seats, the other nice thing is that they fit in the car so well (many aftermarket sport seats do NOT fit in a Porsche well, as the shoulder ears will interfere w the doors or not allow full articulation of movement and adjustment). These are light weight, strong, beautiful carbon fiber units. Just don’t ask about the price (but we can get these for any Porsche if you are interested and beat SunCoasts price point).
Once we got past the fundamentals for a track car (safety….and keeping you planted and comfortable in the seats)…we would follow our normal upgrade path for a Porsche. There are two areas that we needed to tackle next…..the brakes (remember, this car has the carbon ceramic brakes…more on that in a second), and the suspension bushings and setup. We tackle the brakes not because they aren’t good enough for track use or abuse, but mainly due to cost. As drivers progress in their driving prowess as well, we prefer traditional steel brakes due to these factors – cost for replacement, durability, and pad selection. This last item is one that many don’t think about, but you don’t have a lot of choices on pad compounds and bite when you are using ceramic brakes. We need or want a wide variety of pad choices…we want to be able to match the grip or bite and modulation to the current track needs, and the current driver skill.
Example, we find the Performance Friction line of pads very grippy….great bite, but they act like an “ON / OFF” switch, there is very little modulation. So, if your customer is developing his trail braking skills, then the PFCs are not a great choice. Additionally, we find the PFC to not be highly rotor friendly vs our choice of the Endless pads. We love the Endless pads….we have converted all of our track customers to the Endless brand, and the rotor life is great, the length of use is great, the pedal modulation is great, and as a result, the confidence of the driver under all braking conditions is outstanding….the driver will get more out of his car. And the great news about pads and rotors is that they are always evolving. A new line from PFC looks to have addressed some of our prior concerns.
In every upgrade decision, we are want to maximize the value…not just the purchase price (but that is obviously part of the equation), but the replacement costs, service costs, and quality. With all those factors in mind, we often turn to StopTech as our choice for brakes. We now have a huge amount of time testing, using, abusing, trying them on different weight cars, trying different pads and compounds, heat abuse and over cooling, but through it all, they just keep on working at the optimum level. We can’t ask more…and they offer a great price as well. Off came the the carbon ceramics, and on went a full dishing of big brake upgrade with StopTech and Endless pads (ME20 compound to start). Now we have the confidence under braking, next…we need to gain the confidence in the handling area. These are STR (Trophy Race) 6 piston fronts, 4 piston rears.
There is an interesting cross over in this area between the brakes and handling confidence. If you have driven a Porsche (911, Cayman, or Boxster), and gotten into the brakes hard at high speeds, then you know what happens….and it robs you of confidence. You’re not sure what the car is going to do. It’s like going into the braking zone and wondering if the car is going to stay in a straight line. It squirms and wiggles its rear, and you have no confidence, and it takes your focus completely off where it needs to be. This mainly happens just under severe braking, but you can also feel some of this weirdness in the corners. So, we have to attack that area first to make the car deliver the confidence the driver needs, so the animal can be wrestled when on the track. Here is a pic of the OEM or stock suspension setup for the rear, and you can see all the rubber bushings in all the connecting points.
We’ve found that the main reason for this weird behavior is the suspension bushings….under the severe load, they just deflect too much, and allow “toe” defection, and the car starts going all sorts of direction. Therefore, out come all the main suspension bushings that affect the toe deflection. The thrust arm bushings, the toe links, the rear upper dog bones. That’s step 1.
You can see the new thrust arm bushings and the adjustable lower control arms in the pic below.
Once we have the car settled down, we can then move onto the refining of the handling itself. Again, we take this in progressive steps….not making some of the big or radical steps like changing the shocks and springs. Therefore, we want to be able to dial in the suspension, and we will need adjustability to accomplish that. To gain that, we needed the adjustable control arms and dog bones….now we can get the alignment specs we know Porsches love, and the tires require.
- front lower adjustable control arms (w stock inner bushings)
- rear lower adjustable control arms (w stock inner bushings)
- rear upper dog bones
- thrust arm bushings (in the lower control arms)(front and rear)
- front outer toe links (solid bushings)
- rear toe links (solid bushings)
With the bushings taken care of, we then turned our attention to the sway bar set. That’s another thing that the Porsche’s don’t like….the amount of body roll under hard cornering. So, out w the stock, in w the new stiffer bars. They also come w the stiffer sway bar bushings. You can also see if you look closely some of the attention to detail that you need to deal with when you install other parts…..when you install the adjustable front lower control arms, you can no longer use the headlight level sensor connecting point…..there is none on the new lower control arm. So, you have to use a special shim for the camber that also has the flange to attach the headlight level sensor. Funny thing about that little part…..we all know it exists, but it’s not shown in the PET (Porsche Electronic parts catalog)….so, knowing how to get these special Porsche parts is also part of the equation.
Speaking of details….besides addressing the major performance areas….which is what everyone thinks you attack, you also need to know the little areas that need to be addressed to make the car durable for track duty. One of these areas is the screening of the ducts….and its not just the front ducts in the front bumper cover, but also the ones on the inside of the fender liners (we lost a radiator in one of our cars from a rock being thrown thru the front fender liner duct hole and it went straight thru the outer radiator). We make the screens so that they are heavy duty, but also can easily be replaced, as they will take a beating, and they will get damaged thru their normal use. These aren’t Rennline versions or someone else, these we make to our template and w some attachment flanges to make the install and replacement easier.
This has brought us to the end of the current phase of this build project…..there are more pieces we are doing soon…so, stay tuned.
But, the results are in the proof points….the car has been in numerous events in 2012 (Porsche Owners Club, PCA events), and the owner has set multiple “personal bests” by a signficant margin, and he reports that he “loves” his Porsche, and is having a ball (he even ran a full day in the rain in the Spring of 2012 at Thunderhill, and reported the car to be very stable, and never put a foot wrong…..that’s confidence in your car).
Like all projects…a good project is never done, you just move onto the next phase of enhancement. With the base platform working well for the customer, we wanted to add the normal accompaniment of data acquisition elements. So, we wire the sensors, data, and video together and to make them easily accessible for the constant changes. This is not a full race vehicle, so we’re not implementing a full Motec system for this car, just the normal track day data acquisition elements.
For the serious track addict, there is another data / communication element that is a great addition….radio communication, and radio intercom. Having radio communication, for those who have the ability to leverage it, can save you more than you can shake a stick at. But, there is another advantage, once you have it, you can add a few elements, and you then have a full fledged intercom system that you can use between the driver and the passenger or instructor. Refining your skill is a constant journey, and having high quality helmet intercom system allows tremendous interaction at all times.
At this point, the project took an interesting turn. Now, many will think all sorts of things about this next phase…some will agree, some will say that we should have stayed the course, and some will say that we should have gone another way. All this surrounds the center lock hubs that this car has. For a variety of reasons (many of which have been fully explored and expounded on in the forums), we did not want to stay the course with the center lock hubs and wheels. We had one customer who had one shear at the track….and along w the other known failures that had happened and continue to happen, we wanted to move to stable ground….as noted when we started this project, safety is paramount. So, off w the center locks, and on with the center locks. What you may say…this sounds like an oxy-moron, but we loved the use and convenience of the center locks, just didn’t like the versions we had. We have had LOTS of experience on the Cup Car center locks, both from the 997.1 and 997.2 versions, and there were other advantages to go this route as well, so we selected the Cup Car center locks and hubs as the right solution for this project.
And, right in the middle of this….out of no where, Porsche comes along and introduces a new version of the center lock hub…..hmmm….ironic about the timing. Porsche has used center lock racing solutions for years…..and now we have a new rear center lock hub. Hmmmm. Well, the timing worked well for us, and we now had the chance to use the substantially upgraded center lock hubs. These fit in the existing GT3 just fine…you just press out the wheel bearings and hub centers, and replace them w different size wheel bearings and the new Cup Center lock hub flanges.
This car is being hauled all over the country to play on the various playgrounds, so, we needed to add some driver comfort aids to ensure that no matter what the weather, the driver could muster all the laps he wanted to drive. So, add in one coolsuit system. Unlike our race cars, we still have a passenger seat, so, we couldn’t put the coolsuit system there, so we located the system in the front trunk, and added extra insulation to the extended length hose to ensure the fluid stays cool. We added the variable speed flow control, and even added a “Y” connection so that the system could be shared between the driver and instructor. We may not have AC, but we have cooling. And….ask any of our customers who have this system, and they will tell you this is the greatest enhancement to the car.
Next up……grip. A close eye will also see that w the addition of the center locks, we added Cup Car front fenders and flares. Add to that front dive planes….and we’re getting closer to the level of grip that we want.
There is still more….stay tuned. But, in its current form….not completed yet, the customer in this car just turned a new LAP RECORD for the PCA group at Thunderhill (1:58…and this w stock springs and shocks).
Upgrades and Enhancements to the car so far -
StopTech STR60 front brakes, 380x32mm rotors (trophy race)
StopTech STR40 rear brakes, 355x32mm rotors (trophy race)
Thrust arm bushings, front and rear – GMG
Dog bone rear upper control arms – GMG
Toe link kit, half, front w bump steer – GMG
Toe link kit, full, rear w bump steer – GMG
Front and rear sway bar set – GMG WC GT3
Porsche Motorsport 997.2 Cup Car intake
Wire mesh to front grill openings and fender well openings
OMP steering wheel
Steering wheel quick release – Sparco
FAST coolsuit system (front trunk area mount) w long insulated hose
Brake Pads – either Endless ME20 or Endless N05U
Brake Fluid – Endless RF650
Wheel hubs – Porsche 997.2 Cup Car Center Locks
Wheels – BBS 18″ 3-piece 997.2 Cup Car Wheels (3 sets)
Tires – Hoosier R6 (F 265/35/18, R 315/30/18)
Roll bar, harness bar, shock tower brace – GMG WC version
Porsche Motorsport Cup Car 997.2 rear decklid, Cup Car uprights, Cup wing
Porsche Motorsport Cup Car 997.2 front fenders
Porsche Motorsport Cup Car 997.2 front splitter
Front ABS dive planes
BRracing……producing the right product with real results…..what can we build for you?