In the privileged world of a motoring journalist, cars tend to blast through your life like comets; a brief flash, then gone. This is particularly the case for the exotic stuff, which burns twice as bright but for half as long, and few cars shone as brightly as the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.
When I returned the uber-911 at the end of PCOTY 2018, an event at which it was victorious, I paused to reflect on a remarkable week with a remarkable car.
After all, once the GT2 RS was no longer new and the press cars sold, I had more chance of seeing Halley’s Comet shoot across the night sky than of experiencing the twin-turbo thrust of the fastest ever 911 again.
This only makes the fact I’m currently wedged into the seat of a 911 GT2 RS more remarkable. Hello, old friend.
The reason for the re-acquaintance is the work of Manthey Racing. The one-time Porsche tuner turned factory-owned outfit has a long history of making fast 911s faster, but its name was thrust into the limelight on November 2, 2018, when a 911 GT2 RS MR (for Manthey Racing) lapped the Nurburgring in 6m40.33sec, lopping seven seconds off the mark set by the standard GT2 RS and poking the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ in the eye.
It’s the fastest street-legal car to ever lap the famous German racetrack, and the Manthey Racing kit is now available to purchase in Australia courtesy of Melbourne dealer Porsche Doncaster.
As you might expect, it’s not cheap, the MR pack costing ¤79,911 directly out of Germany, to which you need to add five per cent import tax, 10 per cent GST and shipping costs. Call it AUD$150,000 give or take, on top of the $650K-plus for a 991.2 GT2 RS in the first place. Serious money, but then this is a very serious car.
Experience a GT2 RS and areas of improvement are difficult to identify, so Manthey Racing focuses on optimising an already amazing car with a firm focus on improving lap time. There are no powertrain modifications, but when you’re dealing with 515kW/750Nm as standard that’s no great hardship. It also ensures there are no cooling or durability issues.
The one engine-related mod is the addition of an extra intercooler water spray tank, to ensure the water doesn’t run out before the fuel does on track (as it does in the standard car).
Manthey’s own brake pads are fitted, the standard lines are replaced with stainless braided items, and uprated fluid is added. Under the guards the standard dampers are replaced by remote-reservoir KW units, adjustable for compression and rebound, which use similar internals to the GT3 R racecar but upgraded for longer service life while retaining the front axle lift.
High-performance springs are stiffer than standard, but the addition of helper springs provide some initial compliance. Magnesium BBS wheels, like those included in the Weissach Pack but lighter, are wrapped in Michelin Cup 2 R tyres, with 10 per cent more contact patch than a ‘regular’ Cup 2 and a compound so soft they struggle to last a full track day.
Those wheels are aligned using Porsche Doncaster’s Manthey Racing wheel alignment machine, which is identical to that used to set up Porsche’s factory racecars, and the rears wear external discs that not only look awesome but perform a crucial aerodynamic role.
Aero is really where the MR sets itself apart from a standard GT2 RS. The new rear wing produces so much downforce it bends the standard engine cover, so the supports are now attached to the chassis, and the reinforced engine cover features a Gurney flap sitting over a larger diffuser.
Those wheel discs suck air from under the car, allowing the wing to use two degrees less rake to reduce drag and improve acceleration. These forces are balanced at the front by a splitter, new undertray, carbon floor, underbody aero curtains and a pair of canards on each side of the bumper.
The modifications are subtle yet comprehensive and I have four laps of Phillip Island to evaluate them during the lunch break of a Porsche Club Victoria track day.
It’s a daunting task made more so by the fact that this is the only GT2 RS MR to have been built outside Germany, it’s privately owned and that owner – the super-nice and extremely enthusiastic Mike – along with most of the club members, will be watching. Multiple nervous wees occur.
I’d forgotten how loud the GT2 RS is, its deep baritone muffled by my helmet but felt through my body as the six-point harness sucks me into the race seat. An official waves me forward onto a clear track. Mike has warned that the tyres will need at least half a lap to sort themselves out, so I use this time to gain my bearings.
The GT2 RS gear ratios are very short, which combined with the immense torque makes higher gears very usable, while the steering is lighter than you might imagine but very communicative by modern standards.
Half a lap done, time to crack on.
The wide expanses of Phillip Island dull the full-throttle punch of the GT2 RS, but only slightly. This car is stupid-fast, only now it has the chassis to fully utilise its monster grunt.
To be honest, the next three laps are a blur as I desperately try to probe the car’s limits while tackling Phillip Island’s turns at far higher speeds than I’ve ever experienced before while making sure, above all else, the car returns to the pits in the same condition as it left.
The grip is insane, particularly at high speed. I’m way too conservative in Turn 1, dive into Turn 2 as hard as I dare and am rewarded with the tiniest rear-end wiggle for my efforts. Applying full throttle on the exit in fourth is like being shot out of a cannon: 120…160...200.
I lift early for Turn 3; it might be flat, but I’m already doing 220km/h and I don’t want to face the consequences of my hunch being wrong.
The theme continues: incredible traction out of slow turns and the feeling of being suctioned to the road in fast ones. At PCOTY, Rick Kelly described the GT2 RS as ‘like a racecar on a road tyre’, and the Manthey Racing upgrades move the needle even more in that direction, yet the Cup 2 Rs give it the support the Cup 2s lack.
After three flying laps the chequered flag appears and probably at the right time; I’m sweating, breathing heavily and my head is spinning.
Mike is extremely pleased with his new toy: “It’s phenomenal. It gives you much more confidence and it’s not squirming anywhere near as much. And it looks awesome.”
It’s easy to see why the 911 GT2 RS MR is the pinnacle of road-based track cars. It’s a money-no-object proposition, but short of an Aston Valkyrie I can’t imagine anything lapping Phillip Island quicker while still wearing number plates.
What a beast. Sure beats waiting for Halley’s Comet.
2020 PORSCHE 911 GT2 RS MR SPECS
Engine: 3800cc flat-6, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 515kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 750Nm @ 2500-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 2.8sec (claimed)
Price: $800,000 (approx)
Like: Lifts greatness to a new level; insane circuit performance; grip, grip, grip
Dislike: Terrifying price; tyre and fuel consumption; I’ll never drive one again
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars