2006-2008 Porsche RS Spyder

Images copyright Martin Spetz, Will Vasser,  Pat Michl, and Michael J. Fuller
Text copyright Michael J. Fuller
After a very successful debut season, it was a surprise to some when Porsche revealed an extensive update of the RS Spyder LMP2 at the Paris Auto Show at the end of 2006.  To aerodynamicists the 2006 RS Spyder’s visual ungainliness belied its on-track performance, and the updates to the 2007 car are not subtle.  The aggressive, lean and purposeful new design reflect substantial rethinking over the 2006 season and indicate extensive preparation, perhaps directly in response to Acura’s major American Le Mans Series program, or even Audi's less than subtle prod at the '06 year end ALMS banquet...("Why is Audi unchallenged?  Ask Porsche – where are you with your glorious motor sports history?  Why are you not in the top category? Honda-Acura, why not in the premier formula?  Why LMP2?  Come and challenge us. If you beat us, we will honor you.")

Michael Pfadenhauer, head of Porsche’s Aerodynamics Department, joined the company in 2005, well after the Spyder program was underway.  Pfadenhauer's contribution to the debut Spyder was limited to a front splitter revision first seen before the 2006 season began.  Pfadenhauer came to Porsche from Audi Sport, where he was responsible for the Audi R8’s aerodynamics (starting with the R8R and R8C) and he was also involved with the early development of the R10.  The updated 2007 RS Spyder is the first Porsche race car completely under Pfadenhauer’s responsibility.

By today’s standards, Porsche’s in-house scale wind tunnel facilities is antiquated and it is our understanding that the development of the '07 RS Spyder was done using the Fondmetal/Aerolab wind tunnel.  Confirmation comes from Fondmental in the form of a list of their clients as posted on their website:  "Porsche (American Le Mans Series)".  Oddly,  when Porsche's North American PR representatives were asked directly if the Fondmetal wind tunnel was used, their answer was "no".

The Porsche RS Spyder program has revealed the rather large changes that Porsche has undergone as a company since the last time they raced at this level.  In the intervening 10 years or so since Porsche had a major prototype presence, the company has gone from being a small car company to a large car company.  From a motor sports perspective this means they may be somewhat slower to react.  Some suggest they may have lost altogether some of the abilities that they once had and now prefer to farm out development once done in-house.  The additions of key technical and managerial personnel like Pfadenhauer also seems to indicate the motor sports arm of the company went through a rather significant brain drain over the course of the past 10 years. Pfadenhauer’s recruitment certainly adds “quite an asset to Porsche” to quote a rival.  Lest that sound as if Porsche was behind and are now catching up, remember that the RS Spyder designed for the 2006 season was hugely successful.  That performance, along with the substantial redesign for the 2007 campaign, demonstrates once again that Porsche remains a goal oriented company, no matter any other changes.

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2007 Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 Specifications
Designer: Aerodynamics: Michael Pfadenhauer 
Mechanical: Dieter Steinhauser 
Engine: Thomas Laudenbach 
Layout: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Monocoque: Carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque
Engine: Porsche 9R6 3.4 liter, 90░ V8, normally aspirated, 4 valves per cylinder, DOHC, 1 x 44.0 mm engine-air intake restrictor (per ACO regulations)
Engine management: Bosch MS 4.2
Horsepower: 503 hp @ 10300 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 7500 rpm
Gearbox: Porsche GR6 6-speed + reverse electro-pneumatically actuated sequential gearbox
Clutch: ZF Sachs three-plate carbon-fiber racing clutch
Differential: Mechanical limited-slip differential
Steering: Hydraulic power steering with mechanical pump
Suspension: Independent front and rear double wishbone suspension, pushrod system with torsion bars and adjustable dampers
Brakes: Two-circuit hydraulic braking system, six piston aluminum monobloc brake calipers, front and rear ventilated carbon brake discs, F: 380 mm diameter R: 355 mm diameter
Wheels: Single-piece, light alloy 
F: 12.5 x 18 inch 
R: 13.0 x 18 inch
Tires: Michelin radial
F: 29/65-18 
R: 31/71-18
Length: 4650 mm
Width: 2000 mm
Height: 1030 mm
Wheelbase: 2900 mm
Front Overhang: 1000 mm
Rear Overhang: 750 mm
Weight: 775 kgs
Tank capacity: 90 liters
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ęCopyright 2008, Michael J. Fuller