Taking a look back at the history of the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, aka the Widowmaker
Porsche makes bloody good cars. They make darn fast ones too — the GT3 RS can run circles around most supercars, on most racetracks. The GT3 RS is a fantastically put together marvel of engineering, it’s Porsche’s white knight, the headmaster of their GT range. If that’s the case, then Porsche also has a dark knight in the GT range. Where the GT3 RS is the headmaster, the GT2 RS is the backbencher, that throws spitballs at it.
In fact, Porsche’s latest GT2 RS has been famously referred to as the most bonkers road-going 911 to roll out of the factory to date, and those claims aren’t baseless. It is faster than a 918 Spyder around the Nurburgring. Yes, it makes almost 200 horsepower less than the 918 and also lacks fancy all-wheel drive systems, the GT2 RS is rear-wheel-drive only. It shouldn't be to hard to conclude why it is called the widowmaker, then. But what if we told you that the said GT2 RS is the tamest one out there...
It's the 1990’s — the air is crisp, the music is good and the cars are getting faster than ever. Porsche is trying to break in to the all-new GT2 category in racing but they have come across a minor speedbump along the way. They need something that is more powerful than the GT3, but they cannot base it on the Turbo because that is four-wheel-drive. Their solution was ingenious. Take a standard 911 Turbo, turn up the wick on the engine and get of the all-wheel-drive system, and all the weight that came along with it. This meant the 3.6-litre flat-six from the Turbo now made 424bhp and 540Nm of torque, and with only 1290kg to pull around, the 991 GT2 could reach 100kmph in just 3.9 seconds. This is the 1990’s we’re talking about, remember. These figures were borderline astronomical. On the outside, the 993-generation got the most extensive bodykit too — a massive spoiler at the rear, aggressive splitter at the front and borderline pornographic bolt-on wheel arches. Sadly,Porsche made only 57 cars over three years so you’ll probably never see one on the road and because they resale for exorbitant amounts of money, you’ll probably never be able to buy one.
By the time the 996-generations came about, the GT2’s motorsport purpose had died down. The GT3 was now the focus of Porsche’s racing department and that allowed the GT2 to be even more bonkers than before. It was faster, it was more brutal and even wackier. Bigger turbos meant that the power figures went up to 476bhp and an astonishing 640Nm of torque, from the 3.6-litre twin-turbo flat-six. It also came with carbon ceramic brakes as standard to reign it all in when you needed to, or at least attempt to anyway. With the GT2 tipping the scales at 1420kg and power going to the rear wheels, it was definitely a handful to drive. In fact, the 996-generation GT2 was the first one to be nicknamed the widowmaker. One of the biggest reasons for this moniker to come about was the lack of any sort of driver aids — no traction control, no stability control. Another reason was that Porsche tuned the GT2 to produce understeer under hard cornering, to make the dynamics more approachable. The outcome was exactly the opposite though, while turning in the car would understeer but if you went near the throttle pedal on the exit, it would snap oversteer thanks to the oodles of torque on reserve, making it an incredibly hard car to master.
Porsche had learnt from its mistakes by now. A rear-wheel-drive insanely fast Turbo without driver aids is recipe for murder. So what did they do? They gave it driver aids, yes but they made sure they added more power, more torque and gave it an even higher top speed. The standard 997-GT2 was one of the few Porsches at the time to cross the 200 mile-an-hour mark, thanks to the 523bhp and 685Nm of torque from a 3.6-litre flat-six with two turbochargers that had variable geometry to reduce lag. The 997 GT2 was not as hardcore as the 996-generation car, it was loved by more people and it could be driven by more people. Naturally, Porsche decided to step it up then.
Enter the greatest GT2 of them all, the 997-gen Porsche 911 GT2 RS. Limited to 500 units, the RS got a bump of 88bhp over the standard GT2 to make a massive 611bhp. This was done thanks to an even higher boost pressure on the turbos, new exhaust system and new pistons. The boffins at Porsche weren’t done yet though, they gave it a generous helping of carbonfibre, also resulting in the iconic exposed carbonfibre hood to drop the weight by 70kg, with it tipping the scales at just 1370kg. The GT2RS could sprint to 100kmph in just 3.5 seconds, with a manual transmission! The weight shaving and the added power meant the GT2RS had a v-max of 330kmph. A fun fact about this GT2RS is that it’s internal codename was ‘727’, which signified the Nissan GT-R’s laptime around the Nurburgring. Timo Kluck, a test driver for Porsche at the time, claimed to have broken the GT-R’s record by nine seconds in the GT2 RS. That was it then, the GT2 and GT2 RS were thought to be finished, Porsche did not refresh them for a long time, nor did it talk about bringing in a new one with the 991 generation. But it was playing us all along.
While the 991.1 gen cars didn't get a GT2 edition, the 991.2 did. Initially shown off at Microsoft's E3 event in 2017, the 991.2 Porsche 911 GT2 RS was launched at the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed. There was hype around it like no other 911 of recent times (except maybe the 911 R), the silver and carbon launch scheme harked back to the 997-generation cars and it had an extremely aggressive bodykit thanks to the huge air intakes and the massive rear wing. The latest GT2 RS had a 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged flat-six at the rear, making 691bhp, the most of any road going 911, and an earth moving 750Nm of torque. The roof was made using magnesium to keep the weight down and there was a heavy injection of carbonfibre everywhere possible. The rear and side windows replaced glass with polycarbonate and the exhaust was fully titanium. A Weissach package could further reduce the weight by 30kg, getting the total down to 1440kg. The Weissach package used even more carbonfibre and titanium and also got a set of magnesium wheels as standard. A big disappointment with the 991.2 GT2 RS was the lack of a manual gearbox option, this one was mated to a PDK only. However, the GT2RS was insanely fast, it holds multiple track records to date and at the time of launch it was the fastest production car around the Nurburgring before the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ stole its crown.
The GT2 and GT2 RS have a legacy like no other Porsche. While the other GT models are known for how crisp they fee, how sharply they handle and how perfectly balanced they are, the GT2 has always been the wild one with an excessive dose of power and a bonkers aero package translating to a driving experience like no other. Scary if you don’t get it right, but more satisfying than anything else if you do. Will we get a 992-generation GT2 RS? We don’t quite know yet, but we surely have our fingers crossed.