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Road Test: 9ff GTrack
With the sixth generation Porsche 911 released and the first sales and customer drives on the horizon, we look back at what has now become history. It is a history filled with one of the finest handling, sonorous, track-biased 911 setups available. We are of course talking about Porsche’s motorsport-inspired GT3, now in its fourth generation. This particular GT3 has been taken a step further by Porsche specialist 9ff from Dortmund, Germany. It is called the 9ff GTrack 480 and it is a potential GT3 RS-beater. 9ff have managed to undercut the RS price tag too.
The Germans have taken the sophisticated animal and improved it into a yellow, fully race-bred monster. 9ff have aimed the GTrack at the track day crowd. So this, the first GTrack sports car can be considered as nothing more than a toy to learn how to drive a race track; how about that for a tuning project and a way to start your racing career as the owner of this GT3!
The basis for the package is a second generation 2010 Porsche 911 (997) boasting an enlarged 3.8 liter engine producing 441hp. It had been fitted with a number of second-generation options including dynamic engine mounts and a pneumatically lifting front axle to compensate for the low ground clearance.
So let’s start with the power plant. The stock 3.8 liter is good for 441hp at an incredible 8,500rpm in standard tune. 9ff installed a new air filter CUP layout, ECU upgrade for E-Throttle, Variocam and HFM system, and motorsport spark plugs with 9ff special heat rating to the car. These modifications increase power figures to 480hp at a lower 8,250rpm. Torque figures stay roughly the same at around 430Nm. Further modifications are available for higher figures but were not fitted to our demonstration model. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, which offers ultra precise gearshifts. The modifications allow this track demon to do 0-100km/h in just 4.1 seconds, with a top speed of 312km/h. For track use, this is more than enough.
An improved soundtrack and exhaust upgrade are added to the technical upgrades of the engine. The exhaust manifolds are manufactured from stainless steel and have diameters ranging from 50mm to 70mm. The valve exhaust system with adjustable sound offers owners a sporty or quiet tune soaring from the 90mm stainless steel tailpipes at the back. An improvement not to miss out on when considering this “GT3 Plus”. It’s a must-have option on some sound-regulated race tracks.
The power production over the full rpm range is just fantastic. 9ff touched the engine, but didn’t change the brilliance of it. The flat-six is sonorous and flexible with a raucous redline and reach. It’s a masterpiece with plenty of traction in the low and mid-ranges. The gearing does not to feel overly stretched. The only addition is that improved manic howl from the back, a distracting influence whenever you try to learn how to drive around a race track.
It is mostly in the driver involvement where 9ff have placed the focus on this project. It’s what gives the owner a bit of security, a car/driver relationship, an easy learning curve when he gets behind the wheel of his sports car for the very first time. The driving impression even at idle, is something special even for us. This 9ff GTrack has been built for the track with its lightweight treatment, suspension upgrades and ultra-light, forged OZ Racing alloys with Michelin cup tires.
The lightweight treatment sees it shed weight in every possible section of the car. From a light weight battery, light weight racing seats, one mass flywheel (instead of dual mass) to sport seat belts, light weight wheels and fixed engine mounts saving up to 6kg with respect to the stock dynamic mounts. Deletion or replacement of these types of hardware gained a weight of 120kg with respect to the standard GT3. The total setup weighs in at 1,295kg to be precise. An astonishing result, making it lighter than any road-going Porsche GT3 available to this day. It even has a better power-to-weight ratio than the limited 911 GT3 RS 4.0, currently shipped from Zuffenhausen to new owners around the world!
But there is more to discuss here. The combination between the new suspension, the lighter wheels and the massive RSR-style rear wing provides a completely different feel to the GT3. The setup features a wider front track, an inch either side with wider wheels and wheel arches. The OZ Racing alloys are sized 9.5 and 12.5×19 front and rear, with 265/30ZR19 and 325/30ZR19 Michelin Cup tires. The stock PCCB brake kit has been uprated with Porsche Supercup Pagid Green brake pads, braided hoses and DOT 5 fluid for improvement endurance on the track.
At the front a new front spoiler is fitted, at rear you will spot larger brake cooling ducts. The new coil-over suspension provides a noticeable improvement in handling and features stock PASM dampers with RSR, Carrera Cup and H&R parts. The front and rear suspension arms are from the 911 GT3 RSR racers, the rear alloy under body suspension cross brace is from the Carrera Cup and the springs are made by H&R. On the inside, Cobra racing seats offer an excellent seating position. The 50mm taller gear lever provides the driver closer control to the steering wheel.
When hitting the road for the very first time you immediately feel those racing features, which are part of the GTrack 480 program. The throttle response and gear changes were kept similar to the stock setup, easily felt on a straight line. The gear lever requires hard, precise throws through tight gates because of the racing-type steel synchros. Swappable gears will allow for track-tailored transmission ratios. It is the suspension, which is the deal breaker here. The turn-in feel and cornering speeds are an instant improvement over the stock GT3 (RS) setup. With heated tires the amount of mechanical grip seems endless. The improved balance makes it a track day hero.
So what can we say at the end. The stock 911 GT3 is a thinly disguised racing car, one of the best drivers’ 911s ever, uncompromising, fantastically tactile, irresistibly engaging, but possible to handle. On those facts 9ff created the GTrack 480; a race-bred sports car that turns the 997 GT3 into an RS beater, even capable of attacking the brand new 4.0 Limited Edition with ease. Oh and they offer it for less than the difference in price between a stock GT3 and a GT3 RS. So if you are planning to order a GT3 RS 4.0, just think twice.