Porsche RS Spyder was developed as a custom car for teams planning to compete in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The Porsche RS Spyder could be ordered through the Porsche Motorsport North America, the competition branch of the Porsche’s distribution network in America.
It was known as Type 9R6 when in development and developed to comply with the 24 Hours of Le Mans Prototype 2 category. Automobilie Club de l’Quest (ACO), the French governing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans were the ones to manage the American Le Mans Series as well.
Competing in the LMP2 category also meant that the Type 9R6 will face plenty of competition, but also the development costs will be lowered when compared to the LMP1 class.
Porsche RS Spyder was eligible for the American Le Mans Series (ALM) as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, and other FIA twenty-four-hour endurance racing events.
Porsche RS Spyder was first publicly seen at an endurance racing event. This was the first time Porsche unveiled an endurance racing car since the Porsche 911 GT1’s 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 1998.
Porsche engineers previously developed a lesser-known LMP2000 prototype that was shelved after successful testing due to the severe financial troubles at the Porsche. Technology from the LMP2000 project was then used to develop the Porsche Carrera GT, Porsche’s first supercar since the Porsche 959.
Porsche RS Spyder’s body was developed and tweaked after spending hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel to make it more aerodynamically efficient. Engineers also redesigned the intake and outflow of the air ducts for the radiators as well.
The rear wing and the diffuser improved downforce thus improving road holding properties as well as the overall handling of the car. Both rear diffuser and rear wing could be configured to provide more adaptability at each different track.
Porsche RS Spyder featured a light-weight monocoque chassis made entirely out of carbon fiber. This resulted in less weight and improved stiffness of the car.
A 3400cc 90 degrees V8 featuring four valves per cylinder, dry-sump lubrication, and single cylinder throttle valves in the intake manifold. To comply with ACO regulations, an air intake restrictor was equipped, thus resulting in limited engine output of 480hp maximum at 10,100rpm. This powertrain was specifically developed for the Porsche RS Spyder and was then mated to a six-speed sequential constant-mesh transmission unit. The transmission unit also serves as a part of the chassis structure and mounting points for the rear suspension.
Double-wishbone suspension all around with adjustable front and rear anti-sway bars and horizontally mounted dampers resulted in improved handling, overall stability, and grip.
Brakes were inner vented carbon-fiber discs with double master cylinders and variable brake force distribution managed by the driver.
Due to the extensive use of carbon composites and lightweight alloys, the curb weight was 750 kg or 1653 pounds, the minimum weight required to comply with LMP2 regulations.
Porsche RS Spyder Racing History
American Le Mans Season (ALMS)
In the 2005 racing season, Porsche RS Spyder made its competition debut in the hands of the Porsche factory racing team at the Laguna Seca, where it won its class.
Roger Penske, an American racing team owner purchased several Porsche RS Spyders and retained exclusive rights to use them in the 2006 season where his team ran two cars eventually winning first and second overall positions in the mid-Ohio event, beating the LMP1 and LMP2 competition.
Roger Penske’s Porsche RS Spyder cars also won the LMP2 class in the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans. His team also won the World Driver’s Championship while Porsche RS Spyder won the World Manufacturer’s Championship for Porsche.
In 2007, the Porsche RS Spyder was updated to become Porsche RS Spyder EVO as per the requests of Roger Penske.
Porsche RS Spyder Evo has an additional 23hp, delivering 503hp maximum at 10,300rpm. Curb weight increased by 5 kg.
Dyson Racing team also used RS Spyder cars during the American Le Mans season.
Porsche RS Spyder following the tradition of previous Porsche endurance racers went on to dominate the endurance racing events. It won the LMP2 class in 2007 and 2008 American Le Mans events.
Roger Penske’s RS Spyder Evo won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2008, and it won its class at the 24 Hours of American Le Mans in 2008 and 2009.
In 2008, three teams from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland ran RS Spyders in the European 24 Hours of Le Mans series.
A Porsche RS Spyder won its class in every event, earning the European Driver’s Championship as well as the Team Championship.
In 2009, ACO revised the LMP2 rules and now the engine output was restricted to 440hp and the rear wing should be narrower resulting in reduced downforce.
Following the revisions in 2009, Roger Penske’s team withdrew. Dyson team sold their RS Spyder cars to the US-based CytoSport racing team.
In 2010, CytoSport also won their class at 12 Hours of Sebring and won the overall first place at Lime Rock, Connecticut, and Mosport. They also competed directly with the Highcroft HPD in anotherbRS Spyder.
ACO revised the LMP2 and endurance racing regulations again making the RS Spyder completely obsolete, this resulting in withdrawal from the competition.
However, its wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the American Le Mans series meant that Porsche had to develop its replacements, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Porsche 919 LMP1 Hybrid.