Sports car racing fans have been waiting for this one for a while. The new Porsche 911 RSR has been caught testing at Sebring this week. It’s what under the hood, or rather where it is under the hood, that’s really significant.

Sebring is home of the annual 12-hour endurance race that attracts drivers, teams, and manufacturers from around the world. Historic and renowned for its very bumpy racing surface, it’s the perfect place for Porsche to test their latest Le Mans racer. October weather in Florida is much more temperate than Germany, but testing here gives Porsche a head start on next year’s long distance race.

Here’s the shocker. It’s rumoured that this new 911 RSR is actually mid-engined, instead of having its engine fitted behind the rear axle. For decades, the traditional rear engine layout has been an advantage for Porsche, but in recent years it’s become a detriment in context of the competition. The Ferraris and Fords are mid-engined, and the Corvettes and Aston Martins have their front engines mounted so far rearward that they’re practically mid-engined, too.

A mid-engined racer would put the 911 on a more level playing field with today’s competition, and while the cars that appear in this video don’t sound exactly turbocharged, a redesign of the RSR would be the right opportunity to include a new, turbocharged race engine.

With the roadgoing 911, Porsche has been discretely moving the engine forward in the chassis with each new generation, so this might be the ultimate expression of that strategy.

Undoubtedly, Porsche will make an official announcement soon and, until then, the competition will have to keep guessing. We wonder what Porsche fanatics will think if it does indeed have a mid-engine layout.

Image courtesy Lanky Turtle.

Published on Oct 26, 2016