Spinning at 36,000 revolutions per minute just two feet from my right thigh, a 31-pound flywheel is screaming like a five-horsepower Shop-Vac with the filter removed. The sound pierces the composite shell of my racing helmet and drills through my form-fitted foam earplugs before painfully slamming into my eardrums.
Yet despite the aching annoyance, I welcome and embrace the high-pitched drone. It means, in the simplest terms, that the monster inside this ballistic carbon fiber cocoon is not only awake, but completely energized.
With a stab of the throttle, the kinetic energy in the spinning flywheel is automatically exchanged for electricity – the charged ions power two strong electric motors on the front axle. Instantaneously bestowed with 200 torque-laden horsepower, the sticky Michelin slicks claw at the pavement with a vengeance. I clench the wheel as the carbon-fiber bodied race car lunges forward with more accelerative force than an F-16 fighter jet at takeoff power.
Welcome to the driver’s seat of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0.
Peer high up on Porsche’s performance ladder, above the two-dozen or so street legal 911 models – above even the GT2 – to find the automaker’s most competitive cars. Vehicles bred purposely for the track.
The Porsche 997 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0 is one such model. Compared to its predecessor, which debuted last year, the second-generation hybrid is 20 percent lighter and more efficient without any concession to lap times. While sharing the same paint scheme, the new vehicle is easily identified by its lack of intakes in front of each rear wheel – changes to engine cooling allowed the slats to be dropped and aerodynamic efficiency improved.
Gallery: Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 2.0