Piers Ward06 July 2010

Video: TG thrashes 911 GT3 R Hybrid

Exclusive in-car footage of Porsche’s petrol-electric racer. Turn up your speakers

Think of this Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid as an irrelevant racer at your peril. Just when you thought hybrids were a done deal and all the tech was sorted, that they were going to be boring forever more, Porsche comes along and completely shifts the goal posts.

This thing is utterly brilliant. It's not about chasing fuel figures or CO2, it's about trying to maximise performance. So instead of batteries, which take a long time to charge, there's a flywheel in the cockpit. It acts like an electric motor, spinning away at up to an enormous 40,000rpm, ready to accept or release energy in an instant.

There's a paddle on the left hand side of the steering wheel which you pull to get the extra boost, and all 160bhp is delivered to the front wheels instantly, transforming the 911 into a four-wheel drive car for six seconds. When you've already got 480bhp on tap thanks to the ‘normal' petrol motor, 160bhp doesn't sound like a huge amount.

Don't believe that for a moment. The difference in power and speed when you pull that lever is really marked, a big shove-in-your-seat moment. It's certainly enough to change where your braking zone is, or your gear-change points, because you're approaching everything so much quicker.

Other than the complications of remembering to pull the paddle, as well as change gear and generally work out where the track is going and what the car is doing, it's an effortless process. By the end of three braking zones, the flywheel is fully re-charged. The weirdest part of the whole thing is the noise is makes as it's getting charged up - like a vacuum cleaner on speed, whirring away frantically.

For the moment, this tech is limited to the racing car. This exact car nearly won the Nurburgring 24 Hour race in May (the only reason it didn't was because the petrol engine broke down) and the Hybrid was brilliant there because it allowed the drivers to pass slower traffic easily, brake pads wore out slower and the car could go an extra lap between fuel stops compared to the normal GT3 R.

But it could work on Porsche's high performance road cars. Not for fuel saving reasons, more as a bonus in the power stakes. On the basis of this drive, let's hope Porsche gets a shift on with that achieving that.

Now watch our exclusive in-car footage of Porsche’s petrol-electric 911 GT3 at the track:

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