WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOS: PORSCHE
For the first time in four years the Rennsport Reunion returned to California’s Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, for a huge celebration of Porsche on the year of the marque’s 75th anniversary.
The eagerly anticipated occasion – the seventh Rennsport Reunion, which took place from September 28 to October 1, 2023 – was the biggest Porsche meeting ever, and drew more than 300 race cars and nearly 100,000 fans from around the globe.
Some of the headline attractions included the world premiere of the Porsche 911 GT3 R rennsport, as well as demonstration laps by the 963 endurance racer and all-electric GT4 e-Performance. There was also a jam-packed racing schedule featuring everything from tractors to classic race cars.
It becomes clear here what the Porsche brand means to many people
Complementing the on-track spectacle were various presentations, technology workshops, autograph sessions, music concerts, racing simulators and even a giant Transformers robot.
“The Rennsport Reunion is absolutely unique,” commented grand marshal Alwin Springer. “It becomes clear here what the Porsche brand means to many people.”
The launch of the 911 GT3 R rennsport follows that of the 911 S/T, which was created to mark the model’s 60th anniversary. As with the S/T, the 911 GT3 R rennsport is a limited-production model, with just 77 units slated for production.
On each day of the event racing driver and Porsche ambassador Jörg Bergmeister completed two demonstration laps behind the wheel of the GT3 R rennsport. Based on the marque’s GT3 race car, the model set lap times around the 1:20.00 mark – about four seconds quicker than the best time set by a 911 GT3 in IMSA qualifying at Laguna Seca back in May.
“We barely even worked on the set-up,” Bergmeister revealed. “I drove onto the track, and everything felt great straight away: great car balance, lots of grip and incredible acceleration. I’ve never been this fast at Laguna Seca before.”
The GT3 R rennsport, with its 612bhp flat-six engine, is built for enthusiasts to use on the track, and is compatible with the state-of-the-art e-fuels that Porsche is currently developing. First deliveries are scheduled for mid-2024.
German racing driver Marco Seefried was tasked with showcasing the GT4 e-Performance race car, which develops up to 1073bhp from its all-electric powertrain. Two other high-performance EVs, the Mission X Concept and the Vision 357 Speedster, joined the GT4 e-Performance in the paddock.
Porsche Penske Motorsport’s 963 completed daily demonstration laps at the same track where the hybrid prototype took the pole position for the first time back in May. On October 11-14, the 963 will appear at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans – the final round of this year’s IMSA SportsCar Championship. The 963 was piloted by Works drivers Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr and California local Patrick Long.
Since its inception in 2001, the Rennsport Reunion has served as a celebration of Porsche’s achievements in motor sport, and this year was no exception. Over 300 cars appeared on circuit across various classes. Highlights included the lightweight simplicity of the 909 Bergspyder, the fearsome 917/30 CanAm racer, the highly successful RS Spyder and the brand’s most recent Le Mans winner, the 919 Hybrid.
One of the most memorable contests of the weekend came courtesy of the two Porsche tractor races, which saw world-class drivers conduct a traditional Le Mans start before tackling the challenging 2.23-mile circuit.
“Once again, fans and owners of racing cars were united in their passion. That’s what makes the atmosphere so special,” commented Patrick Long, the former president of Porsche North America. “For me personally, I caught up with many old friends from my career. It felt like the best kind of family reunion.”
The Rennsport Reunion is typically held every three to five years, so the eighth edition will take place between 2026 and 2028.