“The Racers Group” 2002 Le Mans 24Hr GT Winning 996 GT3RS Porsche.
Only 2 owners from new and in good, original condition. Chassis #109 is about as good as it gets, for someone with a serious GT3RS collection.
The Water Cooled era of racing Porsche’s is attributed to the 996 era cars of post 1998, but in reality, it started way before the road cars made the ‘big leap’. For at least 30 years prior, Porsche, in true Porsche fashion, had been testing various forms of water cooling in the greatest way possible; motorsport. Combinations of air and water cooling were finally merged, into plain old “wasser” cooling in the mighty 962 era. For all of our love, for all things “luft” cooled, Porsche conceded in the late 80’s that wasser was how you efficiently keep 600Hp cool for 24hrs of abuse. It was the rigours of the “ultimate test”, the Le Mans 24Hr, that forced Porsche’s hand and created the start of a new, exciting and successful era.
I might not be alone here, when I say that the mid to late 1990’s GT era was up there in my top 3 greatest era’s. Actually, any era that has a production based car, running at the front of Le Mans always has me enthralled. Sure, I love the prototypes, but those GT cars… Courtesy of those leanings, I have always been fascinated by the GT race within the race and the amount of TV coverage and works support the cars coming 16th overall recieve, means it isn’t just me. I just wish the ACO and FIA would let Stephane Ratel organise all the new GT Supercars into a category and give the new, poorly named Hypercars, the flick. 1st world problem right? Anyways, I can dream.
Porsche’s radical new 996 911 came out swinging in every way. It had to; the company was cash strapped and the 993, even in it’s venerable GT2 form, was now outdated. With a successful system of production, by the Stuttgart and Weissach factories and an impressive parts bin from the 964 and 993 era (Dare I say 3.2 Carrera too, with the G50 box?) the 996 GT3, Cup, R and RS models came out in quick succession and to much praise, from a very learned and demanding customer base.
The new for 2001, GT3RS, a now iconic moniker, featured a GT1 based Mezger designed 3.6, that had a unique intake manifold, larger diameter titanium valves and a wilder cam profile, to suit the new engines breathing and revving capabilities. The FIA enforced 43.1mm restrictor kept power down to 430 hp at 8,500 rpm. The FIA allowed spherical joints in the suspension for the LM GT category, which Porsche capitalised on, along with RS only front and rear uprights, that lowered the car, but kept suspension angles optimal, for even the most zealous curb hopping. Weighing in at 1100KG dry and with an impressive array of aerodynamics, reducing drag and increasing downforce, the GT3RS was the car to beat in the coveted GT3 category in the early 2000’s.
Chassis # WP0ZZZ99Z2S692109, the car we proudly have for sale here, has lived quite the charmed life. After winning the coveted 2002 Daytona 24Hr with factory support, The Racers Group (TRG) owner and founder Kevin Buckler, negotiated with Porsche for a new GT3RS and the use of factory drivers Timo Bernhard and Lucas Luhr for the race. Porsche clearly held Buckler in high regard, as a package was put together that not only netted them GT pole position, but also the GT win, on the cars race debut. A win for Mr Buckler on his LM24Hr debut should not be disregarded too.
In an excellent 2017 interview with Porsche “Excellence” magazine by Nik Bruce, Mr Buckler described the car as magic from the get go, earning it the nickname of the “Happy Chassis”. This wasn’t just some ‘vibe’ either; Luhr qualified the car 2.5 seconds faster than the next GT3RS, winning LMGT pole position on debut. Going on to win the LM GT 24Hr would just cement the “Happy Chassis” legend. Chassis #109 had a relatively charmed life, with an accident at the 2003 Daytona 24Hrs, resulting in a damaged nose (Damage can be verified on chassis.) and a subsequent DNF being her only low-point of note. GT Wins at Mosport and Mid Ohio were enough to remind everyone that the Happy Chassis was still a contender, right up to her 2004 retirement.
In 2005 Mr Buckler decided to keep paying the bills and chassis #109 was sold to the current owner, a Brisbane based gentleman racer, who wanted a car with a special history. A few local events and even the odd hill-climb kept the “Happy Chassis” in fettle. She currently has a circa 5 hour old “Sprint” engine installed and a 0 hour “Endurance” spec engine is a part of her impressive spares parts package.
With 2 owners from new, no bad stories, good mechanical and cosmetic condition and about as good a race history as any GT3 RS extant, chassis #109 is looking for a new home. I look forward to hearing from interested parties and helping the lucky new owner, realise why she is known as the “Happy Chassis”.
* On a personal note, you may have noticed the Natalie L Streather sticker on #109’s nose. It is esteemed Porsche author Adrian Streather’s daughters legacy. Her story can be read here: https://www.adrianstreather.com/
We intend to donate 10% of our profit to her foundation. I wish the Streather family the strength and love they need and deserve.