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by Tim Beissmann

Joining the Porsche 911 Turbo S on the stand at next month’s Geneva Motor Show will be a car that is expected to signify Porsche’s return to the Le Mans 24 Hour race in a factory capacity and emphasise its efforts to bring hybrid technology into full-scale sports car production.

The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid – based on the recently released 911 GT3 R racer – will line-up in the Nürburgring 24 Hours on May 15-16 and could return to Le Mans in 2012 under new regulations that encourage hybrid vehicles.

In a dramatic step away from the conventional hybrid setup, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid features an electro-mechanical flywheel system that uses kinetic braking energy to power two 60kW electric motors mounted in the front axle assembly. The flywheel is mounted in place of the passenger seat and is capable of speeds as high as 40,000rpm.

The accumulated power is discharged at the press of a button through the front wheels in bursts of up to eight seconds. Teamed with the 358kW 4.0-litre flat-six already powering the rear wheels, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid is effectively a part-time all-wheel drive with greater overtaking ability and acceleration out of the corners as well as enhanced fuel economy.

Porsche is yet to reveal specific performance data of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid (someone has to save something for the actual motor show after all) but insists the car will be used as a rolling racing laboratory for its future hybrid and motorsport ventures.