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GT2 RS Clubsport Provides Sunday Drivers With Cheat Codes

As Porsche’s first track-only 911 with turbos since the 993 GT2, the 991 GT2 RS Clubsport has a lot to prove. Both the 996 and the 997 versions of the GT2 came with the Clubsport option, but both were still street legal and neither received the same level of development over the « base » model. Perhaps that’s for good reason. Those generations were bloodthirsty thugs, while their successor is a much tamer animal. Still a monster, without a doubt, but the 991’s performance is more accessible to the competent driver, and the added downforce and simplicity of PDK shifting simplify the driving experience somewhat. Because this car wouldn’t bite its owners heads off at the slightest mistake, it’s not surprising then that Porsche saw a sizable market for a stripped, slick-shod version of their Nurburgring king.

A full rollcage, forged suspension links, a 115-liter FIA-certified fuel cell, an a Recaro race seat with longitudinal adjustment and padding system offers the driver peace of mind. The extensive aero package—including a carbon underbody—give it stability and inspires confidence at speed. An optimized water sprayer mean the motor’s full 700 horsepower will always be available to the driver; no heat soaking that plagues the roadgoing version and cuts total output after a few hotlaps.

Considering the speed that all that power offers, these are not qualities as much as they are necessities. Especially since the GT2 RS Clubsport is available to any paying member of the public. Fortunately, the car looks almost friendly, and this middle-aged man looks relatively comfortable putting in a respectable lap around Spa Francorchamps in one.

There are no hysterics, no snaps, and no hopping through high-speed corners. Look at how he gingerly navigates Radillon and Eau Rouge and still carries staggering speed. You know the car will offer the seasoned professional more, but there’s an astounding level of performance available to the skilled trackday driver. Though this car’s balance is benign from the start, adjustable traction control, stability management, and anti-lock brakes only make the car more accessible. That’s not a term you often use to describe a 700-horsepower 911.

Even well below the limit, the straightline speed is enough to leave most supercars in the GT2 RS Clubsport’s mirrors. It must be a huge confidence boost to pass cars which are clearly driven at the limit when just pushing six-tenths. With straight-line speed that bests that of some prototypes and makes a 997 GT3 look like an econobox, there aren’t many cars which accelerate like this one. Plus, with a confidence-inspiring chassis, every session with the GT2 RS Clubsport must feel like someone changed the game’s difficulty to easy and turned on a few cheat codes for good measure.

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sponsored: Commission your Porsche 911 as fine art

Many 911 owners would already consider their car to be a piece of automotive art – we certainly do – and gazing over the curvaceous bodywork can give many hours of pleasure.  But there’s more than one way to enjoy the stunning appearance, and having it committed to canvas would be special indeed. Which brings us to the work of renowned artist, Rob Hefferan. Fascinated with art since childhood, his first exhibition in 2003 showcasing his skills in figurative work and portraiture was a resounding success. It’s those skills along with an international reputation for quality and unrivalled attention to detail that has led to his work being commissioned by numerous celebrity clients, and it turns out that Rob has another passion; “I’ve been obsessed with cars since I was young, and that developed into a love for Porsches, and the 911 in particular”. 

A serial owner of our favourite sports car, his collection has included the 996, both generations of 997 model, and he now enjoys a 991 Carrera S. A proper car guy, then, which is why he’s decided to focus his talents on the Zuffenhausen marque, offering owners and enthusiasts the opportunity to have their pride and joy recreated as fine art. He admits this is a new challenge and one he relishes, already having set to work creating around a dozen paintings of various Porsches. While such artwork isn’t entirely new, what’s different here and core to Rob’s ethos is capturing even the smallest of details that make each car unique. And having seen it for ourselves we are talking about beautiful pieces of art here, the sort of work that would complement 911 ownership in a way that other pictures just can’t. Painted either in oils or acrylic depending on the timescales involved, each work can take anything from 150 to 300 hours to complete and the work is also unusual compared to other automotive artists in that he is happy to depict not just the car but to include the owner as well. It’s where the talent for portrait work really pays off. 

As for the process of commissioning a painting, an owner can either provide pictures of the car or Rob will travel to view your 911, employing a professional photographer to take dozens of detailed reference shots from which to work. It’s a painstaking process but one that results in something very special, but there was something we were keen to ask and that’s whether he had a favourite 911. “Not really” says Rob. “I love all of them, but if pushed I guess I’d have to say it’s the cars from the 1960’s that most capture my attention.”  “It’s the shape and form that I find so appealing, and the way the light falls on the bodywork. There are few cars like it, and I really admire Porsche’s heritage, especially when it comes to motorsport.” That emphasis on history and quality really shines through when it comes to the finished painting, and whether you own just the one car or are lucky enough to have a collection to see them represented in such a way is likely to prove very hard to resist. You can see examples of Rob’s work by visiting his website at http://www.robhefferanautomotiveart.com, but we’ll say now that you should be prepared to find yourself as tempted to commission his services as we are.

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Porsche: concepts mules and prototypes

Before any new model goes into manufacture the design – in various stages of finalisation – has to go through practical testing. These vehicles are prototypes, recognisably and most often visually identical to the subsequent production vehicle.

Far less frequently these days, where more extensive research and dynamic development can be carried out with software simulations, a manufacturer experiments with a radical new idea by building some of the technology into the preceding model. These cars are often referred to as ‘mules’.

In the past, the need to keep particular experiments confidential even led to some mules wearing total disguises to fool both press and competitors.

Examples of this at Porsche include the Audi 100 Coupe, into which Weissach shoehorned the 928’s V8 and running gear; later the 928’s innards would also be built into an Opel Diplomat.

Concepts are used by manufacturers to float an idea, to test acceptability of a particular design or style. A phenomenon which in today’s homogenised and regulated auto industry has become unusual, the most successful example in Porsche history was the Boxster concept, greeted with standing ovations when it was revealed in 1993.

That the resultant Boxster – which would closely prefigure the new 911 – was so similar to the concept was a tribute to Porsche’s original design, achieving homologation with a minimum of compromises which usually dilute and sometimes completely spoil the original idea.

The real workhorses of pre-production are, of course, the prototypes, masked these days if their makers want to hide them by an astute application of chequered tape, which brilliantly sabotages visual perspective.

Of the thousands of prototypes built, virtually all of them are subsequently broken up, occasionally to the dismay of auto historians. In deference, however, to the interest they generate, Porsche has selected a handful of the more remarkable prototypes it has kept, and sometimes displays them at the Museum at Zuffenhausen…

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Porsche’s GT3 RS Is A Great Race Car Right Out Of The Box

Warning: Some profanity in the footage above

Regardless of how much experience a racing driver has, some cars are so sharp-edged they require a sometimes painful period of adjustment. Despite being quite handy behind the wheel of a supercharged S2000 and now an A90 Supra, former formula racer Jackie Ding initially struggles with the 991 GT3 RS at Toronto Motorsports Park. However, he’s a flexible driver who can tailor his style to suit whatever he’s in, and in this series of dramatic laps, we can see he quickly adapts to the demands of one of the sharper 911s around.

A justifiably tentative outlap shows us just how the GT3 RS will let go abruptly and continue to rotate. Cold Michelin Cup 2 tires and a little more pendulum effect at work nearly rotate Ding off the track within a few corners. Quick hands honed from years in formula cars keep him pointed the right way, but it’s an indication of the edgy nature of such a focused car. Ding’s aggressive style gets the car regularly out of shape, but he soon learns he can’t quite take liberties with it like he can with his Honda.

Unlike his S2000, the GT3 RS doesn’t like to be floated sideways through the middle of the corner as much, and he needs to tread carefully. As he describes it, « such a fine line to try and balance on. » A few corners later, he shows just how unforgiving the car is if hustled over the wrong curb (2:27), and soon he’s pointed in the wrong direction. You can’t accuse him of lacking chutzpah, though.

By attacking the curb at a shallower angle and softening his throttle input, he’s able to get the stiffly sprung GT3 RS to rotate perfectly within just a few laps.

After softening some of his inputs, using delicate maintenance throttle over the curbs, and catapulting out of the corner with a little less wheelspin, he whittles his time down to a scarcely believable 1:15.1. For reference, that’s four seconds faster than he could muster in his tuned S2000 wearing Advan A052 tires, which is lighter and arguably better suited to such a tight, technical track. Just take into consideration his lack of experience of the car, and the achievement is all the more impressive. Not only does this demonstrate the GT3 RS one of the most capable track toys around, but Ding’s ability to change his inputs in short time is just as impressive, if not more so.

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A Surplus of Tech and Performance: Has Porsche Gone Too Far?

Clarksonian excess is positively joyous on paper, and the items that grab review headlines trend towards both the extreme and the concrete. Everyone with a bit of petrol in their veins knows that 700 horsepower is a lot, and 200 is simply not very many. At the same time, not everyone agrees on what makes a car fun. What works in a headline to bring people in, and what constitutes thoughtful criticism that keeps people reading are not necessarily the same. For that reason the subject of excess in modern Porsches requires further examination. While the sales figures indicate that Porsche has their customer base pretty well nailed, does it necessarily follow that the brand has stayed reasonable and accessible?

Too Fast?

Mr. JWW contends that maybe, for road drivers, Porsche has gone too far. The GT2 RS is designed to work on track, that is part of its very nature. At the same time, the compromises required to make it the fastest production car around the ‘Ring make it almost entirely inaccessible on the street. At its intended purpose the GT2 RS is virtually unrivaled, but on road the edges of the car’s performance envelope become infuriatingly distant.

This isn’t a problem that is unique to the GT2 RS, the GT2 RS is simply emblematic of it. In terms of straight-line speed any 911 will get deep in to triple digits before it feels like it is breathing hard. Despite being significantly more road and comfort oriented than the GT2, both the Turbo and Turbo S still offer more performance in every metric than can be routinely enjoyed out in the world of traffic and rogue deer.

The merits of « slow car fast » are often parroted, but if the majority of your enjoyment comes off-track that does hold a fair amount of water. At road speeds is a GT2 RS more enjoyable than a Carrera Club Sport or a 993 Carrera RS despite how much more performance it offers? Does this prodigious performance mean modern Porsches offer « too much » performance, or is it indicative of users simply refocusing what sort of enjoyment they seek from their cars?

Too Much Tech?

While I am certain that the paragraphs above are going to be somewhat contentious, I don’t think this will: New cars have a lot of tech in them. New Porsches have an extraordinary, and occasionally overwhelming, amount of tech in them. While Porsche clung to their analog roots for an extremely long time, hop in a 996 Carrera and compare the number of toys on offer to a current car, the 992 is a technological marvel of adaptive suspension, rear wheel steering, and programmable drive modes.

While all of these ingredients make the car faster, do they make for a better sports car? Had Porsche not stayed current the brand’s popular sports cars could have become niche curiosities like the eternally-lovable range of Morgans. While many enthusiasts claim to prefer simplicity, the broader market does not follow. The current 911 tries to be all things to all people, and the host contends that in comfort mode the car is decidedly more GT car than outright sports car.

The interior is more complex as well, with an analog rev counter flanked by configurable digital displays at both sides, and a dash-mounted infotainment display of a size that would make an iPad blush. Perhaps all this makes the new 911 more versatile, but does it make for a better sports car? Is it a step too far?

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