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An Australian Racing Ace Reunites with a Special Porsche 962

Though not well known to American racing fans, Tomas Mezera is a celebrated name in Australian motorsports who’s raced most major styles of car over his long and storied career. After starting in Formula Fords, he quickly moved into touring cars, V8 Supercars, and even took a stab at sportscars/prototypes. Perhaps the two greatest accolades in his career were victory at the 1988 Bathurst 1000 and a shot at Le Mans 1990 in a Porsche 962C.

Now the chief driving instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School on the Gold Coast, Mezera gets invited to plenty of high-profile Porsche events. At one of these events, some 21 years after driving the 962 at Le Mans, one kind soul at Porsche lent Mezera the production car-style key to one of the model’s most famous examples.

The Le Mans winner from 1987, this Rothmans-liveried 962 is one of the most iconic racing cars ever. It’s also a great memory jogger. Listen as Mezera—constantly grinning—regales us with stories from racing the 962; a car which left him « absolutely knackered » and bruised. Such was the speed of this car that, after moving from this monster to a V8-powered Holden Commodore, he felt as if he was driving in « slow motion. »

Considering the vast array of cars he’s tested, that’s high praise. Perhaps more than any other feature of the 962, it’s the power which stands out most to Mezera. The relentless, unrivaled acceleration of the 962 is something that leaves even the most seasoned veteran struggling for words. « I remember the car never stops accelerating, » he recounts with his heavy Czech-Australian accent—but his eyes, smile, and mannerisms say much more than that.

It’s a good video. Give it a watch.

It’s obvious the 962 leaves an indelible mark on those who experience its magic.

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Mark Webber Shows a Tennis Legend the Quick Way Around Silverstone in a GT3 RS

With 11-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver sitting shotgun, Mark Webber showcases his textbook-smooth driving, his dry wit, and his affability. These qualities help convey some of the sensations that a professional racing driver experiences on a regular basis, and some of the exhilaration that makes someone want to strap themselves into a 500-horsepower supercar. It’s enough to put a mile-wide smile on Laver’s face.

Always a cool customer, the octogenarian tennis legend listens calmly as Webber relays the basics of road course racing and demonstrates the absurd stick and speed of the GT3 RS. Webber’s smooth style converts Laver’s initial expressions of shock and awe into joy. There’s a special mixture of comfort and concern that anyone riding in a thoroughbred sports car with a world-class driver gets to experience.

Though this conversation is occasionally drowned out from the roar of the 4.0-liter engine, the two have obvious rapport. Their sincere, broad smiles demonstrate they’re both on something of the same wavelength while negotiating the technical Porsche Experience Center at Silverstone, despite the obvious difference in experience. Chalk some of that up to a wonderful teacher—and a pupil whose mind is still open to new experiences despite spending eight decades on this earth.

The two Aussie sporting legends beam before leaving the pits.

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Onboard the 991 GT2 RS as it Sets a Production Car Record at Bend Motorsports Park

Though the potential of the latest force-fed RS has never been in question, its newest record only solidifies its reputation as the ultimate track weapon. Perhaps more so than any of its contemporaries, the robust GT2 RS is one of the few cars which actually deserves the overused and often misappropriated accolade: « racing car for the road. »

Luff putting in a lap full of sideways moments.

In addition to its record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the GT2 RS now holds the record at Australia’s Bend Motorsports Park: a new, 4.8-mile circuit roughly with 35 corners. With over AUD$100M invested into the facility at this point, the high-speed circuit has the variety to test the GT2 RS completely, and the safety measures to push it regularly to and beyond the limit.

A miniature Nordschleife, the 35-corner course tests the consistency and precision of any driver, even the versatile and highly experienced Warren Luff. A a former runner-up in the Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia championship Cup, Luff was chosen by Porsche to attempt the record, which he accepted eagerly.

At the end of the day, Luff covered the tight, technical, and massively challenging course in 3:24.709. As seen from the onboard footage above, the wow-speed traction is remarkable for something with 700 horsepower powering only the rear wheels, and the high-speed stability is something most dedicated track cars could only hope to match. Getting to see him balance this Porsche at high speeds—nursing the front end and catching the regular twitches from the rear—is a delight for any avid track rat.

Only occasionally does the stable GT2 RS break sideways over the curbs, but a quick flick of opposite lock reins the 911 back in-line. While obviously a demanding car that requires constant steering corrections, sensitivity, and commitment, it’s capable in every department, and confidence-inspiring in talented hands.

It’s certainly been a highlight in my career – something that I’ll remember for a very long time. It was a privilege to do it in such a special car.”

At 4.8 miles long, Bend Motorsport Park is the second-longest permanent track in the world.

 
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The First On-Track Review Of The GT2 RS: “It’s Like A Caged Lion”

The new rear-wheel-drive, turbocharged, Nürburgring-owning ÜberPorsche, the GT2 RS, is an intensely interesting beast. As cars are currently being delivered to customers, very few video reviews have as yet been released, and none of them have featured any on-track driving. This new video from Drive.com.au changes that. For the first time it give us an opportunity to hear directly from someone who has driven the Porsche both on street and track. Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix F1 race, Porsche brought a handful of Aussies out to experience their full line of 911 sports cars, including lead-follow on-track action with the GT2 RS.

We already know the GT2 RS is ridiculously fast, but how is it to actually drive? Not surpringly, ‘fast’ is a defining characteristic of this Porsche, but even better is the duality of the GT2’s nature. In regular driving, or non-full-throttle acceleration, the GT2 RS is said to be a surprisingly docile driving experience with plenty of grip, instant-action PDK shifts, and motion-enhancing computers working overtime. It also appears as if it’s simply to drive quickly. It seems like my grandmother could set a quick lap time at this wheel. That’s not to say driving this Porsche is easy, by any means, because if you put even a toe wrong, things could go pear-shaped really quickly. However, if you have the talent to keep this 911 shiny-side-up and between the ditches, it’ll reward you with prodigious speed.

It’s incredible how far Porsche’s highest performance street car model has come since the 930 was initially introduced in the mid-1970s. Back then, 260 horsepower was enough to earn the car a ‘widowmaker’ title, but today a Porsche with 700 horsepower is considered « docile and simple to drive », even at race track speeds. Between the technology that Porsche employs to keep the chassis stable and the technology that Michelin has put into building a GT2 RS-specific tire compound, this Porsche is a marvel of modern car tech, and for that reason we love it.

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Late Race Caution Costs Porsche Bathurst 12 Hour Victory

Over the last decade or so, the Bathurst 12 Hour has quickly become one of the greatest sports car endurance races on the planet. Several factory efforts have been attracted to the call of the Mount Panorama circuit, and Porsche is not exempt. As the first round of the newly-formed Intercontinental GT Cup series, this dawn-to-mid-afternoon race has become a truly blue riband event. Porsche threw a lot at this race, including a series of highly talented drivers in a quartet of quasi-factory effort 911 GT3Rs, and they ran a stellar race, and were on pace to win the race on pure strategy.

As the race wound toward its final laps, it was clear that the leading WRT Audi R8, and the second placed Mercedes GT3 were going to need to stop for fuel to make it to the end of the timed distance. Porsche had fourth through sixth locked up, waiting for them to run out of petroleum go juice in order to move up into 1-2-3-4 formation. The first Porsche in line, the Black Swan Racing car of Tim Pappas, Marc Lieb, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Luca Stoltz was marginal on fuel, but had pitted two laps later than the Merc and Audi at the front. They weren’t sure they would make it to the end, but even still, there were three more Porsches lined up behind them to at least lock out the podium.

The race is very long, but being in contention at the final hour is the most difficult part. This race is a sprint from the moment the flag drops, and the drivers aren’t given much respite during the 12-hours. It’s important to preserve the car, to not make any foolish moves, and to keep the aero clean, but you also have to be fast, and that’s what the Porsches were. While a number of front runners had mechanical issues (at one point the race was being lead by an Audi when its gearbox failed and left the car stranded), or crashed (one BMW driver took out a contending Bentley in a silly pass attempt in ttime to shine.

Then, 20 minutes from the checkered flag, a huge crash happened at the top of the mountain. An Audi was involved in a quick spin while working with some slower class traffic. It was a simple and mostly innocuous spin that left the car backed into the wall, but likely not too damaged. Then, a full 12 seconds after the Audi came to a stop, a Mercedes AMG GT3 rounded the corner at full chat, passing a caution flag in the process, and smashed essentially unimpeded into the side of the Audi. The resulting carbon debris littered the entire race track, and both cars would need to be flat-bedded off of the race track. Marshalls paused the race with a full course caution, but it was clear the debris would take more than 20 minutes to clean up. After one lap of caution, the race was given a red flag stoppage, but the clock was still running. As the clock ran down to zero, the cars were sitting idle in pit lane, and the WRT Audi was named victor. Porsche’s fuel strategy was completely thrown out the window, and they could do no better than third rung of the podium.

Not having to worry about fuel any longer, the Black Swan Racing team took their third place, and with it the Pro-Am class victory. Porsche will be satisfied with their class victory and overall podium, but will likely always wonder what could have been. They were so close to winning the whole thing, only to have it snatched away from them. The best you can do is shrug it off and exclaim « That’s racing ».

Also in the Pro-Am class was the fourth-placed Competition Motorsports Porsche of Pat Long, Matt Campbell, Alex Davison, and David Calvert-Jones. The fifth-placed Pro-class Craft Bamboo Porsche was driven by Kévin Estre, Earl Bamber, and Laurens Vanthoor, followed closely by the Pro-class Manthey Porsche of Romain Dumas, Fred Makowiecki, and Dirk Werner. The Grove Motorsports GT3 Cup of Stephen and Brenton Grove with Ben Barker also won the Class B race for Porsche.

The Porsche teams will have another chance to take the laurels at the second round of the ICGTC series with the 24 Hours of Spa in July.

Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser, Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars:

“That was an extremely exciting race characterized by many safety car phases. This made it all the more astonishing that we got all four 911 GT3 R to the finish of this red-flagged race without any problems whatsoever. Four Porsche in the top six – but unfortunately not in the positions we had aimed for. Still, we can take many positives home with us from this season-opener of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. We’re not where we want to be with the pace and the qualifying results, but we can still be very happy with the efficiency and the strong team performance. We all very much hope that the driver who had the accident that led to the cancellation of the race is okay.”

Marc Lieb, Driver, Black Swan Racing 911 GT3 R #540:

“This race was typical of Bathurst. Lots of accidents, lots of drama. We did exactly what we set out to do, and that’s to get through without any problems and bring the car home in one piece. We succeeded. We may not have been the fastest Porsche out there, but we had a super strategy. So we’re pretty pleased. This is a huge success for the team, particularly considering that it’s their first time in Bathurst.”

Patrick Long, Driver, Competition Motorsports 911 GT3 R #12:

“A great team result for Porsche. Our race was good to the end and we had a very promising fuel strategy. A class victory would have been possible at least. The race suspension then threw everything upside down. Still, congratulations to Black Swan Racing for their well-deserved podium and class victory.”

Kévin Estre, Driver, Manthey Racing 911 GT3 R #991:

“If it hadn’t been for the early termination of the race, our strategy would have worked and we would have made it through to the flag. Then perhaps victory would have been on the cards.”

Frédéric Makowiecki, Driver, Craft Bamboo Racing 911 GT3 R #911:

“We knew that we first had to bond as a team. We’ve never raced together before, and now we’re contesting the Intercontinental GT Challenge together. Bathurst was completely uncharted territory for us. We managed to improve step by step from the first practice, and towards the end of the race our 911 GT3 R was running better than it had over the entire weekend. We started from 26th on the grid and came sixth – we can be proud of this team effort.”

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