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Nico Rosberg Slides a 918 Around Silverstone

« It’s not a road car, it’s a race car. »

You might think that a Formula One World Drivers Champion would find a hypercar a little on the tame side. Perhaps that’s a little hyperbolic, but there’s no denying that a successful career spent in the world’s fastest racing cars must render a full-weight passenger car, on road-legal tires no less, a few rungs down the excitement ladder than most mere mortals would feel.

Which is why his sincere reaction—I’m not aware of any sponsorship deals Rosberg has with the marque—to the 918 is so captivating. The response, the steering feel, and the power delivery all impress the 2016 champion, but the launch really knocks his socks off. If the hybrid acceleration and four-wheel drive enable a fully occupied, 3,600-lb sports car to leave the line like Rosberg’s former F1 steed could, that’s about as high praise as any hypercar can receive.

The look in the German’s face as he launches says it all.

The communicative, rigid chassis clearly impresses the champ, as demonstrated by the opening quote. Within one lap, Rosberg is hucking the 918 into the corner and bending it through the mid-section, braking late, and even dropping wheels in the grass. It’s all quite dramatic; however, the corner exit is always straightforward, easy, and almost clinical. It’s a wonderful demonstration of the playfulness of the car as well as the efficient drivetrain which deploys all that incredible power without much fuss. Who better than Rosberg, a very economical and cerebral driver, than to show off its merits? The two go together perfectly.

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Ride Onboard the 2018 GT3 RS With Mark Webber

Putting a Formula 1 driver in a street car always promises fireworks, and this hot lap with Mark Webber is no different. His talent and composure help showcase the newest RS’ abilities, but also demonstrate how certain drivers are on a level which even the most ambitious amateurs can’t hope to match.

Aside from the Aussie’s expected precision and comfort at speed, a few things about these blistering laps stand out. First, he chooses to leave the gearbox in automatic like the cool customer he is, though he occasionally overrides the software and manually downshifts. You expect a certain ease and detachment from a former-F1 driver, but Webber’s body language looks like he’s driving to church, not putting in a sizzling lap at the Nurburgring F1 circuit.

The Porsche seems perfectly suited for the conditions. For instance, the way the newest RS gobbles curbing with complete stability is simply remarkable. At 1:51 and 3:34, Webber carries incredible entry speed through the curbed chicane, and a sudden snap seems inevitable—yet it never happens.

The few times Webber dials in some corrective lock, he does so to usher the GT3’s nose towards the apex. That mild rotation and the ease with which he both anticipates and catches it are the other striking aspects of the newest GT3 RS. Able to dive in toward the apex with the mildest amount of yaw, the 911 looks near-perfect in the hands of a one of the world’s best.

As he gently steers in (2:25), the rear comes around to meet him.

Even on the brakes, the Porsche seems to possess a level of stability that one wouldn’t always associated with a rear-engined car. Of course, a mild wiggle at the end of the front straight (2:14) is expected, but in technical sections where the 911 is subjected to lots of lateral load while braking heavily, it remains planted underneath him.

Webber checks to see if the camera’s rolling.

Some of that has to do with the innate balance of the GT3 platform, but also the way the car communicates with the driver. When trail braking deeply into Turn 8’s apex (3:10), the Porsche remains incredibly poised. Looking at that first input followed by a slight hesitation, you can see that Webber feels the rear just hinting at breaking away. By straightening the wheel again, he stabilizes the 911 and waits until he can turn without exceeding the rear tires’ capacity. His subtle steering corrections show how much information he’s receiving through the wheel—precisely the sort of feedback needed to balance a car consistently at the limit of adhesion.

Webber checks to make sure his passenger isn’t ill.

Predictably, traction is immense and the Porsche simply fires out of corners like it’s outfitted with four-wheel drive, which is something considering the 4.0-liter’s mid-range wallop. Even with all these assets brought together in one cohesive package, the RS’ performance cannot compare to the LMP1 machinery Webber’s familiar with, but the road car’s frantic pace is more than most mortals can handle. Occasionally, the casual, questioning thumbs up he throws at his passenger reminds us he was one of F1/WEC’s most empathetic drivers, and one that still hasn’t lost any speed.

 
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Minutes After Buying a Porsche, Man is Arrested for Speeding and Has Car Impounded!

There is something infectious about hopping into a Porsche, new or old. The sumptuous cabin, the rumble and response of the motor, and that delicious steering feel goads anyone into seeing what the car’s capable of. Even those who find the subject of automobiles as dull as I find sewing can’t help but crack a smile. Hopping in a Porsche is always an event, and it prompts people to do some silly things.

However, there’s a difference between breaking the speed limit and joining a live racetrack. As Albert Park, the course used for the Australian Grand Prix, is largely a public road most of the year, a 37-year-old Australian man couldn’t help himself sneak onto one of those dual-purpose roads—Aughtie Drive, in this case—and test the capabilities of his 2013 Cayenne, which he’d only picked up ten minutes prior. It seems like scene from a Hollywood film, but this man had the gall to test his Porsche’s mettle in real life.

Photo: Victoria Police

Filming himself only added to his problems as police found him traveling at 100 km/h in a 40 km/h zone and impounded his new purchase. According to the story we read, his Cayenne was impounded for a month and he is expected to be charged on summons for speeding and using a mobile phone while driving.

As absurd as this is, you can’t help but admire the man’s gusto. That’s a Ferris Bueller level of arrogance; it’s not like most adults to act like adolescents high on adrenaline. Yet, that’s the Porsche effect.

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Porsche’s Bespoke Grand Prix Car: The 804

After the recent announcement of Dan Gurney’s death, we thought it only fitting to remember Dan and the car that took him through 1962.

Wikimedia

For the 1961 season, Porsche was content with using a modified Fuhrmann four-cam engine for their Grand Prix efforts, never really expecting to win, but knowing that it was important to just be on the grid. After a season that saw Dan Gurney hustle the car to a trio of podiums (second at Riems, Monza, and Watkins Glen), Porsche realized that in order to win a race they would need a more powerful engine to get the straightline speed on the competition.

Time For A New Engine

As the rest of the field advanced around them in engine technology, Porsche realized that their Typ-547, needed to be swapped out for a new engine. In a bid for competitive performance, Porsche provided its drivers; Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier, a four-cam flat-eight engine, along with a newly developed chassis, with which to attack the 1962 season. This Porsche, the Typ-804, was the first and only chassis Porsche ever developed expressly for the purpose of competing in Formula 1. At the hands of Dan Gurney, when it ran properly, Porsche’s 804 was an incredible weapon.

The new engine in the 804 was a marvel of technology for Porsche. It was, however, still a bit behind the times in Formula 1. The British manufacturers were experimenting with alloy wheels for a reduction of unsprung weight, and fuel injection for improved engine performance. Porsche, however, remained loyal to tried and true steel wheels and Weber carburetors. Similarly, the 804 also remained sprung by torsion bar suspension front and rear, and continued to be air-cooled in Porsche tradition. The engine, however, was capable of a stratospheric 9200 RPM. The rev-happy engine was capable of producing excellent power in the higher ranges, but power at lower RPM was not on par with those offerings from BRM and Climax.

The 1962 Season Began Inauspiciously for Porsche

Arriving at Zandvoort and qualifying 13th (Bonnier) and 8th (Gurney), this was not exactly what the factory had hoped. The race itself was punctuated by a Gurney gearbox failure, and Bonnier struggling home in 7th place. This proved to be all the more humiliating, by the fact that privateer Carel Godin de Beaufort finished in 6th using Porsche’s discarded 1961 machinery.

Qualifying in Monaco proved a bit better, as Gurney stuck his car on the inside of the third row, however, Bonnier started a bit behind him in 18th. At the start Gurney shunted on the first lap, but Bonnier shuffled back into the deck to finish fifth, still a startling 7-laps in arrears of the victor. With Bonnier’s result, however, Porsche did manage to score their first pair of world championship points for the season.

Porsche

For the third round of the Formula 1 Grand Prix season at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, Porsche didn’t show. There were two Porsche cars on the entry form for Bonnier and Gurney, but due to a worker strike in Stuttgart, the manufacturer was not able to make the event. Gurney did attempt to contest the event in a privateer Lotus with a BRM engine, but later withdrew, announcing the car to be unfit for competition.

Porsche’s First Win

In early July, Porsche made the journey to France to compete at the Rouen Les Essarts circuit. Prepared for the journey, Porsche knew that Rouen was a circuit well suited to the 804. With long sections of high speed straight and sweeping curves, the Porsche could really stretch its high RPM advantage on the competition. In qualifying, JB pulled out a 9th grid place, and Gurney settled into the 6th position. A fight to the front ensued, and once Dan settled into the lead, he never looked back. The BRM competition couldn’t keep up with Porsche on the straights, and Gurney won the race driving away, more than a lap up on second place. Unfortunately, after a similarly competitive run, Jo Bonnier suffered a fuel system failure and dropped out 10-laps from the finish. If you want to find out more about the Rouen Porsche victory, watch this vintage recap of the race from Castrol, part 1 is below.

One week after Dan Gurney’s victory, Porsche showed more success at a non-championship event run to Formula 1 specifications. This race was a home race of sorts, as it took place at the German Stuttgart-adjacent Solitudering. The race did not attract many of the primary competitors of the grand-prix season, drawing out many of the also-rans and poorly funded privateers. However, wishing to show up Porsche on their home turf, Lotus made the trek with drivers Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor. Clark managed to take the pole position away from Porsche in qualifying, but Gurney and Bonnier finished out 2nd and 3rd ahead of Taylor. Clark streaked away, but suffered an accident just seven laps in the 25-lap event. From the point of Clark’s retirement, it was a three-horse race with Gurney leading the way. Porsche finished 1-2, with Taylor trailing half a lap behind. This was Gurney’s second victory in as many weeks, and this time, in front of a Porsche home crowd of nearly 300,000.

The Start of Something Good?

Following this burst of success, Porsche executives expected to run away with the rest of the season. A differential failure and a 9th place finish at Aintree in England faded their expectations quickly. At the German Grand Prix, hosted at the Nurburgring, Porsche was over the moon to see Gurney take a pole position. The position didn’t hold past the start of the race and he was later passed by Graham Hill, who won, and John Surtees wrested second position from Gurney as well. While a podium placement was nice, the Germans were expectant of a victory.

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The Italian Grand Prix at Monza, similar to Rouen, showed a high prospect for Porsche, with long straights playing into their strong traits. Reality, however, proved far from expectation, as Gurney’s 804 now suffered a differential failure, and Bonnier salvaged only a single championship point for the manufacturer.

Salvation in the States?/h3>
The following event, the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, New York, again showed promise, with Gurney champing at the bit for a home country victory. Starting fourth, Gurney fought hard, but nobody could catch Clark and Hill as they shot for the fences, breaking and rebreaking track records. Gurney fought for the entire race, but only managed a fifth. Bonnier finished in the 19th position, after some mid-race trouble, coming home some 21-laps down to the leaders.

Homecoming

After the 804s returned home to Germany, it was decided that they had run their last event. Porsche was done with Formula 1, returning to a focus on international sports car racing. The final event of the 1962 season, in faraway South Africa, would remain uncontested by Porsche, and the cars were retired. Formula 1 proved too expensive for Porsche to be competitive, and didn’t provide them with the road car knowledge that sports cars once had. Porsche had their victory, and nothing could take that away. Porsche fans owe a round of thanks to Dan Gurney for providing their lone Porsche F1 victory.

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Legendary Racer Dan Gurney Remembered as First Porsche F1 Winner

Dan Gurney is among the most storied names in motorsports history. Though his racing career with Porsche was brief, the mark Gurney left on racing is lasting. During his career as a driver Gurney achieved wins in Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar and international sports car racing. Indeed, the group of drivers to achieve victories in all four of these fields is limited to Gurney, Mario Andretti and Juan Pablo Montoya. Gurney also achieved the first Formula 1 victories for three different manufacturers, including Posche, Brabham, and All-American Racers (which Gurney owned and co-founded with Carroll Shelby).

Gurney in the Porsche 804

Dan Gurney at the Solitude Grand Prix in a Porsche 804

Gurney won two Formula 1 races with Porsche

His 1962 win at the French Grand Prix is still the marque’s only victory as a constructor in a Formula 1 Championship round. Then again in 1962 Gurney won the Solitude Grand Prix, followed by fellow Porsche drive Jo Bonnier. Both wins occurred in the Porsche 804, a marvelous sounding flat-8 powered Porsche.

Dan Gurney’s career in racing of course did not end with Porsche, or even with Formula 1. Before retiring from driving in 1970, Gurney won a total of 51 races, including winning Le Mans with Ford in 1967. His career continued at the helm of All American Racers for the next four decades, and the success as a constructor continued. Though the AAR Formula 1 effort ended in 1968, the company continued on as a constructor in CART, IMSA GT, and Trans-Am. As a constructor AAR pioneered the Gurney flap, a feature which is used on virtually every wing in motorsport.

Gurney’s influence continued outside of motorsport. In fact, in recent years, AAR has been involved in aerospace development. Indeed, the company recently constructed the carbon fiber landing struts used by the Space-X program.

Gurney in 1962

Dan Gurney in 1962

He is survived by his wife Evi, five sons, and eight grandchildren.

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