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Bringing the 959 and 911 GT2 RS Together: The Pinnacle Of Porsche

Even thirty two years on the little details of the 959 can make other 911-based cars seem pedestrian. Where the GT2 RS is a wild machine covered in scoops, wings, and hyperbole, its floor is mere metal. The 959 separates its occupants from the pavement with nomex. Point, 80s dream machine. It seems that every other trait about the car is similarly insane. Time may have marched on from its contemporaries, but so much of the 959, at least on paper, seems thoroughly modern and extraordinary. While we know that in every measurable way related to on-road performance the GT2 RS will savage the elderly 959, but Everyday Driver seem to be asking is the new car as compelling?

In a strictly dollars for donuts way, the GT2 RS absolutely is. The GT2 RS cost less than the 959’s recent maintenance. Despite its formidable performance it remains oddly accessible, a trait it shares with the 959. The two cars also share interiors with lesser contemporary 911s. Oddly the GT2 RS and the 959S share a 211-mph top speed.

The two cars of course differ in focus. While the older car may have been developed for Group B homologation, in implementation it fell somewhere between 80s Supercar and ultimate-GT, with a dash of rock crawler thrown in for good measure. The one in the video was street parked in Monaco for many years, and was apparently used regularly. The GT2 RS is a fairly unabashed track car.

Of course, given our focus here at Flatsixes, we’ve talked about the 959 at length. We’ve featured wrecked 959s, 959s Doug Demuro likes, modified 959s, and Brad has ridden in one. We’ve also spent a lot of time discussing the GT2 RS, from heavily-optioned cars, to record setters. While we could crow on about how the 959 is the ultimate expression of Porsche’s transition into a tech-driven automaker, we’ll let Everyday Driver show you. This 28-minute video is an excellent watch.

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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 993: the 911 that had to succeed

In retrospect, it’s easy to say Porsche’s mistake was its decision to keep the G-series 911 in production for 15 years, but from the company’s point of view, through the early 1980s the 911 was selling ever more strongly.

Regular updates and revisions ensured it remained at the top of the performance stakes. The robustness which made it a car you could count on day after day meant that despite its archaisms, it was still the ultimate road and track sports car.

However, within Porsche it was also a source of frustration to many of its engineers and designers keen to modernise it, dispensing, for example, with the torsion bar suspension and introducing assisted steering and a less idiosyncratic ventilation system. Journalists in other respects always well disposed towards the 911 observed it was becoming increasingly an enthusiast’s car, lacking broader appeal and depriving Porsche of a wider market.

The 928 launched in 1977 was supposed to address the GT segment of the market, but by the time the Vorstand had approved the next 911, Typ 964 in April 1984, sales of the 928 were already in decline. The 964 itself was a radical step in engineering terms – a completely new chassis and suspension which allowed fitment of ABS and assisted steering, a larger and more potent flat six, and four-wheel drive.

A conservative board, however, would not permit the designers to change anything above the axle line, which meant the 964, despite its revised front and rear bumpers, looked remarkably similar to its predecessor. Moreover its four-wheel-drive, such an innovation when Audi introduced the Quattro in 1981, was no longer a sensation, and early 964 buyers were able to confirm what the magazine testers had found, that Porsche’s fixed 2:1 rear/front torque split made the latest 911 an uninspiring understeerer.

The rear-drive C2 911 appeared a year later, but by then the damage had been done: in a generally morose market, and one which had halved in the US, clearly the 964 would not be the model to rescue an increasingly beleaguered Porsche.

A rolling of management heads saw new blood brought into the company. A former Weissach R&D engineer named Ulrich Bez was enticed from BMW Tech to become engineering boss, and he appointed his chief designer at BMW, Harm Lagaaij, another ex-Weissach man, to reinvigorate Porsche styling. These two were the impetus behind the next 911: the 993.

Bez was particularly critical of the 964’s crude ride and the C4’s handling, and Lagaaij’s remark when he arrived at Porsche’s design studios in October 1989 that there was “nothing going on” has gone into the history books. Work on 911 Typ 993 would start within weeks of the 964 C2 reaching the showrooms.

This time, a chastened Vorstand, which had pensioned off its managing, engineering and styling directors in short order, was prepared to offer Bez and Lagaaij more licence, and the pair took as much advantage as their still-constrained development budget permitted. 

Nevertheless, the new 911 represented a challenge: how could the new 993 retain its defining ‘Neunelfer-ness’ yet be endowed with a more modern appearance and wider appeal? 

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Is a 911 GT2 RS Faster Than A 918 Spyder at Hockenheim?

Unlike many cars of its ilk, this GT2 RS sees a great deal of track time. Whether it be racing against current GT3 Cup cars or highly modified Nissan GT-Rs, sebastian vittel’s RS is a regular sight at tracks across France and Germany. It’s been given a few tasteful modifications to suit it to the regular beating it takes; utilizing Endless pads, steel brakes, taller wing supports from a GT3 RS, and a Manthey alignment for even more purchase on the pavement. As we see in the footage below, its performance is enough to run with the 918 Spyder—a car which costs nearly six times as much. This stellar performance makes you wonder whether the GT2 RS is merely the quickest 911 on the market today, or if it’s the defacto Porsche flagship of recent years.

Despite having only two driven wheels, the GT2 RS actually betters the four-wheel drive 918 Spyder in low-speed acceleration. This is a real asset at the tight and technical Hockenheim, where strong speed out of the hairpins leading onto the long straights pays dividends. It’s the turbocharged, two-wheel drive GT2 RS which excels in these slow-speed acceleration zones, and only once they have room to stretch their legs a bit does the 918 stretch a small lead. Not exactly what one would think when considering the specs, eh?

Weighing roughly 500 pounds more than the GT2 RS, the 918 isn’t quite the agile thing that the latest RS is, but it has a habit of belying its weight and putting it to lighter, more powerful cars. So much of that comes down to the way the 918 makes great use of its hybrid power when driven through all four wheels. With minimal wheelspin and wild torque from zip, shouldn’t that make it the king of hairpins?

Only once is vittel beaten off a hairpin (1:50), but it’s his too-early entry that’s to blame.

Well, sebastian vittel once again proves the versatility of the RS with this duel. Granted, these two aren’t pushing more than 8/10ths, the 918 isn’t exactly track-tuned, and traffic does allow vittel to close the gap after the hypercar begins to walk away. Nevertheless, it’s a strong showing from both, but it’s the RS which looks even stronger after making quick work of what ought to be the quickest in the Porsche stable.

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Watch This 600-HP Porsche 911 GT2 Dance in the Damp

Nicolas Werver’s 997 GT2-based racer is a striking collection of parts. Though once a street car, the current car wears the bodywork of a GT3 R, and the attendant downforce helps give the man some real certainty when trying to drive this wide-hipped monster along narrow mountain roads. In addition to the racecar’s hide, he’s added a few custom touches to the body with a widened front, quirky canards, and a bigger front splitter. The result is a remarkably capable car in the rain—quite an achievement considering it sends its 600 horsepower to the rear wheels alone.

A strong front end gives Werver reassurance in the wet.

While we’ve seen some drivers carefully navigate hillclimbs in cars like this, Werver’s quite comfortable in his GT2, though it didn’t come easily.

Getting the turbo motor to run smoothly was no mean feat. The engine’s long teething period was marked by problems with hoses blowing off, wheel sensors failing, and flimsy gearboxes shattering under the turbocharged torque.

Eventually, Werver replaced the standard H-pattern with a paddle-shifted sequential gearbox. This allows him to keep his hands on the wheel the whole time and dial in opposite lock more rapidly. When it’s wet out, that happens quite often.

The combination of accurate steering and Werner’s quick hands give him a confidence in the wet conditions which compensates for a comparative deficiency in traction; he races against four-wheel drive rivals. That said, the Porsche’s purchase on the pavement is stunning. Outside of most hairpins, the power delivery is progressive enough to put the full 600 horsepower to the road cleanly, and only occasionally does the car snap. Seeing all these qualities in action, we realize how he was able to finish second at Abreschviller, and only beaten by one of Europe’s fastest Evos. Werver is the 2018 French Hillclimb Champion, after all.

Even with rooster tails coming off his tires, he seems to navigate parts of the course faster than some would in the dry.

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