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Le Mans Champ Kevin Estre Gives Us a Wet Nurburgring Masterclass in a GT3 RS

Getting around the Green Hell with the sun shining overhead is hard enough. When the track is sodden, putting 520 horsepower to the pavement and not tapping a barrier is a Herculean challenge. For today’s demonstration, we have Kevin Estre as our guide around the 12.9-mile circuit. The thirty-year-old Frenchman is a Porsche Supercup, FIA WEC, and 24 Hours of Le Mans Champion, and his driving is defined by confident displays of opposite-locking, wheel-dropping, and curb-hopping. Simply put, his aggressive style helps him in wet and greasy conditions.

There’s more than just quick hands at work here. Estre shows us how to pick a line and apply the throttle when the surface isn’t much stickier than an ice rink. The fortunate sebastian vittel, a stellar driver in his own right, can only sit back in his Recaro P1300 carbon bucket and witness Estre’s brilliance from the passenger seat.

Tuned for the Track

From the start of this frenetic lap, the GT3 RS’ rear is obviously unwilling to put the power down most of the time. Though Manthey Racing filled the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires at to 2.2 bar in the rear to generate a little more temperature in the 51 °F conditions, the GT3 still slithers around a bit. Tire pressures were only one of the changes it made to suit the circuit—Manthey also added KW competition suspension designed specifically for the unique demands of the Nordschleife. Along with a new aero kit composed of a GT2 RS MR’s carbon wing, front canard, and GT3 R diffuser, there’s a little more grip on offer—which is a big plus in these greasy conditions.

Searching for Stick

For most of the run through the 12.9-mile circuit, Estre has to rely on a hybrid line and his quick hands to keep the car moving forward. When he does occasionally run over the dry line, like he does in the second half of Flugplatz (1:48), the car begins to slide at worrying speeds. Even the added downforce can’t help him as he runs over the typical out-in-out line, which is impregnated with rubber that provides grip in the dry, but does the opposite in the wet.

He avoids the apex entirely at Aremberg (2:19) for good reason. We see moments later just how asking too much of the car along the conventional line can cost dearly in these conditions—note how abruptly the rear steps out of line at Adenauer Forst (2:49). Quick hands and coordination can save a driver here at slower speeds, but these antics in quick corners probably result in contact with the barriers.

Only at these lower speeds can Estre get away with full-lock slides which require he take one hand off the wheel.

That said, he can get away with smaller shimmies and snaps at higher speeds as long as he keeps some of his wheels off the conventional line. When crests and elevation changes are thrown into the equation, he has to proceed even more cautiously. Look how he, even after turning gingerly into Wipperman (6:18), has to catch the slithering rear the second he places his inside tires on the conventional line. It’s almost as if he’s driving a rally car here! Only a pro of his stature can pull these stunts off while looking relaxed, but his driving is much more than courage and coordination—it requires circumspection, too.

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Diving Deep into Analog Machines with One Man’s Cherished 997.1 GT3 RS

Some owners develop bonds with their cars so close that they make certain parent-child relationships cold and distant. Perhaps the involved relationship one must have when owning and modifying a car over the course of a decade, one might get closer to their car than they can with kin. Plus, a Porsche 997.1 GT3 RS doesn’t make rude comments at Thanksgiving, nor does it come home with strange suitors and expect you to make small talk. However, like a kid, the GT3 RS does cost a great deal of money—not that spending money on this beauty was something Shawn Lee ever did begrudgingly.

This simple, frill-free GT3 RS is impressive on stats alone. With 420 horsepower, less than 3,000 pounds to haul around, a slick six-speed, and as little superfluous bits as possible, there’s plenty to enjoy. But this model has some history to boot. A former car of the late Paul Walker, this GT3 RS was modified in the way that the face of The Fast and the Furious would have. Walker fitted it with Lexan rear windows, GMG Cup fenders, and Carrera GT seats in the year he owned it, then sold it to Mr. Lee.

A few tasteful modifications make this GT3 RS even more of a driver’s car.

To Lee, the analog nature of this generation of GT3 is its main appeal. « This car gives a workout, » he says. With the ability to make its driver sweat and the level of involvement it demands, it leaves you tired. « It beats on you, » Lee adds. Even compared to the 991 GT3, he finds the visceral, unfiltered experience of driving a 997 GT3 RS can’t be beaten—even if it’s not the fastest machine around nowadays. There’s a deeper connection that older cars offer the driver. The young guns and the laptime-obsessed might not feel the same way, but that relationship one forms with an analog car can really leave its owner panting, elated, and ready for another go.

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Porsche Design Introduces A Watch Exclusively For GT3 RS Owners

The 991-generation GT3 RS is Porsche’s pièce de résistance of the last decade. It’s been tweaked and perfected to levels not seen before. It’s bigger, faster, stronger than any naturally aspirated Porsche in history. That car is dripping with performance, technology, and special equipment that you can’t find anywhere else. In proper Porsche tradition, it punches well above its weight class, taking down more powerful supercars from Italy with ease. Obviously you know all of that, because that’s exactly why you bought one. And now there is a special edition Porsche Design watch to help you celebrate your GT3 RS in all of its awesomeness. You can now extend the ultimate sports car feeling to your wrist!

This collaboration between Porsche Design and Porsche—they are different companies, remember—offers GT3 RS owners a custom-made chronograph with the kind of precision, lightweight construction, functional perfection, and performance that they would find in their stunning choice of car. Both are precisely-timed and fine-tuned machines. The watch has tachymeter markings to help you time laps and calculate average speeds over a specific distance.

The large 42mm watch case is constructed out of black carbide coated titanium with a carbon fiber dial, making it light on the wrist and easy to wear on a daily basis. While a GT3 RS is a track-ready machine, it could also be pressed into daily-driver duty if you don’t mind a loud exhaust and sporty seats. The carbon of the watch dial is actually made from the same carbon as you’d find in the front lid, fenders, and wing of your GT3 RS.

More correlations between the Porsche GT3 RS and the Porsche Design Chronograph GT3 RS? The watch is custom engraved with your car’s VIN. The watch uses clearly distinguished yellow markings for the same reason the car has a yellow stripe at the 12 o’clock position on the steering wheel, so you can see them with nothing more than a glance. The watch’s band is presented in GT3 RS Lizard Green, but comes with another band in black Alcantara for the days you aren’t feeling quite so sporty. The back of the watch case can be customized to your GT3 RS’ wheels, as satin aurum, silver, platinum, black, and Lizard green wheel motif are available.

Like the GT3 RS’ high-revving 520-horsepower four-liter engine, the watch based on the car derives its cool factor from the unseen thing that powers it. With Porsche Design’s first proprietary automatic caliber, called « Werk 01.200 », the GT3 RS features the most advanced chronometric precision Porsche Design has ever offered. It has been certified by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) to verify that it is at least on par with every other major chrono manufacturer. And because it is equipped with a « flyback » complication, allowing the chronograph to be reset at the push of a button and fling back to the start position without losing a fraction of a second, you can start a new measurement without having to reset.

The timepiece is currently available for all GT3 RS owners. If you don’t own one, you won’t be able to buy this watch. It is strictly limited. You must order your new chronometer through a Porsche dealer. Your individually numbered 911 GT3 RS watch is available for about $11,000, and includes the black and Lizard straps in both Medium and Large sizes. Get your GT3 RS on track, and on your wrist.

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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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