I’m not sure if this story has a purpose, but it’s one that I’d like to tell anyways.
It’s rare that any two days in this job are the same, but even the days where things are meant to be relaxed and scheduled as ‘downtime’ can sometimes turn out to be the most memorable. This was one of those days.
Back in the summer, I had just come off two days driving and shooting an M2 and a Leon Cupra on the roads around the Nürburgring, with a nice little BBQ on the last evening to round off what was a pretty spectacular working week. I had a couple of hours to spare on the last day before heading back to Düsseldorf to catch a flight back home, which I had planned to spend by
destroying enjoying my humble Hyundai rental car exploring the roads around the ‘Ring and watching whatever was happening on track.
Our resident German race driver/engineer/beard guru, Michael Grassl, who works at Manthey-Racing, obviously took a little bit of pity on my 1.2-litre Korean estate car – he shouldn’t have, it reached an intergalactic top speed of 189km/h on the autobahn, allegedly – offering to give me a tour of the area.
His idea of car was a little bit more up market, in the shape of a 991 GT3 RS that Manthey-Racing were testing on a full complement of KW’s Competition specification coilovers. A road car, on race suspension on some of the best driving roads in the world with a race driver who drives the roads on a daily basis. Hyundai? What Hyundai?
Before we left, a quick refuel was required. Ed’s Tankstelle, the fuel station which is situated just across the public road from the Nordschleife’s famous Dottinger Höhe, is arguably one of the most famous pit stops in the world and almost always has a plethora of fascinating and exotic machinery sitting on its forecourt.
While Michael proceeded to fill the car with Super Plus, in the most German way possible, I set about trying to capture the ambience of the moment.
Anywhere else in the world, a GT3 RS on a forecourt is at the very least a notable occasion. Outside of Germany, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one on the road.
At Ed’s, especially on a Destination Nürburgring day, not so much. If anything, they’re a little bit common, although they never stop feeling like a special car, even in abundance. They always raise a smile or an eyebrow when you meet one coming towards you.
I was surprised that the fuel tank was so large in the GT3 RS, but its 4.0-litre flat six is going to get through that quickly, so it’s sort of stands to reason. This particular fill worked out at about $105USD for 20 gallons or thereabouts, an amount which tightened my buttocks a significant amount.
Needing a sit down, and I wasn’t even paying, I just wanted to enjoy the moment. Of course, it would be nicer to know that I was about to experience this car from the better seat, but I pretty okay with what was about to happen. Hey, any car that has a pit lane speed limiter is all good in my book.
Don’t Forget To Breathe
There are few things in life more enjoyable than catching up with good people in a good situation. Turning off the main road, onto a side road that I must have drove past a hundred times before, Michael explained to me that this is his usual commuter route, the road he drives back and forth over every day.
Admit it, you’re a little bit jealous too.
Approaching a downhill left, into a sweeping uphill right, Michael tells me that this is one of his favourite corners on the route. From the top of the hill, it’s perfectly sighted and with nothing to be seen, Michael tells me to hang on. It was at this point that I realised that the GT3 RS doesn’t come with ‘Jesus’ handles. Jesus, indeed.
There was a short acceleration phase towards the corner, the distinct sound of the flat-six following us from behind. Where I would have braked, Michael was still accelerating. For the record, there are very few drivers that I have faith in, but Michael is one of them. I knew we wouldn’t end up in the scenery, but my brain still struggled to comprehend how quickly and effortlessly the GT3 RS took that first left hander. I vaguely remember a lift, maybe a downshift, but I can’t recall hanging forward in my seat belt. The entire section was taken in such a fluid action that I might have forgotten to take a breath until we were climbing out the other side.
Our adventure continued. We had no real destination in mind, we were just randomly roaming the German countryside, with Michael occasionally pointing at a landmark and telling me a little something about it. “That’s where I live,” as we passed a building that I couldn’t even tell you the colour of.
For all of his speed, it was Michael’s decision making that impressed me the most. You could tell, even from the relative sterility of the passenger seat, that he was maintaining a cool head and keeping everything firmly under his control. If there wasn’t a 100 percent clear line of sight or certainty that the road ahead was clear, the pace was relaxed and kept in check. Only under the exact circumstances, would he leave the GT3 RS off its leash, so to speak. But there was always control. I respected his restraint.
I wanted to capture some dynamic shots of the car and had a great road in mind. Descending from Höhe Acht back towards Adenau village itself, is your quintessential German driving road. Lined with trees, smooth tarmac and the occasional hairpin, it’s perfect.
I’m sure Michael had no complaints driving up and down repeatedly for the camera, not that I would have listened.
These are such remarkable cars. I think they’ll go down as one of the all time great Porsches, manual gearbox be damned!
500hp and 9,000rpm in the most evolved chassis you can buy today, a chassis which can you can use and one which will both teach you and encourage you to be a better driver. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that I won’t ever have one parked outside my house, unless a significant lottery win occurs. Until that does or doesn’t happen, I’ll keep making the most of experiences like this.
Schroedinger’s GT3 RS?
Heading further downhill into Adenau, we just kept shooting and making the most of the sunshine. Looking back on it, it was sort of funny because we were really only doing this for fun. There was no goal or ulterior motive in play. Just cars and cameras.
This short tunnel under the bridge, is one of my favourite places in the whole area. The bridge is for the Nordschleife itself and during race meetings, or even on this day when there’s a busy track day, you have cars absolutely hammering it over the bridge, while the locals go about their business beneath it. The place is heaven; I’ll never tire of it.
With that, our day was over and we went our separate ways.
Like I said at the very start, there’s really no point to this story. It was just an experience and a day that I want to remember and share with you. At the best of times, what we do doesn’t make any rational sense, but on an emotional level, I don’t ever want to live in a world where I don’t have access to opportunities like this. It’s an addiction, and there’s no cure.
And I’m alright with that.
Cutting Room Floor