A story about GT3 RS's, GT3s, turbo's, one GT4 and every other 991 & 981 model under the sun along with one 997 GT2 and one 997 GT3... all met at Porsche Driving School @ Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi in the UAE. I was there to get certified for Precision. I'll humor you through with few surprises that took place during the event to get you laugh before I break your heart with an accident that struck a masterpiece of engineering.
It's a one day class from 8:00 to 17:00. But I was there for two days (Feb 12 & 13). First day I got certified and the next day I attended with my friend who was driving my car for his certificate. In summary, at 8:00 am we got to sign few papers as we enjoyed coffee and breakfast. Then at 8:30 an interactive presentation began between the instructor and us for 30 minutes summarizing what we'll practice in the morning session. At 9:00 am we start our engines as we get divided into four groups, each group consists of four cars.
My group consisted of one 991 turbo S, my 991 turbo non-S, 991 GT3 and a GT4. The GT4 driver has a 991 GT3 and a 991 turbo S. Believe it or not, his favorite is the turbo then the GT4 then the GT3! The GT3 attendant has a Speciale' too. His favorite is the Ferrari. The turbo S driver, I don't know what else he has. Our instructor was driving a yellow Cayman GTS.
We started with the Slalom. We were only allowed to do it only in the GTS. It was my first time to do a slalom test. Man, I was terribly bad... just like everybody else in the group except the GT4 driver who was a pro.
Then we did the hard braking test. To me it was boring but my turbo had the best braking distance vs. the GT3 and GT4. The use of this test was to teach us that the ABS works and saves us under hard braking even as we jerk the steering to turn, for the car doesn't lose control.
Then we went to the Skid Lane... tons of fun. We got to enjoy skidding the car in a very controlled environment testing it with PSM on and off. I walked out knowing the PSM helps a lot (that I knew) but doesn't do magic when the traction between the tires and pavement gets minimal... silly me, I thought it does, based on the theory I kept in my head for it never failed me before.
Then we went to the Skid Pad to show us the difference between understeer and oversteer. Silly, right? Almost every driver in the morning presentation didn't know what each stands for. So, now they knew! However, holding oversteering on a small diameter roundabout made of cones... nobody could do it except the GT4. We were told there are specialized courses called G-Force that we can learn at Porsche School to master drifting.
Lunch break followed by 30 minutes presentation about track orientation. We started our engines with guided drives by the instructors on the track to learn how/where/when to brake and the Apex Line. I say that was the most helpful for me. While the PDK, PDCC, 4WD, 4WS and PSM always gave me confidence that I don't need to follow said rules, I experienced firsthand how my tires lost grip after few laps for not following the Alex Line. Almost two hours guided track laps with the instructor of each group leading his own and educating us through crystal clear voice on the walky-talky.
Afterwards, the instructors remained in the pit and unleashed two groups together onto the track with few seconds interval in between every two cars. First two laps I started mastering what I learned as I kept closing the gap between me and a red turbo S ahead of me till I took over him. Afterwards I became worried for he was on my tail and the thought of him braking late scared the hell out of me. So I kept building speed on corners and getting further from him till I saw a trio of a Lava Orange RS in the lead and a black 991 GT3 and a white 991 turbo S. That moment I didn't want anything other than getting ahead of the RS.
I got Low Fuel alert, and I thought of getting back to the pit... the thought of abandoning the chase depressed me. But I kept telling myself, we all ought to be running out of fuel at the same time since we started our day with full tanks. So I kept going, taking over one after another till the RS remained ahead of me. I knew as I was closing in that he's within reach but I was worried to run out of time or fuel before I frame him in my rearview mirror... and man, what a feeling when I did!!!
I began screaming with excitement. A whole lap and a quarter lap with him in my rearview mirror before I saw the Checkered Flag announcing a cooling lap. That was when he hit his hazard button announcing he's slowing down. And I yelled "Hey Siri" calling my friend to announce my victory... what a feeling!
Got back to the pit and saw my instructor. I asked him, you didn't watch the circuit, did you? You don't know what happened, do you? He claimed he did watch, but I doubt. And when I told him what happened, he said the tower alerted him that there's a crazy driver on the loose. I laughed, and said "I wish". But I don't think he watched or heard. All drivers I passed were kind enough to approach me expressing their admiration... all but the RS driver who ignored my presence completely as if I was invisible to him till the end of the day. At 16:00 we filled the survey report, had a ceremony, had a group picture and got our certificate along with a gift bag. But that victory made my day and I took it with me to bed along with wonderful memories from the event.
THE FUNNY INCIDENTS
Let's start with me, honestly I thought the PSM is a magic button. And the car will remain in its lane at any speed with no concerns of losing grip on any surface... silly me.
A Porsche 918 Spyder was registered for the course but didn't show up... Overslept!
A Carrera GT showed up very late after missing the morning session. And in the afternoon, it was driven on track like a Camry during the guided track drive only. You can imagine the disgust of the instructors.
A 997 GT2 attended the course driven by a friend of its owner. The owner happened to be Porsche dealer's son who don't know how to drive it, therefore asked his friend to do so!!!! If I was a dealer's son, I'd hire world racing champions to teach me to drive with tons of money under my disposal.
The two Ultra Violet GT3 RS refused to continue the Skid Pad session, suspended their training for the track only in the afternoon. Why? It's everybody's guess. The instructors were puzzled and disappointed. Could be because they didn't want to get their beasts wet.
One GT3 RS Ultra Violet and one GT3 RS Lava Orange abandoned the course before the track session! Why? Nobody knows... they just quit and left.
A beautifully spec'ed Sapphire Blue GT3 owner refused to do Launch Control in his beast. And his response was the only button he'd trigger in a GT3 is the Sport Exhaust Button!!! SERIOUSLY?!!! I felt so disgusted from him that very second and ignored his presence all day afterwards.
Almost everybody never did Launch Control in their Porsches, ever. And they were asking how can it be done!!!
Some drivers didn't know what ABS Brake is.
Almost everybody kept asking about the difference between Understeer and Oversteer, all day long! And we thought Lambo owners are posers!!!
Some of the instructors were Porsche employees and others were freelancers. None would get discounts on any Porsche from the factory. Their answer was, "Porsche is from the most thrifty part in Germany. That's why it's the most profitable company."
The instructors were very diplomatic receiving jokes about the engine is in the wrong side of the car and comparing Porsche to other brands... I was the troublemaker making such comments and jokes. And they were kind to laugh and joke along.
A Lava Orange GT3 RS, did hit a barrier on the track losing the bumper, driver's side fender, door and mirror. You can imagine the impact of such news on everybody on the track... It was devastating.
After two days on the track, my set of tires melted after only 1500 km on them. And my brakes have 45% lifetime remaining... I need a sponsor. P9/Ken, do you hear me?
The turbo understeers like a pig, much on the track.
The Apex Line is a must to maintain grip without over-heating the tires and the brakes. But correct me if I'm wrong, one doesn't follow the Apex Line to overtake others before turns. Right?
GT3s turned to be no match on track to the turbo. Even on Time Attack track days it races vs the GT4. That was news to me. The turbo / S is in the same category with the RS as per the organizers.
Till today, seriously, every night I dream of the RS, every night while sleeping. What a beauty to look at and what a glory... to overtake.
Some pictures can be found here