991 GT3 RS – A Monday morning drive

AGR_RS_drive (50)My iPhone alarm buzzing at 6am on a Monday morning is an all too familiar disturbance. That happy-go-lucky Marimba tone is anything but when it’s still dark outside, and it usually elicits a mixed Pavlovian response of emotion that ranges from anger, to mourning the loss of being asleep, and then to gradual, grudging acceptance. So why, on a public holiday Monday, would I even dream of observing the usual command of that chime?

AGR_RS_drive (48)It’s an easy one. My friend took delivery of his new Porsche 991 GT3 RS last Friday, and he called by my workplace on his way home from Porsche Centre Adelaide to show me. “We’re going for a run with a few other Porsche’s on Monday morning, you should come”. That there is all the reasoning any red-blooded car guy needs to be up before the sun on a public holiday, so when my Monday morning alarm sounded it was far from a chore to get moving.

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AGR_RS_drive (3)The small group was set to meet close to Adelaide’s CBD at the Toll Gate, and when I arrived my friend’s new green RS was already joined by another white RS. The visual impact of the two bewinged and vented street racers parked in an otherwise sane world clearly confused the early risers in their activewear.

AGR_RS_drive (2)The rest of the small group soon assembled – a Cayman GT4, a 997.2 GT3 RS…

AGR_RS_drive (1)… and a 991 GT3. Through sheer luck our morning drive had turned into a quasi congregation of the Porsche Motorsport department’s road-going product and their disciples – those who kneel at the altar of paying more for cars that come fitted with less.

AGR_RS_drive (5)Less sound deadening, less audio equipment, less seats. In fact, less of anything that doesn’t make a morning like this one of the best you could possibly wish for.

AGR_RS_drive (6)AGR_RS_drive (8)AGR_RS_drive (7)Those familiar with Adelaide know of the tough decision when heading to the hills via the Toll Gate. Do you take the twisty Eagle on the Hill Road, or do you revel in the aural delights that only the tunnel can deliver? Those who spend their time driving the European Alps can regularly enjoy both, but us Adelaidians must make the choice.

AGR_RS_drive (9)We chose the tunnel. Oh dear Lord the noise.

AGR_RS_drive (10)AGR_RS_drive (12)We turned off to leafy Stirling and into the Hills proper. The Adelaide Hills driving roads rival the best in the country, but what really sets them apart is their close proximity to the city. In Sydney or Melbourne you need to drive for an hour or two to find anything worthwhile.

AGR_RS_drive (14)But here we are, less than twenty minutes from the city centre, and we’re already absorbed in the types of roads that enable us to discover and revel in what the RS has to offer. It’s mega.

indexThe way the RS turns in and grips is what impresses me the most, and even from the passenger seat I can feel the surefootedness we’re benefiting from. I’ve driven these roads plenty of times, even competed on them in tarmac rallies, and I know that they initially inspire confidence but are full of the types of tiny dips and undulations and blind entries that can easily result in a bent fender or two. But none of this seems to bother the RS, and we make our progress in complete safety.

AGR_RS_drive (13)For my tastes at least, Porsche have got the race car for the road balance just right with the 991 RS. That rear wing is ridiculously brilliant overkill and those front fender vents are straight from an LMP Prototype, yet it hasn’t lost all notion of streetability in the process. There’s just enough chinking from small stones and road spray to remind you that there isn’t really a lot of sound deadening back there, yet you can still hold an easy conversation when cruising. And despite the grip, the chassis tuning doesn’t make the ride uncomfortable. It’s the ideal machine for a Sunday morning coffee run through the hills when there isn’t a track day you could be at.

AGR_RS_drive (47)A side of the GT3 RS that we don’t experience on our drive is its on-track prowess, a side that my friend has been fortunate to explore in great depth. He placed his order for the RS around 16 months ago which helped him gain a spot in the Porsche Masterclass in Europe late last year. Over the space of a week he drove a 991 GT3 RS over 3,000 track kilometers at racing speeds around the Nürburgring Nordschleife and Spa Francorchamps circuits. There was also a few sneaky passenger laps with a certain Aussie Porsche LMP1 driver in the 918 Spyder, too.

AGR_RS_drive (18)I feel lucky to experience a few short blasts through the lower gears of the RS, but I can’t even imagine how it must feel to change down into fourth gear and hold the throttle steady through one of Spa’s long sweepers, feeling the downforce suck the RS into the track, holding a tight line and remaining perfectly adjustable when needed. Hearing these stories makes the relative streetability of the RS even more of an achievement.

AGR_RS_drive (16)From the back blocks of Stirling we cross through many steep valleys on our way to the Clarendon Road, changing our position in the group every so often to watch a different Porsche ahead of us for a little while.

AGR_RS_drive (19)AGR_RS_drive (21)AGR_RS_drive (22)Autumn truly is the best time of year in South Australia, and it’s a lovely morning to be out.

AGR_RS_drive (23)AGR_RS_drive (24)We continue through Meadows and along the famous Paris Creek Road, winding gradually downhill through the valley. This road is largely smooth but it has the odd nasty mid corner bump, and through past drives I’ve found that some of these corners are an exemplary test of chassis tuning. The GT3 RS takes mid-corner bumps in its stride, ones that have disappointingly thrown-off certain Italian sports cars wearing horses on their flanks that I’ve punted through here in the past. Very impressive. We turn off at Ashbourne toward a coffee stop at Strathalbyn.

AGR_RS_drive (26)AGR_RS_drive (27)AGR_RS_drive (28)AGR_RS_drive (29)Interestingly, my friend’s green GT3RS is actually white underneath – it’s wrapped.

AGR_RS_5My friend really wanted his RS in Porsche gelbgrün, a historic colour from the 70’s. And indeed, Porsche do offer this service through their PTS (Paint To Sample) program, where you can order from a long list of Porsche’s back catalogue of colours. The catch is that PTS build slots are only available for the first two weeks of a given production run, and the demand for it with the 991 RS is huge. It was going to blow an already 16 month long wait out indefinitely.

AGR_RS_drive (39)He investigated having it resprayed gelbgrün on delivery, but no matter how perfect the job was it would always carry the stigma of a resprayed car, negatively affecting resale value. With a white RS already on order, the decision to wrap it on delivery was made. Nobody makes a wrap in that exact Porsche shade of Yellow Green, but a 3M wrap that was almost identical was found and work began.

AGR_RS_drive (38)AGR_RS_drive (35)It took two people three weeks of solid work to wrap the RS. But importantly, it can be returned back to its factory shade of white. All of the panels were removed, and the hinges and catches and anything that couldn’t be wrapped was sent away to be painted.

AGR_RS_drive (37)The factory half cage was removed and painted the exact Porsche gelbgrün shade. The entire car was then covered in a clear protective film, and unless you know you’d never pick that it’s been wrapped. Genius.

AGR_RS_03At the same time a Porsche Motorsport Cup Car bonnet was fitted, along with side scoops and vents made in matte carbon by Techart. The exhaust was also changed to something a little more free flowing, even before the car had 20km on the odometer. These little tweaks serve to turn up the volume a little, although it was a pretty loud base to start with. Anything that comes from the factory with a magnesium roof is pretty serious.

AGR_RS_drive (41)We swapped cars on the way home when my friend insisted that the owner of the white 991 GT3 drive the RS back to Adelaide.

AGR_RS_drive (42)It was the only time that I’ve climbed into a GT3 and remarked at how civilised it is. Compared to the RS, the regular GT3 felt smooth and insulated, almost relaxing. It brought back some fun memories, too. When the same friend took delivery of his white 991 GT3 a few years back, we road tripped it across to Sydney one weekend. It felt raw and harsh and very special back then, yet that feeling is now a little diluted when you’ve just jumped out of an RS. It’s all a matter of perspective I guess.

AGR_RS_drive (43)The owner of the GT3 seemed to be really enjoying his time in the GT3 RS…

AGR_RS_drive (44)… although the hour was getting such that increasingly large parts of the drive were spent following traffic.

AGR_RS_drive (52)The outside of the RS is an angle my friend likely won’t see all that often, so we returned to Adelaide on the Freeway to fire off a few rolling shots for the record.

AGR_RS_drive (49)AGR_RS_drive (53)AGR_RS_drive (51)It was only mid morning by the time we returned to Adelaide, still with the rest of the public holiday ahead of us. And had I missed my sleep in? Not one bit.

AGR_RS_drive (36)Words and photos by Andrew Coles

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Gilbert March 29, 2016 Reply

    Wow.. a great read. I can only imagine the aural assault of an early morning, flat six thrash through the hills. And the wrap on the RS looks sensational. Great blog Andrew.

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