Words: Adam Towler
Photography: Aston Parrott
It’s homework, honest. The YouTube clip starts familiarly enough (I’ve got it on VHS, too, somewhere). See Stefan Bellof standing there in the ‘temporary’ pits that the Nordschleife used in 1983. Visor-less GPD helmet already on his head, he contorts himself down into the expectant Rothmans 956 as the clipped commentary of Neville Hay describes the scene. In‑Car 956 doesn’t allow us to ride on that 6min 11sec lap; no one but the late Stefan Bellof really knew what it was like to lap the Nordschleife in just over six minutes, in the process achieving a certain immortality that would be sealed upon his tragic death at Spa two years later. Instead the film cuts to inside a sister 956B, and the affable commentary of Derek Bell as he talks the viewer around a lap of his own.
The point is, Bell’s camera-laden time was some way off Bellof’s ultimate tour. That footage is probably a 6min 40sec lap, or thereabouts. It took a while to work it out, but it’s obvious really: when I watch Porsche test driver Lars Kern lap the new 991 GT2 RS in 6min 47sec, it doesn’t actually look any slower, because it isn’t really. Sure, the circuit is smoother, and altered slightly, but still: one is an 800kg, 650bhp, monocoque-chassis, full ‘ground effect’ racing car on slicks, albeit more than 30 years older, and the other is, well, simply a 911. A road car for heaven’s sake. How can this be, and what sort of weird and wondrous car is this new GT2 RS?
It’s a question that has been distracting us for months in the evo office, and the general consensus might not be what you expect. Over-powered, under-available, yet another Ring-lap braggart: you name it, the narrative for this story was in danger of writing itself. Perhaps we’ve simply overindulged on GT-department Porsches. Don’t get me wrong, we love every one dearly – who wouldn’t?
But the relentless output of hardcore 911s, each one ever-so-slightly faster, minutely lighter and more appealing to the speculator market than the last, has soured what was once a passionate love affair. Richard Porter brilliantly lampooned the situation in his evo column recently: ‘The next turn-off is the media coverage it’ll garner. The helmswright writers, who will imply it can heal the sick, feed the poor, and allow frustrated racing drivers to achieve some sort of climax.’ Hmm. Awkward.