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911 GT3 RS to the Nurburgring | PH Footnote

N24 is perhaps the greatest race for production-derived sports cars; there's an obvious choice for the journey there, then...

By Matt Bird / Thursday, July 11, 2019

Imploring motorsport fans to go to the Nurburgring 24-Hour race feels like urging a golfer to watch the Masters, or a tennis player to be in SW19 right now. It feels obvious to the point of condescending, because it should be the event of the year.

There are different types of fans, though, and the Nurburgring's conspicuous lack of pomp and polish will deter as many as it encourages. This is not a glamorous F1 race, or even a (by comparison) plush Blancpain round, despite using the same sort of cars. If anything it has more to do with rallying as a spectator sport, up close and personal in the woods for hours, waiting for cars to arrive at insane speeds just a few metres away.

Hopefully you'll be aware of all this, the N24's ability to entrance even the most cynical of attendees with its incredible blend of drama, excitement and just damn good racing. But there's a way to make it even better, indeed to improve quite a lot of motorsport: take one of the road cars involved.

There's a lot of criticism nowadays about motorsport bearing no relation to the production models you and I can buy, the glory days of homologation a distant memory and most series comprised of silhouette racers. There's an argument to be made there, with control engines in a lot of championships and reduced manufacturer involvement, but not so at N24.

There's nothing better at proving the point than a 911 GT3 RS . And even with our weekend ownership only of the temporary variety, the similarities between road and race car make it far easier to support the car on track than merely a shared badge.

Both, after all, are making more than 500hp at dizzying rpms, the race car in fact making its 550hp at 9,500rpm. Naturally they sound similar, too, howling and growling their way through their rev ranges like only flat sixes can. The PDK Sport mode of a GT3 RS even means the gearshifts thump through in a fashion seemingly not far off a race sequential. Or it feels like that, at least.

It's a staggering machine, the RS, one that you'll just want to drive and drive once keyed in to its incredible responses and enormous abilities. Once you've seen what it can do on track, too, albeit in a modified guise, the desire to get out there and channel your inner endurance racer is hard to resist.

So what's the point? The one beyond Porsche road cars are good, Porsche race cars are good, PorschetonHeads and so on. The point is that the N24 grid is chock full of production derived sports cars, and they're all cool, some seemingly not far from roadgoing spec at all. There are M240i Racings that sound just like the standard 2 Series, Lexus coupes that thunder around looking just as enormous on a racetrack as on the road (yet going very well) and GT86s that just seem to glide from bend to bend on not much more than momentum. That's before mentioning the Clios, TCR touring cars and everything back to the Manta. A whole smorgasbord of cars compete, all with clear links back to their production counterparts. For owners of those road cars - or merely those lucky enough to borrow one for the weekend - it makes the racing even better knowing what your car's fundamentals can achieve. It makes climbing back into your car that bit more special afterwards, as well.

British GT features a lot of the stars from N24, and is well worth catching as an owner or otherwise. For the engines mainly, V10s battling V8s and flat sixes, there to remind you what a great decision your super sports car was. (Handily, there isn't a bad one in the bunch.) It extends further down, though, with the Clio Cup still packing out grids, the GT86 rally car competing across Europe and TCR even in a UK championship. While taking a GT3 RS to the 'ring is an extreme case, the joy of watching your car race in competition form is absolutely still there. It might even extend to watching the Jaguar i-Pace in the eTrophy - that's one to investigate next time, though...

[Photos: Dafydd Wood, Falken]

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