718 on The Green Hell (August 10, 2023 - 1 month ago)
I've been taking a few notes along the way as we make our way through Europe in these glorious machines, so why not share a bit?
There you have it.
A Carmine Red Boxster GTS 4.0, owned by yours truly, firmly planted on the asphalt of the famous Nordschleife. No more Google'd pictures of other people's rides - now it's legit.
The butterflies were dancing as we drove to the entrance of the track for the touristenfahrten session. The familiarity of the place was comforting, as I knew where to go and what to do, but it's still a place that commands respect. From the massive variety of cars, to the awe-inspiring view of the very high speed Döttinger Höhe straight as you drive up to the place, it exudes seriousness and purposefulness. Fittingly, the Boxster, despite its playful nature as a droptop, can be just as serious and purposeful, as I've discovered over the past days.
This though, is the acid test.
For my first session, the track lived up to its name as the cold, damp weather conspired with the greasy track surface to give me unexpected and alarming understeer and oversteer in practically every corner. Like, immediately. If I hadn't already had experience in the wet with the car, where it was solidly planted in the twisties of the Dolomite public roads, I would have thought there was something wrong with the car, or the tires.
It was...unsettling...to say the least. As Andrew romped off into the distance on his Pirellis, the Michelins and I tiptoed around the track and breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the 21 kms. We could only surmise that it was the surface we were driving on that was the problem for those specific tires. In retrospect, I should have had Andrew try it out too, just to compare. He'd had no such issues. In fact, he was waxing lyrical about the prowess of the car in the wet, and justifiably so. But I wouldn't have wanted him to have some sort of nasty, no-grip-related issue in my car either, so...
Thankfully, the next track sessions turned out warm and dry, and that 'hellish' moniker faded into a distant memory as the car came alive. No grip issues whatsoever, and my early trepidation gave way to mild confidence. The Nordschleife is not a place to become over-confident, however, so I left myself an abundance of margin for error (mine and others') and focused hard on soaking up the moment. Here I was, driving this stellar high-performance machine, in an environment it was designed for, with all the sights, sounds and smells that an open-top roadster has to offer on a racetrack.
I wasn't hanging about, to be clear, but it is patently obvious that this car's limits are so much higher than my own. Not once did it put a foot wrong, display any instability, or strange behaviour whatsoever. Not that I expected it to really, but a mid-engined car has a different balance to what I've been used to with the S2000, so I was approaching it very cautiously.
As the laps unfolded, my nerves calmed - helped by the fact that Andrew was clearly relishing his Cayman and pushing it harder than I - the fact that the cars are basically identical certainly was a comforting factor, and I felt my spirits soaring. I think a few more sessions would have been beneficial, as I'm definitely a 'slow approacher' and it takes time for me to gain the confidence to get truly up to speed.
But regardless, being there in that place, with all the history and the spectacular nature of the track, with my new car as the icing on the cake (especially as compared to that well-worn Ford Fiesta ST rental from 5 years ago!), well, it doesn't get much better than that.
Here's to giving the GTS a chance to shine on roads and racetracks on the other side of the pond when I get it back home.
It clearly deserves all that and more.
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My only conclusion (given the cars were basically identical in every other respect) is that the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tire, on a cool and wet track surface simply does not have as much grip as Pirelli P-Zeroes.
Here's another nice pic to add to your collection above: