An automotive Menage a Trois

It feels just so right. Every twitch, every judder – I can practically feel each brake caliper as it’s being squeezed. I am in complete control. But what am I doing here on what is essentially the wettest trackday I’ve ever attended?

Having suffered an irksome spell of snow and bad weather over the past month, I was happy with anything other than more snow. So when the weather report said ‘Heavy showers all day’ I was jubilant. I’m no alien to a bit of damp and as I hadn’t yet had time to change my discs and pads to more powerful items, what better way to consummate my relationship with my latest GT3?

So the soldiers with me, Henry in his beautifully pristine Cobalt Blue 997 GT3 and Guy in his powerhouse Dark Grey Metallic Nissan GTR. Warriors into battle, not a shred of fear amongst us. As a threesome we’ve together done a multitude of international events. We’ve probably travelled to Europe together dozens of times. We know the best viewing points at the Nurburgring (They’ve done the Scuderia Hanseat 3 times each) We’ve done trackdays together in the 100’s. And this has been going on for nigh on a decade. It’s this experience that we’ve collated, not only as trackday drivers, that allows us as a trio of guys to anticipate each others moves in such a safe and fun experience, regardless of environmental influence. I remember once in Papenburg, northernmost Germany, I had severe tyre damage on 2 wheels. I had to drive back from Germany to London at 30MPH through the night. It took me 9 hours to get home. Henry and Guy (with chest infection) did not leave my side and stuck with me the entire journey.

It’s this trust that allows the three of us to attack a trackday employing the ferocity we desire, with zero visibility, without risk to ourselves or others.

Enough with the pleasantries. How was the RS? [broken record mode]Absolutely bloody brilliant [/]. I have no other word to describe it. Rain or shine, this car is the king – undisputed. It really was non-stop rain all day and the GT3 is not a car to take liberties with. But I know this car, I’ve lived with it for years. I know its habits, its foibles and its idiosyncrasies. I know when to press it, I know when to submit.

The RS was so similar to the cooking vanilla GT3 that I’m really struggling to find some difference. I do notice an eagerness to rev – this is down to both the free-revving nature of the lightweight flywheel and also an effect of noise driven by the lack of rear window insulation (it’s made of lightweight plastic). I also noticed that when provoked into a drift (which was practically a permanent state yesterday), the car had a tendency to snap back into your line of sight with aggression. If not checked, this can lead to snappy fishtailing. I’m blaming this on a number of things; Firstly, the road conditions were totally chaotic – with the deep freeze over winter, this was followed by monsoon-like weather. What this did to the track surface is anyones guess. Secondly, I hadn’t had a geo done on the car yet, so I’m not sure what kind of camber this car has out of the factory. Rumour has it that camber settings from factory are often inconsistent and need adjusting, regardless of setting. Finally, and almost obviously, we have a wider track on the RS. This would possibly account for more grip on the rear, something you’d notice when coming out of an oversteer/drift moment.

Two other things I’ve noticed about this car. There’s the noise. It really is a stupendous, epic, shrieking banshee wail that entices at 3k rpm, exhilarates at 6k rpm and brutally rapes the senses at 8.2k rpm. Halving the thickness of the rear window and turning it into plastic has amplified the acoustic brilliance from inside the car and the pursuit of revs continues over and over again. The other thing to notice is the fantastic braking stability with that spoiler. It has none of the shifting, fidgety nature the GT3 has, allowing you to haul in under hard braking time and time again with sure-footedness. It’s reliable, dependable and controllable right up to the stopping inch, allowing you to focus on your approach line with clarity.

As it’s thinner brother proved before it, the RS is a delicate tool. The GTR a crushing carpet bomb of excellence as it devours anything in its path with utter abandon, the RS choosing instead to surgically remove its targets one by one, micro-managing inputs, gracefully crafting a line from one corner to the next and allowing itself to be adjusted minutely as it communicates the level of each and every wheel, one by one. It really is a revelation in driver communication and the low level seating of the fixed carbon seats places your arse right bang in the middle of the front and rear wheels. I have full dolby 7.1 DTS surround and I’m watching Avatar from the best seat in the house. It’s still no match for the GTR’s power on the straights, nor its incredible technology when juggling drive distribution through its four wheels. Coming out of a chicane onto a straight, the RS is no match for the GTR as it just opens its maw and chews through metal, tarmac, flesh and bone combined. The only hope you have is to fix up a number of consecutive bends – at this, the GTR struggles to contain it’s leviathan weight as gravity simply cannot be overcome – regardless of how many GB of processing power you throw at it. Still, I know which car I’d rather drive home in and the GTR is no doubt worthy of the many international accolades it has collected. Speaking of, has anyone questioned why Michael Bay hasn’t used one in Transformers? It’s perfect!

What was surprising was the wet weather ability of the RS – especially given it was on Michelin Pilot Sport Cups – horrible wet weather tyres. I suspect with the Pirelli Corsa R Systems, the car would have ripped a hole in the fabric of space time continuum. Although grip was severely restricted, the sheer level of communication allowed for healthy progress.

Henry in his GT3 provides the comedy. We’ve always enjoyed the odd black flag at Snetterton as we cannot resist the odd showboating. Today was a little different with the marshals as they appeared to be quite laid back and relaxed, considering there were only 20 cars on the track that’s no surprise.

I still maintain that there’s very little difference between a GT3 and its RS stablemate. It’s just as competent and equally effective in both rain and shine. I really am loving the colour scheme though, as loud and offensive as it may be, it’s quite suiting really. The ultimate test will be on a dry day after I’ve done my track geometry set up. Then I will be in a position to compare and that day can’t come soon enough.

My name is Cem. I am a GT3 addict.

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