RSR Rendez-vous June 1999
Rain Rain Go Away –
What a spring, the summer weather has brought out Porsches from storage much earlier than usual. Too bad it didn’t hold for Instructor’s Day at Tremblant last weekend. About 28 of us braved the predicted rain and severe thunder storms to meet at Le Circuit at 8:00 AM. What greeted us was a huge cloud of black flies and mosquitoes! It was pretty evident that the early summer had been good for their breeding program. Only a few people were smart enough to bring bug spray. I wasn’t one of them.
I hope this is the last time that we flag for ourselves. Somehow I managed to volunteer for three sessions at pit out and two on corners. As bad luck would have it, I managed to get the periods of heavy rain. Flagging is fun and seeing how drivers actually take the corners is instructional. On the other hand we wasted a lot of time changing shifts. It takes about 15 minutes to bring in one crew and get another one out there. It costs us nearly one and a half hours of track time we could have put to better use.
All of us now have a much finer appreciation for the pro flaggers at DEW. Someone asked “Bob why did you wave a blue flag at me?”
“I wasn’t waving the damn flag, I was defending myself from the squadron of black flies that were precision biting me. They must have mistaken me for the Chinese Embassy. Besides, Hugh Kwok was at the Bridge turn! Be glad it was a blue flag I was holding instead of a black!”.
Speaking of Hugh, try asking him to say something over the intercom so you can adjust the level. Wow, can he ever speak Cantonese fast! His 928 Spyder continues to evolve and the latest iteration looks to be more compact and the paint scheme is satin as opposed to gloss. Gorgeous! Still V8 engined, it sings a very beautiful song under acceleration. Things were too hectic to ask him about the changes. I’ll visit his website at www.928spyder.com and see.
We ran a series of drills to prepare us for the coming season. The role playing exercise was a hoot. Instructors paired off, one being the “student”. Students” were given a separate briefing and told to force their “instructor” to keep them under control. I don’t think I saw a single car on the line. They were weaving all over the place with sharp corrections towards turn-in or apex cones. George Grivakis gave a very convincing performance. When told to drive in third gear, he motored around the track very slowly and stalled the car going up under the bridge rather than down shift.
The pits were busy as “instructors” read the riot act to their charges. The erstwhile “students” filled out questionnaires to assess their “instructor’s” performance. One of them ended with a question: “is it normal for my instructor to slap me when I make a mistake?”.
No Brakes! Lap the track as quickly as you can without downshifting or ever touching the brakes. This is a real toughie, and we had flaggers reporting every transgression. Ivano Scattolin arrived at the track saying that his brake light fuse had burned out. He told a great story. Michel Galarneau found a spare fuse just in time.
And now for the bad news …
Did I mention that we were using the full track? Yeah, we were surprised too. We were under the impression that the bump at Seven had been fixed. As I heard it, it had been dug up last fall and filled, left to settle over the winter. We were expecting to use the short track because the repair was not paved yet or, it had just been paved and needed time to cure. Sadly it is not the case. The bumps are still there. There is no indication of when they will be fixed and it is a safe bet that our first DEW will be bumpy as usual.
The only good news is that the bumps did not grow this year.
We’ve noticed that a lot of DEW regulars are attending track events at Shannonville and raving about the place. I wonder if this means that Rennsport might contemplate a change in venue for next year? The Parade guys are going to be very unhappy if the bumps are still there in August.
For those who haven’t been there, Shannonville is a very neat track, very technical, more turns and lower speeds than Tremblant. By way of example, in a 993, second gear gets a good workout. If anything untoward happens, the terrain is much more forgiving. The only drawback for Montrealers is the three hour drive. On the other hand tires last a lot longer on the smoother surface at SMP. This is probably enough motivation for Talon to go fix the bumps themselves!
New Porsche Models Coming:
The Boxster S is finally on the way. They are slated for August – September production and the first cars will be here in late fall. Realistically, I suspect that local dealers won’t want the cars until late January or February, what’s the point of having an inventory of convertibles in January? Little is known as yet. The price is said to be $10,000 more than the normal Boxster. Dunno if
that’s in US or Canadian dollars. For the extra money you get a 6 speed tranny, Sport Chassis on bigger wheels and about 50 more horsepower. Speculation is that the engine is bumped out to 3 liters to account for the extra power. I’m number 6 on the delivery schedule so I’ll keep you informed.
The 996 Twin Turbo will also be coming our way at around the same time. Like the Boxster S, details are still few and far between. We’ve all seen spy photos and the car looks much more muscular than the 996. The rear fenders have air intakes for the turbos and the rear features a bi-plane wing like the GT3. Power is expected to be around 485 HP (wow!) and the price near that of the previous 993 TT (not the grossly overpriced “S” model), say about $160,000.
Speaking of the GT3, it won’t be coming to North America. Sad but true. What is peculiar about the GT3 is the engine. Rather then use an enlarged version of the 996 motor, Porsche used the 3.6 liter 993 engine and converted it to water cooling for 360 HP. Interesting n’est-ce pas? Could this also be the engine of the 996 TT? Water cooling would certainly allow Porsche to turn up the wick on the turbos for a lot more power. The 3.6 engine also has the advantage of a fully pressurized dry sump oil system.
GT3 Wings and things …
If you like the look of the GT3, you can buy something pretty close at your dealer. There is a aero package available on the 996 which duplicates most of the esthetics of the GT3. I’m told it costs about $7,000 though.
While I was admiring the aero version 996 I learned that my favorite colors Polar Silver (that’s silver with a hint of blue) and Speed Yellow are now non-standard. You can still get them but you pay a (take a deep breath) $5,000 premium! As far as I’m concerned this is a blatant rip. Yellow isn’t even a metallic color and “speed yellow” is certainly a “Porsche Color” in my book. I suppose the genius that gave us this nonsense will add Guards Red to the custom color list next.
VW – Audi to threaten Porsche’s Market?
I’ve speculated here before about the weird going’s on in the Porsche family. While Porsche is independent of VW-Audi all the companies are controlled by the same family members. At a recent show in Europe VW showed a “Cup Beetle”. Lowered, Speed Yellow, wide rubber and .. 250 HP. Wow, Herbie for real! Maybe that’s why Porsche charges extra for Speed Yellow, it’s now a VW exclusive color? Will there be a Beetle Cup race series? I betcha there will.
How about the Audi TT? I still think this car is going to duke it out with the Boxster in the showrooms. Early reports indicate similar performance and that’s without the benefit of the “hot” engine coming next spring. It is pretty well known that the 1.8T engine of the Beetle, Passat, A4 and TT is good for way over 200 HP with the most trivial mods, A simple chip change bumps the power by 45 ponies! With a pair of 911 type rear seats for the munchkins, I am betting that a number of Boxster buyers might be swayed towards the Audi. We might have to rethink our Porsches only rule for DEW.
At the same show (for tuners and after-market accessory manufacturers) VW announced that they planned to stuff the Audi 300 HP V8 into the Jetta to go one on one with the BMW M3! Hang on a second here, the M3 sees itself as a 911 competitor. By extension, if you can stuff a V8 into a Jetta then it can probably fit into anything built off the same platform. That would be the Audi A4, VW Golf, Passat, Beetle and of course the Audi TT. At Le Mans, Audi is racing a V8 powered car, this could get very interesting as we see a very aggressive VW challenge to all comers (BMW and Mercedes) also causing collateral damage to Porsche. How about a V8 Super Beetle?
Porsche …never a dull moment!