It was doomsday weather in Stuttgart. The temperature gauge read minus two degrees Celsius (28 degrees Fahrenheit) as the swollen skies emitted a mix of rain, sleet, and snow. Could it be that the whole adventure was in jeopardy? The day before, Frank Walliser, the Porsche 918 Spyder's high-strung project leader, had called an emergency meeting. There was no way that this triple-hearted roadster could be unleashed in such adverse conditions on uncompromising, low-profile summer tires. Officially, Porsche does not yet offer winter rubber for the 918. Unofficially, however, a friend of a friend of Walliser's who works in the prototype shop produced a set of black wheels shod with brand-new Pirelli Sottozero winter tires. That promptly led to another minor complication, namely the need to find space for four wheels with summer tires, not to mention the noncollapsible, four-foot-long torque wrench required to mount them.
We arrived at el circuito Ricardo Tormo on the western outskirts of Valencia in time for a quick trackside lunch. Were we ready to put this Porsche to the real test? Sort of, except that the guy in the leading 918 kept pulling away while messieurs Kacher and Ruger were still debating brake points, turn-in points, and gearchange points. Sadly, all it takes to put your driving skills into perspective is one fast lap with Walter Rohrl, who ran the entire track in D and still got to the finish line light years before the distant number two. Lesser mortals clearly need more time to practice, and eventually we did learn to late-apex most corners, to step on the gas early, to anticipate the dialogue between rear-wheel-drive dominance and front-wheel-drive support, to brake