PORSCHE 911 GT3 CLUBSPORT
The Clubsport version of the 911 GT3 features a competition seat and half roll cage but is otherwise identical to Porsche's street racer. At Donington, the car generated 1.14 g's of lateral grip from its 235/40 and 295/30ZR-18 Michelin tires, easily the widest and lowest-profile footwear of the four. With 375 horsepower, the GT3 gets down the straightaways smartly, while traction out of slow corners is pretty impressive, thanks to the rear engine location. The brakes are amazing-although the peak g figure reflects our driving style rather than their effectiveness-as is the engine, which produces usable power from 3000 to 8200 revs and an amazing wail that defeats the sound-deadening properties of a crash helmet.
The GT3 feels far too stiff on public roads and suffers from too much initial understeer, but it's transformed on a racetrack. As with the ERA, cornering attitude is dependent on throttle position, which means lots of sideways action. The steering weights up nicely with g's, and the understeer that's so pesky on the road can be dialed out easily with throttle. The car feels really sorted on smooth pavement, although you need maximum concentration to drive it swiftly on bumpy, curving roads. But then, you are accessing the same level of performance as in a 1959 grand prix car, and you can do it while listening to the stereo. It shows how far street cars have come, but it also makes the point that old cars-especially old racing cars-aren't slow. Not at all.
Thanks to Mac Hulbert and Philip Walker for providing the cars; Andy Wolfe for driving the Brabham so rapidly; Graham Millard and Steve Slyfield for the car preparation; and Donington Park for their helpfulness. The BT11A is for sale-contact Philip Walker via Automobile Magazine.