The Porsche 911 GT1 is surprisingly easy to drive
Porsche fans know that the 911 GT1 is not really a 911. It is a race car specially designed for Le Mans, with the front of a 993 mated to the tub and the rear of the prototype 962 Group C. Therefore, its twin-turbo flat-six is in the middle, in front of the front axle instead of behind, as the 911 wants it to be. Carfection Henry Catchpole found out, the GT1 isn’t as divorced from a regular 911 as you might expect.
Catchpole got lucky driving a 1997 911 GT1 Straßenversion version (street version) and found the driving experience to be quite old-school 911. The front end has the distinctively light, saggy feeling that defined all 911s up to the 991, despite monstrous 295-section front tires. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the front suspension is from a 911, but then again, the feel up front of a 911 is defined by the rear engine layout.
There’s also an inherent feel to the GT1 that should be familiar to any former 911 owner. It’s a car that doesn’t take long to gain confidence, so it’s easy to start pushing. This contrasts with the McLaren F1 Catchpole driven for this GT1 car video series, which is intimidating with its big V-12 and relatively smooth suspension setup. It takes a while to level up, whereas with the GT1 you just need to get on and drive hard. This reflects Porsche’s specialty in building cars that don’t ask too much of the drivers in races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There is also a sense of ruggedness in the car, which is no surprise given Porsche’s endurance racing record. Porsche is well aware of the old adage, “finish first, you have to finish first” and it builds its race cars to withstand abuse.
In many ways, the 911 GT1 is alien, but in many critical aspects it really is a Porsche 911.
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