Chris Harris has just released his latest video, driving the Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT car through the scenic forests of the Walter’s Arena rally test centre in Wales. Filmed by Neil Carey and Mauro Calo, it is a really beautiful piece of work.
As Richard Tuthill will tell you, the Porsche 997 R-GT was born to run on gravel. “The balance is a revelation and it flies beautifully,” said Richard after our first gravel test in 2014. “It is so easy to drive: wonderfully fast everywhere.”
Running flat out on the straights, the R-GT ate up the course and never stopped wanting more. Despite our engineering a gravel solution in line with WRC thinking months ahead of a planned gravel debut on Rally GB, the FIA would not approve our gravel specification and the car was not allowed to compete in our home event, to the extreme disappointment of rally fans.
Filmed towards the end of 2014, the latest video in the Chris Harris on Cars series shows what Rally GB fans were denied last year. The R-GT glides through the test stage: an FIA-mandated engine air restrictor having little effect on the car’s speed through corners. It is always poised, and always perfect.
“It’s so exciting, and so fast,” says Chris. “I don’t think I’ve driven a more exciting car this year (2014): hypercars included. I just feel so alive in this thing. When you think you’re 100 horsepower down on paper, you don’t miss it when you’re actually out on the stage, because there’s plenty of power here.
“It feels so strange to be driving a car I am so familiar with on a racetrack, on gravel! This is the coolest car I’ve driven all year…it’s what driving is all about. I don’t even want to look at the speedo: “plenty fast enough” is the answer.”
Back in the workshop, we’re getting ready for departure tomorrow as the 997 R-GT heads for a pre-Monte Carlo test with the great François Delecour, who is driving the Tuthill R-GT Porsche for all five events of this year’s FIA R-GT Cup. As I type, the talented vinyl artists from Mercedes F1 are wrapping the car in its new livery: all very exciting! More news tomorrow.