Richard’s latest column for GT Porsche magazine examines the Tuthill Porsche circuit racing programme – how it started and where we are now:
I’ve managed to sneak out of the office to take a little summer break in Wales and on a fine day I can see the Trac Mon circuit in Anglesey from where we are. It’s a track I have not yet driven, but I’m fairly confident that this won’t be the case for much longer.
I arrived here a little later than my family due to attending the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix weekend with our most adventurous clients, Team Tidö Race 4 Health. Copenhagen is pretty unique, beautifully hosted with an almost festival feel. It was the latest stop in a racing season that has seen us test and race with clients at Silverstone, Barcelona, Donington, Goodwood, Monza and the aforementioned temporary street circuit around the Danish capital.
We are not as well known for our racing as we are for other areas of our business but actually, we have always been racing and with some success. Now though, it’s becoming a bigger part of our lives, and it’s wonderful!
Porsche is synonymous with racing success. Rallying was a little more back door and, more often than not, driven by the passion of private teams. So given that we have been pursuing rally success, some may see racing as an easier discipline. In many respects it is less challenging, but in other areas it is more so.
On the logistical side, we are of course based at a circuit for a race weekend vs charging around the countryside. This leads to other, less obvious, challenges.
A simple example is that, if we have a technical problem on a rally, I can usually find a moment to drive the car up the road and analyse the situation. However, when stuck in a paddock and not able drive the car on the open road, these issues have to be resolved using different methods. We therefore rely heavily on feedback and analysis from those driving and the pressure is on in a different way. Once the car hits the track again, it is usually against the clock and so no second chances are on offer.
We have built plenty of race cars in the last five years: 1965 2.0-litre cars, 2.8 RSRs, 3.0-litre RS and most recently a 934. At Goodwood last month, I tested a ‘65 car running on Dunlop L section tyres, and the 934 (3.0-litre single turbo) on 14-inch wide slicks. Quite a contrast.
I’m new to driving on circuits and quite frankly I find it quite a challenge and all a bit scary. Given my ability in a Welsh forest (check our Youtube channel for in-car video), people laugh when I say this, as the idea that someone who drives a car on the limit a metre away from a bunch of well established trees that won’t even blink if you hit them, seems odd.
There’s a lot of room on a racetrack. Considering I’m someone who doesn’t like choice then it’s all a bit too open! That said, I can turn out a reasonable lap time and the more I drive on track, the more I’m falling for it.
The ’65 cars are in a constant state of movement and it’s the ability to find the balance between too straight and too sideways. The engine, as I’ve discussed before, is glorious and I don’t ever see a 2.0-litre car as a threat. The 934 however couldn’t be more different and is now right up there in my all-time best driving experiences.
We haven’t tried to extract the most from the engine yet, though we are about to start. In Goodwood trim, the car had 430 bhp and with the huge mechanical grip on offer it was stunning to drive. Almost no body roll, the stealth-like nature of the engine noise and then the feeling that is like no other, when the turbo does its thing.
We are next out at Spa for the 6-Hour historic weekend, followed by the Hungaroring and two more European outings, as well as a few GTSCC rounds. It’s great. Our cars are on the pace and we are building on previous successes, such as back- to-back Masters championship wins with Mark Bates, and his great successes at Spa and the Nürburgring.
So, it’s official: we are racing and doing more and more. With the great reliability and driveability of our rally cars thrown into the mix, we hope to continue our winning ways.