Each year we take a group of Club Mulholland members on a Grantour of Europe. In the past we've done Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, etc. But for 2017 we wanted a little warmth on our skin and to include one of the very best race circuits in the world – Portimao's Aútodromo Internacional Algarve. And what a track that is.
We had a private booking of the track for our cars it was open until 10pm. 10pm! That meant we were there to see the stunning sunset and continue in to the dark. And when I say dark, I mean pitch black! There were no lights on the track - anywhere. Apart from our pit garages.
We all have renewed respect for Le Mans racers now, because driving a car anywhere near ten-tenths is absolutely terrifying when there are no lights to illuminate the corners. We were nowhere near ten-tenths and it was very easy to miss the apex by a country mile. When you had someone in front to 'follow' it was much easier, but out there in the dark on your own was scary.
The track at Portimao has the most incredible elevation changes – something you cannot appreciate until you drive it. No video shows just how big the hills are and how blind many of the crests are! But what a track. Absolutely stunning.
The 991.1 GT3 was exceptional around there - the balance through the corners good, and the traction out, superb. On the pit straight it was reaching over 155mph whereas the GT4 was only able to hit 145mph ish. The 996.1 GT3 was fabulous to see. This car is raging really well to my eyes - it's the last hand built road car from Weissach and is still quick. The driver, Andre, has an incredible Porsche Collection that includes not one but two 993 GT's and a Le Mans 911ST. He's also been racing for 25 years and he certainly knew how to hustle this car around.
The Porsche 996.1 GT3 was Zanzibar Red in colour. A colour that looks great today and was, I believe, the launch colour for the car? I have personally owned a 996.2 GT3 and would actually like another again - I prefer the look and drive of the second generation GT3, but think that it's the Gen 1 car that will be worth the bigger money in years to come. Especially if you can find a Clubsport version.
Neil has some nice P cars too, including a Sport Classic, but for this trip he took his manual Carrera GTS. I'd say it was a great car for the tour but around the track it wasn't as poised as the GT4 which shares the same engine though has a few less horsepower. Neil is also getting a new GT2 RS so I certainly won't be challenging him on track in that!
This is just a short feature as I thought you'd like to see the Porsche images we took on the day? We also had some rather quick non-Porsche cars with us - and the McLaren 570 GT impressed the most. What a fast car that is. The owner of that car has some fabulous Porsches too, but for modern cars he seems to have been seduced by McLaren. And after a passenger lap I can almost see why! Almost. I'd still rather have the GT3 any day though! Enjoy the pics.