Ming's recent visit to Portimao gave rise to an adventure and a great write-up:

I have struggled with my track confidence in the last year or two, after a few sub optimal skill moments and the fear to be honest of an uninsured off ending my car owning days, because if I were to total the 458, it would be gone and could not be replaced. Also, I genuinely have no natural skill so I have to work hard at it and you lose it if you don’t use it...

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Comments (3)

  • Doing one or two sporadic track days and forgetting what you have learned is a way to disaster if you assume you are as good as you were the last day, 18 months ago.

    I have managed to edge up to a 458 over many years of overspending on cars and maintenance of “equity”, as it were, so the M5 was a disaster because I lost €37k in 18 months but the F430 Spider was wonderful because I owned it for nearly five glorious years and sold it for more than I paid for it. I am not like the rich guys I keep meeting who just have tons of cars and ski lodges and boats and when asked, are you getting a Pista(ke), the answer is “of course”.

    I explain all this because it gives backdrop to my recent gloriously expensive trip to Portimao to drive a rental 991 GT3 for three days. I wanted to regain my mojo as it were. I could have shipped my 458 there and I could have driven it for the ultimate buzz, but I have already ruined the outrageously expensive carbon ceramic brakes and it has been off the road because of a gearbox problem (thankfully under purchased at some expense, additional warranty – a long separate thread will follow at some stage). So I didn’t want to go to the trouble and cost of shipping, I wasn’t going to pound down a couple of thousand miles of motorway but I did want to go to Portimao. Which of course, is in Portugal, not a short hop.

    Like many, I guess, I was captivated by the wonderful Chris Harris video in I think 2014 where he brought lots of great metal to Portimao, like the 918 and the McLaren P1 and other greats like the F12 – having driven one in Fiorano, the F12 would be just perfect for Portimao, and it’s clear that Chris H loved it there.

    After I had been there, I watched a definitive guide to Portimao sent to me by FDub and it only made sense to me because I had actually walked some of the track and also driven it under tuition already. When you walk this track, there are some parts of it that seem daunting to even walk. Without this, the video would have made me think it was actually easy. I think the only other track I can think of with such elevation changes (apart from the Nurburgring, over 19 klms) is Laguna Seca, - the famous double corkscrew turn there is probably more challenging but when you walk over the turn they call Portimao you think, Jesus how do you drive this? You have to turn in and aim at a hut whose roof you can see in the knowledge that there is a hyooge compression dip just coming, off camber to your left. It’s a bit like Church in Anglesea on steroids. It is exhilarating. As is figuring out that you can not brake so much at the end of the main straight (which has this enormous pothole at the end that you have to drive into) and just slide through the next two turns while flet on the power. I did this once only and I felt like a king. That is what it is like to be a proper driver I’m sure, I kind of got a flavour for one moment only and honestly, it was worth going there for that moment only.

    Compression is everywhere and the chassis loads are such that you need a car with stability and damping. I chickened out at 245/50 kph on the main straight, but the GT3 (oh yes, I need to write a little about this) was just rock solid beyond belief, unburstable. More on that in a minute.

    One of the difficult things about this circuit, after you have a basic knowledge of where the lines and braking points are, is stringing it all together in between rocketing 488 Challenge racers and 675LTs and hordes of people who do this all the time and know what they are doing. So you have to think about the lines, the mirrors, the braking point, the turn in, the mirrors, the apex, the mirrors, the gear you are in, the mirrors, trail braking, the power on point, the mirrors and placing yourself so as to not be disadvantaged for getting the most out of the next turn, while avoiding massively faster stuff just barreling through.

      3 years ago
    • There is only one rule on overtaking, watch your mirrors, do what you were doing so you are predictable, and it’s the overtaker’s fault if something goes wrong (overtaking both sides is fine) but when you have a €500k 488 Challenge and a €350k...

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        3 years ago
    • If you could get a 458 GT3 it would be the most awesomest compromise between a road and a track car ever. I believe the next GT3 will be a turbo. I fear that it will 488’ise the GT3 like the 488 488’ed the 458. So the 991 GT3 may be one of the last best...

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        3 years ago