Warming up for the hottest one-make series in town

Ahead of the season debut of the new 911 GT3 Cup, the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland teams head to the Nürburgring to get to know their new steed

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As fog drifts over the Nürburgring, a shaft of sunlight breaks through and bathes the legendary race track in a mystical light. At first there appears to be nothing unusual about this fresh Tuesday morning – but then the Carrera Cup Deutschland team trucks start to roll into the paddock and within minutes the atmosphere is buzzing. The garages are set up and the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars are unloaded with routine serenity. The teams have only just taken possession of their cars, most of which are still without liveries, and are at the revered German race track to get to know the new racing machines inside out during 48 hours of workshops and test sessions.

Amid the bustle of the Nebulus Racing by Huber team setting up its garage, boss Christoph Huber has a few minutes to chat. For the Bavarian racing manager, whose squad has been competing in the one-make cup since 2016, the new 911 GT3 Cup car marks the beginning of a new era for the series. “We use the rollout event to get to know all the intricacies of the new car in detail,” he explains. “Of course, these days also serve to sharpen the team up again after a long winter break.” For them, the 2021 season presents a special challenge – they’ll be defending their title from the previous year.

While the first briefing for the nine team bosses and their chief mechanics takes place in the Nürburgring media centre, the cars are in the pits being prepared for testing the next day. In front of the HRT-Motorsport garage, two racing mechanics look up at the grey sky with a little concern: will the famously tricky Eifel weather offer anything better than the fog, sleet and wind that it’s throwing at the teams today? At the ‘Green Hell’, you have to take it as it comes – a relaxed credo that also describes the friendly interaction between the teams. In the paddock, the hustle and bustle continues late into the night, until the lights in the final garage go out.

The following morning tells the two mechanics that they needn’t have worried: the sun shines over the start-finish straight as the phalanx of new 911 GT3 Cup cars are positioned neatly on the track for a group picture with the all-electric safety car – a Porsche Taycan Turbo S which proved in 2020 that it can keep up on full electric power when it needs to. Bystanders pull out their phones and capture the important moment with a photo. Even Porsche racing legend Olaf Manthey is visibly impressed by the sight of the brand-new racers. As early as 1990, in the first season of the championship, he secured overall victory in a 964-generation 911. To this day, he considers the Carrera Cup one of the most demanding racing series there is – as well as being an important motorsport ‘school’. “Compared to racing cars with front engines and rear-wheel drive, a 911 requires its driver to have a completely different driving style in order to be fast,” he explains. “This contributes to the development of the drivers and their skills.”

The weather is stable and the first testing begins at 10:00. It’s the moment that all the teams have been working towards for the past few hours. The first 911 GT3 Cup cars turn their laps with a brutal sound. Meanwhile, the mood in the pits is changing. Every move is still routine, but the euphoria of everyone watching as the new cars finally take to the track, is visible to all. The meticulous preparation that has gone into this day will also apply to the season ahead. The teams use the months when they’re not racing to prepare, and the Carrera Cup Deutschland offers various workshops on many different topics.

It’s no different in the pit of Team CarTech Motorsport by Nigrin. Boss David Prusa casually watches his drivers’ first laps wearing pinstripe pants and a team sweatshirt. A Bavarian like Huber, he reveals in a quiet moment that he regards Carrera Cup Deutschland as the best ‘talent factory’ of all – not only for the drivers, but also for the teams. Indeed, a look around the pits not only shows plenty of young talent in the cockpits, but also young people working around the cars. There’s no need to worry about the future of racing here.

As the test day draws to a close, the racing cars are reloaded and the team trucks hit the road almost as quickly as they set up 48 hours earlier. The farewells will soon be hellos, however: the nine teams will meet again on 29 April at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. There the new 911 GT3 Cup will celebrate its official racing premiere at the first round of the Carrera Cup Deutschland season, in support of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The CEO of Porsche Deutschland GmbH, Alexander Pollich, is looking forward to the new car’s debut much as anyone: “You can tell how excited the teams are for the start of the season; they can hardly wait to finally field the new 911 GT3 Cup under racing conditions,” he says. “This rollout event is extremely important so that the teams can get the answers to all their questions about the new racing car with our specialists on site.”

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