Hell when it rains: Experience the mystery of the Nordschleife with the 911 GTS

Not only those who drive a sports car want to drive the Nordschleife if they have gasoline in their veins. This fabulous running track in the Eifel, considered one of the toughest in the world. But beware, the appearance of the route can change depending on the weather. And this can push the driver to the limit, even in a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS.

The Nordschleife is a magical place for any motorsport fan. Almost mystical, one might say, because not only do the records set here mean accolades for vehicle manufacturers, but it’s also the nickname “Green Hell” that makes these just over 20 kilometers so legendary. The 73 bends and their climbs of up to 18 percent, as well as sections with a gradient of up to 11 percent, can be tackled easily in good weather and with the right car.

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One who knows the Nordschleife like the back of his hand: Timo Kluck (right).

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

Good. A Porsche 911 Carrera GTS is joined by a Nordschleife calibrated instructor during a track training session, rushing forward at full speed, but always with a keen eye in the rearview mirror and dictating the line. Runs, one can only say. The third edition of the 911 GTS whizzes over the course so powerfully, with such driving dynamics and so independent that the driver actually looks like just a decorative accessory to the car.

The turbocharged six-cylinder boxer engine delivers 480 hp and drives the rear wheels with a maximum torque of 570 Newton meters. Power is distributed by the unique eight-speed dual clutch transmission (PDK). The electronics ensure the double end disengagement, so that the speed is always the one needed to accelerate in a flash out of the corners, in which you have already given a blow.

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In dry weather, the driver of the 911 GTS, supported by the vehicle itself, is in control.

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

The steering wheel feels so good in the hands, it gives the driver the feeling of being the master of the car, letting it bounce almost playfully. Yes, there is also time to play with the driving modes. Switch from Sport to Sport Plus to let ESP take a back seat. Enjoying the feeling when the rear comes out of corners when you accelerate a little too soon, then presumably take it back skillfully. Not realizing that electronics are also sensitively involved here.

The good mood of safety that the 911 GTS exudes is so great that the Sport Response button is pressed over and over to bring the response of the engine and transmission to peak performance for 20 seconds. In just 3.3 seconds, the racing car can accelerate from zero to 100 km / h and if the topography and, above all, the capabilities allow, a top speed of 309 km / h would probably also be possible on the Nordschleife.

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When the Nordschleife changes face in the rain, the driver is more in demand than technology.

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

It’s working, no – it’s working. Thanks to Suspension Management or PASM for short, the shock absorbers react to dynamic changes at the speed of light and it turns out that on the rather uneven course of the Eifel it is better to choose the normal position and not the hardness of the track, the Sport or the Sport Plus provide . And if there is a slight misalignment, torque vectoring intervenes with targeted braking interventions on the rear wheels.

But be careful if the track changes its face, if it turns from a fun course into the “Green Hell”. It happens exactly when it starts to rain, to pour down. When the spray from the man in front blocks your view. If the new asphalt in deep black doesn’t show where aquaplaning is hiding, the racing car floats and spins out of nowhere and on the straight like a top. Porsche electronics knew this in advance. As a warning, it asks to use the wet mode, the rain mode, in order to be able to absorb the torque from the rear axle, which now looks really gigantic.

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The 911 GTS’s peak torque of 500 Newton meters is brutal on the Nordschleife in the wet.

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

But please, that’s a 911, that’s the Nordschleife. There is no slow here. Whoever brakes is afraid and whoever is afraid loses! The ideal line now becomes the rain line, which simply means that it is crossed. Obviously the pace is slowing down. Lap times no longer have to be measured here. The focus is on the car only. What was so easy in the dry, because the electronics took over the gearbox, traction was maintained by torque vectoring, the car magically straightened after wagging its tail, is now suddenly hard. It becomes a big part of the pilot’s job.

He has to use the shift paddles to decide which gear to use to exit the corner. And it is advisable to take the next higher. Electronics don’t care. It is calibrated for lap times, for maximum performance and power. But if the car breaks down here, even the best torque vectoring is worth nothing. When you reach the wet lawn and the tires lose grip, only the physics have an effect. In fact, it’s Newton’s first law, force equals mass times acceleration, this is putting the pilot in serious trouble here.

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The Nordschleife gets really treacherous when the asphalt dries but the edges are wet. The ideal line can quickly become a trap.

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

Little things can cause it. For example, minimal driving on a wet shoulder, where the right drive wheel loses all grip, while the left drive wheel bites so hard on a dry piece of land that the car takes a millisecond to take a direction that is out from the circuit and the proud driver of the 911 GTS and the vehicle become a toy of forces. Or to put it another way: “A body remains in a state of rest or uniform linear motion unless forced to change its state by acting forces.”

The bad thing about such a situation is that you can’t really blame a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS. The car is beyond doubt. In the end, in this case he can do more than the pilot, but he must be alert and focused. Because the smallest mistake can decide whether to cross the finish line or be eliminated. In this sense, anyone who can start the journey home safe and sound with their treasure, which costs at least 140,000 euros, after a workout in the rain on the Nordschleife can consider themselves lucky. Not only did he demonstrate that he drives intelligently, but he also understood the language between the track, the driver and the car in extreme situations.

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Nordschleife itself is less about consuming and more about improving your skills.

(Photo: Rossen Gargolov)

On the way home he also has the opportunity to think about whether it is contemporary to burn 23 liters on 100 kilometers of track. However, he can look in surprise at the electronic fuel consumption display, which shows him an average consumption of 6.8 liters on land at an almost constant speed of 80 km / h. Nearly seven liters for a three-liter six-cylinder? Not even half of the big three can do it in small cars.

At the end of a journey of more than 1200 kilometers, full of fast-driving motorway sections, the internal computer reached almost 11 liters. Which means nothing more than the 643 kilometers from the Nürburgring to the house could be covered with the large tank and a fill. It is much easier to overcome excess consumption in green hell.

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