In Porsche terms ‘GT2’ represents the hardest of the hardcore. If the GT3 models are for the raceheads (wannabe or actual) these are the Porsche 911s for the out and out power junkies. The 993 GT2 you see here is where it all started.
This is an interesting time to revisit the GT2, too. Built to homologate turbocharged 911s for racing in the mid-‘90s, two class wins at Le Mans and widespread success in the hands of privateer race teams in Europe, America and beyond underline the GT2’s race pedigree. To the untrained eye the road version might look like a Porsche with a bad aftermarket bodykit but this provenance – and the rarity – makes them among the most valuable 911s around, as demonstrated by the £1.8m one made at auction a few years back. Appropriately, Porsche is leading the category’s modern revival with a 700PS 911 GT2 RS Clubsport aimed squarely at ‘gentleman drivers’ and yours for 405,000 euros, plus VAT.
This is its inspiration. Badged simply ‘Porsche GT’, this is a factory restored 993 GT2 R, as the customer race versions were known. The road cars got an interior but kept the wild looks and a 430PS engine based on that in the regular 993 Turbo, albeit rear- rather than four-wheel-drive. The R was but one step removed with 450PS, revised gearing for the regular H-pattern manual, race-spec suspension, the cage, harness and seat required to go racing and a massive wing bolted on crude extensions to the existing road car mounting points.
Chuntering angrily in the Goodwood paddock the GT2 R clatters like a bag of spanners, as the fruitiest 911s tend to. I’ve got as long as it takes to strap myself into a six-point harness to get familiar before being waved out on track, the combination of a racing flywheel and high biting point on the clutch meaning a very, very fine line between the ignominy of kangarooing down the pitlane and – worse – stalling it on the line.
Beyond that there’s not much to distract. I’ve got a dished Momo wheel, three pedals in the footwell and a spindly looking, floor-mounted shifter to my right. In front of me the familiar 993 instrument binnacle has, in the classic Porsche style, the rev counter to its centre and even the standard analogue clock where you might expect a boost gauge. Not that you need one. With no sound proofing, and little more than a thin metal bulkhead between you and the mechanical mayhem behind, you are left in no doubt when the turbos join the party.
The shriek of the gearbox and diff are deafening even with a helmet on but, even with that, the whine of the compressors and rush of air through the induction system is clearly audible and punctuated only briefly by the gearshifts demanded by the relentless acceleration. I’m already up to fourth in the short run up to Madgwick, the classic front-end lightness found in older 911s and surprisingly light power-assisted steering meaning the turn-in is something of a leap of faith.
Wary of the boost I hold a trailing throttle until the second apex comes into view, the GT2 squatting onto its fat rear tyres as it erupts up the short straight to Fordwater. There’s very little lag, the short gearing keeping you high in the revs and sweeping you along on the monstrous wave of boost, the steering wheel as much something to hold onto as a means of dictating which way the car is pointing. I grab a quick upshift to fifth, prompting a loud chuff from the dump valves, licks of flame from the exhausts (it later turns out) and yet another headlong rush of acceleration towards St Mary’s. This is brilliant.
A couple of laps in I’m really starting to enjoy myself. Yes, the GT2 looks outrageous and has performance to match. But it’s also surprisingly accommodating, and like any old-school 911 to drive. Just much, much faster.
This is the spirit Porsche is hoping to channel with the GT2 RS Clubsport. Pro racers are comfortable in aero-heavy GT3 and LM GTE cars but this can be more of a stretch for the gentleman drivers they’re often paired with. With more emphasis on horsepower than downforce GT2 cars should, in theory, be easier for privateers coming from roadgoing supercars to enjoy, especially on power circuits like Spa where Porsche has already held a demonstration race. Audi has revealed its own wild-looking contender in the shape of the R8 LMS GT2 that Tom Kristensen drove in the SpeedWeek Shootout presented by Mastercard and you can bet your life Mercedes will be keen to develop its own inspired by the recently launched AMG GT Black Series.
If all this points to a revival of GT2 as the series of choice for horsepower heroes it’s fitting this particular car remains the one that set the tone a quarter of a century ago. Big boost, big wings and big thrills are, after all, a recipe with enduring appeal.
Which would you want to drive for one hotlap of Goodwood? The 450PS GT2 R or the 700PS GT2 RS Clubsport?