Porsche fans know that the 911 GT1 isn’t really a 911. It’s a purpose-built Le Mans race car, with the front end of a 993 mated to the tub and rear end of the all-conquering 962 Group C prototype. Consequently, its twin-turbo flat-six is in the middle, ahead of the front axle instead of behind it as is 911 tradition. But, as Carfection’s Henry Catchpole found out, the GT1 isn’t as divorced from a regular 911 as you might expect.
Catchpole had the chance behind the wheel of a 1997 911 GT1 Straßenversion (street version) and discovered that the driving experience is quite old-school 911. The front end has the characteristically light and darty feeling that defined all 911s up to the 991, despite sporting monster 295-section front tires. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising, given that the front suspension is from a 911, but then again, the front-end feel of a 911 is defined by the rear-engine layout.
There’s also an inherent friendliness to the GT1 that should be familiar to any old 911 owner. It’s a car that doesn’t take a long time to gain confidence in, so it’s easy to start pushing. This contrasts with the McLaren F1 Catchpole drove for this video series on GT1 cars, which intimidates with its big V-12 and relatively soft suspension setup. It takes a while to get up to speed, whereas with the GT1, you just get in and drive hard. It’s reflective of Porsche’s specialty in building cars that don’t ask too much of drivers at races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There’s a feeling of robustness to the car, too, which isn’t a surprise given Porsche’s endurance-racing record. Porsche is very aware of that old adage, “to finish first, first you must finish,” and it builds its race cars to stand up to abuse. For the full story, check out this article from Road & Track.