The Ultimate Test at The Green Hell
In a previous SCD article we detailed the extensive development and testing programme of our Suspension Secrets Porsche Circuit Handling Pack. After being signed off, our kits have since been in service on numerous 911 GT3s, GT3 RSs and Cayman GT4s across the UK and the rest of the world.
Written by: Matthew Cowley
Encouraged by this success, we again enlisted the help of RMA Track Days MD, Leyton Clarke in an attempt to push the kit to its absolute limits and to see what it can really achieve. Previously, Leyton’s remarkable speed and consistency as a driver, alongside his technical feedback, was invaluable in the development of our Porsche Circuit Handling Pack, but this time our objective was pure speed.
With Leyton at the helm of his Suspension Secrets Porsche Circuit Handling Pack equipped Porsche 911 GT3 RS Weissach, we visited some of the UK’s toughest circuits and set the car against the stopwatch. Over the course of the last six months, Leyton claimed what were at the time three outright road car lap records at Donington Park GP, Brands Hatch Indy, and Oulton Park International.
During a visit to Castle Combe, Leyton received a rather unexpected endorsement of the Porsche Circuit Handling Pack’s capabilities. In the middle of a session he was black-flagged, and after enquiring with the marshals as to the nature of the black-flagging, he was told he was, “simply going too fast”.
Having tackled some of the UK’s best circuits with success, we looked for the next challenger to overcome and the answer was obvious — the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Dubbed ‘The Green Hell’ by Jackie Stewart, the Nürburgring is widely considered to be the most technically challenging race track on the planet, and is the ultimate test for both cars and drivers.
After some last-minute arrangemenets, the date was set and we made the trip to the Eifel Mountains to tackle the fabled 12.9 miles of undulating and extraordinarily bumpy tarmac that makes up the Nordschleife.
Recently, the Nürburgring has become a battleground, with car manufacturers one- upping each other in an attempt to claim the overall road car lap record. Whilst the purpose of our trip was not to try and set a scorching lap time, we couldn’t help but strap some timing gear to Leyton’s GT3 RS for our own curiosity.
When in Rome…
In fact, the main objective of our visit to the Nürburgring was to gather data on our Circuit Handling Pack and how it performed on the ultimate test track.
One of the key upgrades of our Porsche Circuit Handling Pack is to install a shorter and stiffer front spring. This gives the chassis some all-important rake angle which improves turn-in, reduces nose- diving on the brakes and makes trail braking far more intuitive. This lower front spring is combined with a re-engineered damper cup that allows the front dampers to retain their standard range of operation in combination with the lower front spring.
Leyton’s car runs a lower front spring than usual which drops the front axle quite considerably, and to a point where some have commented that perhaps it is too low for the Nürburgring. Some of the older hands at the Nürburgring even declared running such a low front ride height as ‘impossible’. The consensus for the Nürburgring is to run a slightly higher nose in order to prevent any front splitters from being damaged over the bumpier sections.
In order to test our kit to the fullest, we chose to keep the setup that was applied to Leyton’s Porsche when he set the UK lap records. This meant running a very short front spring and having faith in our redesigned spring cup.
When we discovered that the front splitter, that was sat mere inches from the ground, had barely even brushed the tarmac over the course of an entire day, that was an amazing vindication of our design and our determination to achieve what was considered an impossibility.
We then began our testing regimen and were thrilled when Leyton reported back to us that
the stability of the car, even over the toughest bumps and jumps, was infallible. This additional stability, combined with the ability — thanks to the Circuit Handling Pack — to carry far more speed into the corners, allowed Leyton to quickly settle into a fast and consistent pace, despite often heavy traffic.
Our Circuit Handling Pack is designed to be supple enough for the road whilst also greatly improving track performance. In setup terms, the Nürburgring is considered to be more of a ‘fast road’ than a pure track setup thanks to the elevation changes, varying tarmac quality and uneven surfacing. Our choice to maintain this suppleness compared to a traditional very stiff setup that emphasises wrought iron body control, allowed Leyton to tackle even the most treacherous sections of the Nordschleife without experiencing any unwanted suspension deflections.
After two days of intensive testing we were satisfied that we had pushed our Suspension Secrets Porsche Circuit Handling Pack to the limit at the toughest track of them all.
Leyton managed to record a Bridge to Gantry time of 6:52 on a tourist lap, with traffic and in 30+ degrees weather, which was very encouraging and stands as a testament to our Suspension Secrets Porsche Circuit Handling Pack.
We always try to push what is possible with these cars and after two hard days at the Nürburgring we thought there was no better way of celebrating than heading to Europe’s second most famous race track, Circuit de Spa- Francorchamps, where Leyton again put the kit to the limit. Again, our kit’s improvements to the caster and camber settings of the GT3 RS allowed Leyton to really lean on the chassis during the higher speed corners, such as the fast left hander at Blanchimont.
The pinnacle of our visit to Spa was the scarcely believable pace at which Leyton was able to attack the Eau Rouge/Radillion complex at the top of fifth gear only to lift for a slight moment, downshift, and then bury the throttle on the way up the hill.
Pretty impressive for just a road car!