Ruben Zeltner may have more modern rally cars in his stable, but his white 996 GT3, kindly nicknamed “Zebra,” still makes regular appearances at German hillclimbs and rally events. At this year’s ADAC Rallye Köln-Ahrweiler, an 87-mile-long rally outside of Cologne, the two-time Germany rally champion brought his trusty 996 to cover the fourteen stages. With Hellmar Hellenberg calling course notes, the pair won the event with a time of 1:16.50.4; besting four-wheel drive Audi Quattros and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions in the process. With all the talent on display, it’s not hard to see how.
He grabs the car by the scruff of its neck and uses the pendulum effect to help it rotate through quick switchbacks. Then, with a tug of the hydraulic handbrake, he pitches the car into hairpins (1:34) and fires out of them with minimal oversteer. Zeltner “bends” this frantic and agile 996 around treacherous spots of country road in the measured sort of way which would impress Walter Rohrl.
In the faster sections, Zeltner needs to manage a lot of oversteer, but the stellar traction always keeps it moving forward. Note how it dances nicely over the dirtier stretch of road (1:59) with a little shimmy after the gearchange. Even though the GT3’s rear is not completely planted, that rear grip is a very reassuring thing to have when traveling at these speeds with no runoff anywhere in sight.
Combine that impressive traction with a punchy Mezger’s 400 horsepower, sent through closely stacked gears of a sequential gearbox, and the GT3 accelerates like turbocharged four wheel-drives—albeit with a lot more style and slip angle.