It’s astonishingly fast, varied, and offers precious little runoff in its quickest sections. Road Atlanta is one of North America’s most challenging road courses, and it’s no wonder that Petit Le Mans is held here. Its long straights and fast corners are perfect for prototypes, and there’s no better tour guide than Gunnar Jeannette to show us the quick way around.
At the top of the hill descending into those famous esses, Jeannette can tickle the inside curb to help get the car as straight as possible for Turn 4 (0:41), but he wisely avoids them after that, since he can’t afford to upset the aero platform going downhill at that rate. Note how much aero grip he’s afforded, particularly through the esses. The Spyder has so much grip that it tracks left beautifully out of Turn 4, where some cars are spat into the center of the road, and so he can straighten the line through the final downhill bend while deploying all 503 horsepower from the 3.4-liter V8 without a hiccup.
Finding Speed at Road Atlanta
The braking of the RS Spyder is, as you’d expect, phenomenal, and so is its stability under steady-state throttle. Gunnar can gently crack the rightmost pedal open prior to the apex and have the engine screaming well before the track-out point, which brings us to an intelligent approach to finding speed at Road Atlanta. Part of the seemingly-effortless speed here comes from not asking too much of the front tires upon turn-in. This approach allows the Porsche to accelerate neatly without oversteer. So much of a quick lap here depends on clean exits onto the straighter sections.
Like Turn 5, Turn 7 leads onto the back straight and is both an easy and difficult corner. So much time is gained or lost there, so it’s wise to focus on the exit and take a late apex; sacrificing a little entry speed but straightening the car faster. Though it’s only going to reap 1 MPH on exit, that gain is exploited over 2,700 feet of track! Perhaps, with the acceleration this RS Spyder is capable of, it might be more like 2 MPH.