With his wife Petra co-driving, Ruben Zeltner shows how to take a 997 Cup Car by the scruff of its neck and bend it around corners strewn with dirt. The German rally ace uses forceful approach—flicking the car on entry and dabbing the handbrake—to avoid understeer and “bend” the car into the tighter hairpins.
This punchy style keeps his modified Cup Car dancing on its tippy-toes through the slower sections of the Hessen Rally. As he leaves the town and drives off into the countryside, the corners strewn with dirt don’t hamper his progress. He continues to take the shortest route through the corner, often dropping a wheel on the dirty shoulder, and manages the car post-apex if it happens to step out of line, which it often does.
Forty years of rally experience clearly shows as he flies through the variety of paved and loose surfaces while adjusting his speed accordingly. Perhaps this is best seen at 3:12; after driving neatly and accurately through a fast series of paved esses, he virtually stops the car to take a 90-degree right onto a dirt-laden section, where his steering inputs become more dramatic to keep the car teetering on the edge and, thus, more likely to pivot into the corner as desired. Of course, a tug of the prominent hydraulic handbrake facilitates the rotation.
That addition, along with what must be a system adjusting the suspension or differential, are some of the changes needed to make a GT3 Cup Car competitive on a loose surface. Note how Petra flicks a switch at 4:57 and 5:10 when entering and exiting a particularly slippery section of the course. What this adjusts isn’t certain, but it shows how the car does have some technical assets to help it compete with tech-heavy 4WD machines.
Watching the stellar car control, frightening commitment in the faster corners, and adaptability over changing surfaces, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the Zeltners won the German Rally Championship in 2014 and 2015. It just goes to show that a well-driven 911 still has the grunt and agility needed to excel on slipperiest of surfaces.