With his usual Ford Escort steeds in the shop for repairs, Portuguese hillclimber José Silvinho Pires had to resort to using something else for his latest trip to the Rampa da Falperra hillclimb. His replacement, a 997 GT3 R, offered him more than enough performance to temporarily forget his old Fords. With a striking livery reminiscent of the old John Player-sponsored Lotuses, it looked as good as it sounded. Most importantly, it was approachable enough for him to put in a series of storming laps after minimal warmup time.
It should be mentioned that Pires has competed in Porsches before. At the same hillclimb in years past, he made appearances in a 996 RSR with one of the most raucous engine notes around. Those frantic laps prepared him well for the lighter, fitter, younger sibling, which also enjoys a considerable bump in power.
Despite having nearly 500 horsepower from its 4.0-liter motor, the GT3 R never looked unwieldy in his hands. Granted, he was driving somewhat conservatively, but having only ten laps to prepare on a course as demanding as this, that’s sensible. Through the faster sections, he’s able to flirt with the guardrails and carry some impressive entry speeds, but it never looks like he’s completely at one with the Porsche.
However, he’s still getting the GT3 R up on its tiptoes; sliding the rear slightly on braking, and getting back to power very early. Nevertheless, the GT3 R puts all of its power to the ground without fuss, whether it’s crossing over cambers or on a completely flat part of the course. It’s an incredibly capable, confidence-inspiring car that brings the best out of anyone in the seat, provided they have enough sense to treat it with some respect. Those guardrails do seem to jump out of nowhere, after all.