Often, automotive battles in the style of David and Goliath tend to stage tired duels between overweight muscle cars and anemic featherweights with predictable results. However, what happens when two talented drivers take similarly focused machines—albeit with their own advantages and disadvantages—to the track?
In this instance, a heavier GT3 RS and a one-off Caterham spar at the demanding, high-speed Dijon. While the GT3 has 500 horsepower to push some 3,120 pounds around, the 1,300-pound Caterham’s staggering power-to-weight ratio means it easily outruns the RS with just 310 horsepower. Advantage to the shed-built roadster.
There are a few other significant differences between the two. The Porsche benefits from considerable downforce—365 pounds of downforce at 93 mph and 770 pounds at 180 mph—the wingless Caterham does not get gripper as speeds increase. However, its poise and precision at low speed are greatly enhanced by a set of slicks, whereas the Porsche wears barely treaded Trofeo R tires. As shown by the footage below, the diminutive Caterham is dartier in the slower sections, but not by much.
Aside from the obvious straightline advantage, the Caterham seems to enjoy less understeer in the quicker sections, but its nervousness at speed allow the aerodynamically stable Porsche to reel it in, no matter the gap eked out on the preceding straight. Of course, the driver factor ought to be considered, but considering how our cameraman is using lines taught to him by Porsche factory driver Kevin Estre, chances are he’s doing the right thing.