“Nürburgring lap times are totally necessary,” say some. “Nürburgring lap times are bullshit and don’t matter,” say others. Porsche used to be in the first camp. Now it seems that it’s kind of meandered over to the second one.
The 991-generation Porsche 911 GT3 broke the hearts of Porschephiles everywhere by not offering a manual option (something something Porsche 911 R something millions of dollars something). The 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 will give it back to us. People were pretty thrilled about that. And it seems this move reflects a new mindset that Porsche has taken on.
Speaking with Autoguide during the New York Auto Show, Porsche GT boss Andreas Preuninger said:
“There are a lot of people who aren’t looking at the stopwatch when they’re on the track and they just want the interaction and they want a driver’s car. This is the reason why we left the route of being the quickest on the Nürburgring and only thinking about lap times. I don’t care that the competition is a little bit faster around the ‘Ring.
“It’s not our mainstream program to have the quickest lap times and to advertise our cars only by lap time because, to be honest with you, if you have a car with the perfect setup for the Nürburgring, it will be a dog on the street and everywhere else.”
At this point in time, we can either choose to believe a Porsche spokesperson’s words... or! We can realize that this is totally Porsche acknowledging that it is no longer the One True Ring King.
In 2008, the then-new R35 Nissan GT-R royally pissed Porsche off when it achieved a claimed Nürburgring lap time of 7:29, which was faster than both the 911 Turbo and the GT2, despite being down on power and heavier. In retaliation, Porsche then sourced its own GT-R from the States and ran a lap of its own, only to confirm what everyone at Porsche already indignantly thought: it was slower than the 911s.
The bitchy slap-fighting between the two manufacturers finally got Chris Harris involved, who drove both the GT-R and the GT2 back to back on the Ring and found that the Nissan was indeed slower. Woo, I guess. But still... that was a close one. A Porsche almost lost out to a Nissan.
And then, last March, another controversy arose: Lamborghini’s new Huracán Performante claimed to have beaten the Porsche 918's 6:57 Ring time by five seconds. A good amount of skepticism followed. People watched the video and claimed that there was no way a Lamborghini that was down on power could beat the 918. Scandal, they cried!
In response, Lamborghini then released the full GPS telemetry of its lap, no doubt trying to get everyone to shut the fuck up once and for all.
Anyway! All of that is a bullshit pissing contest. What’s nice is that Porsche realizes ‘Ring times aren’t everything and seem to be focused on all-around performance and things people just enjoy driving.