Very, Very Fast Laps
in the 911 Carrera S
While my new driving partner didn’t quite get the hang of activating launch control, it was easy for me. You just step fully on the brake, then fully on the accelerator, then the engine will rev to around 6000rpm and hold there. Then you lift off the brake for a great start. It’s a wonderful moment to enjoy and a full lap goes something like this: I rocket out of the pits and then fall into formation with the other cars. We blast down the remaining main straightaway, then hard on the brakes into turn one, a sharp right. As in practice, I brake at the large cone, positioned just 100ft from the corner, then turn in while still braking. The car wraps the 90-degree corner, easily steering as the weight begins to transfer from the front to the rear taking us past turn two. A quick dab of brakes to keep things tidy for turn three unravels into a full throttle exit that takes us down the next straight and into triple-digit speeds. There is a lot of grip at the rear thanks to 0.5-inch wider rear wheels on both models (now up to 11.5in.), and wider 305mm (up from 295mm) tyres on the Carrera S. Rear-wheel steering is now an option on the Carrera S.
Turn four comes up a few PDK gear changes later, and once more I lean hard into the brakes, this time into the sharp left-hander, followed by the sharp right of turn five. I late apex turn six in order to soften the exit line and charge up the straight, taking the right side to prepare for turn seven. As with most strings of chicane-like corners, sacrificing the usual lines and some entry speed at the beginning results in better lines at the end, and higher corner exit speeds. I try to increase the pace without overcooking the lines for turns eight and nine. Mid-corner left-foot braking helps tighten the line slightly. It’s more difficult here, as you need to keep the car neutral, and there is less weight on the front tyres. You also have to use your lines to keep the weight on the outer tyres for maximum grip– just like what our instructor was saying about the table.
The next section has a slight left curve but it can be taken flat out. We hit about 200km/h here, as it comes after the faster series of corners. At this speed, turn 12 comes very quickly. It’s another sharp right turn and the track is wide, which allows for passing and braking room. We sail over to the right to set up for the very tight turn 13, which feels like a 135-degree kink that needs some left-foot braking to keep things tidy. Turn 14 begs restraint as I approach the stadium wall. By turn 15, I’m thinking the main straight is coming up soon! Turn 16 is worth cutting, then I widen my line into turn 17, trying to hold speed while rocketing up the main straightaway. One-sixty, 180, 200, 220, 230, 240, 250, 252, 254km/h, and then I’m looking at the back of another 911. After that, I pump hard on the brakes and hurtle into turn one all over again. Just for reference, top speeds are around 293km/h and 306km/h for the PDK-equipped Carrera and Carrera S versions, respectively.
At the end of the second lap, we pit and my brakes are smoking, but they cool off in a few short minutes. These are of course the larger six-piston 350mm front brakes of the 911 Carrera S and I am left amazed at their capabilities. The Carrera features four-piston brake calipers, which grip larger brake discs (330mm x 34mm, or 6mm thicker) using brake pads that are 17 per cent larger. The optional ceramic brake system (PCCB) includes massive brake discs (front: 410mm x 36mm, rear: 390mm x 32mm), and matching brake calipers as found on the 911 Turbo. We repeated this until each driver had about six to eight laps completed. It was amazing to see the kind of punishment the 911 endured without missing a beat. While the cars felt huge and cumbersome on the tiny Mexican city lanes, they became toys on the circuit.
View this photo set on Flickr