A few weeks ago I got a question from Porsche: if I'd like to do a passenger lap in the brand new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car? At the Zandvoort F1 track? Well, ok then!
So needless to say, I grabbed my helmet and my camera and got in the car. Only to realize it wouldn't make sense to arrive in Zandvoort two weeks early. I got out again and waited, until it was finally time to go and enjoy the Porsche 911 992 GT3 Cup car.
Zandvoort is a magical place on its own. There's a feeling I always get when driving through the tunnel onto the paddock that's hard to explain. It's a magical place that has so much heritage. Even after all the renovations and upgrades to accommodate F1 later this year, it still has that unique feeling of an old school track. All kind of legendary names won races here in touring car and single-seater classes. F1 was here last in the mid eighties, and the track remained pretty much unchanged since then. It's not a 'designed' track but one that's pretty much shaped by it's environment: twisting through the dunes of the North Sea coast. And it's on this track that I'm now putting on a balaclava and helmet.
Team GP Elite
The driving today is done by drivers who participate in the Porsche Supercup. Somehow Porsche missed the opportunity to sign me for the 2021 season, so I now have to get in the car on the passenger side, with one of the drivers from the GP Elite team named Jesse van Kuijk. Not too shabby, because Jesse van Kuijk did very well in the 2020 season.
Oh, by the way: in 2020, the first year for GP Elite in the Porsche Supercup, the team also delivered the world champion: Larry ten Voorde. Who, by the way, also won the German Porsche Carrera Cup. And that's not all: the rookie championship in the Porsche Supercup was won by Max van Splunteren, also a GP Elite driver.
A dream start for the team, if it weren't for the fact that they became second overall in the team-rankings; any guesses on the Team GP Elite goals for 2021? They are planning on winning at least the driver's and team championship, running a total of 11 cars across the Supercup and the German Porsche Carrera Cup, which runs with pretty much the same cars.
A lap in the Porsche 911 992 GT3 Cup
I get in the car with Jesse van Kuijk, who immediately warns me his tires are ruined due to rubber pick-up from driving outside the ideal line. Earlier that day they did a photo shoot, so he had to sacrifice this set of tires. I tell him not to hold back: I'm only going to be here for an outlap and an inlap, so he might as well make it spectacular.
It's a fun ride, that's for sure. Jesse tries to clean some rubber of the tires by getting as much heat in them as possible a few times and then goes for some real speed. The new F1 layout of the Zandvoort Circuit is really impressive, with two banked corners that used to be way less extreme. Especially the Hugenholtz corner is quite spectacular now. The last corner before the finishing straight is an easy flat out now, but actually less exciting than it was before, despite (or due to) the incredible banking it's now an easy flat-out in any car.
The thing that is most noticeable is the fact that the car can be thrown around quite easily, without the balance getting upset. The sometimes incredibly high kerbstones at the Zandvoort track are being used to the fullest, the car jumping and landing way softer than you'd expect. Of course this is an observation from the passenger seat, but it all seemed quite stress-free for Jesse.
The two laps are over before we know it, but it was certainly quite an experience. It made me realize once more that I need to make work of my racing license. Obviously a brand new Porsche 911 Cup car is quite a stretch, but days like these make me realize I really need racing action in my life. If only I could find some sponsorship money.
Thanks to Porsche Netherlands and GP Elite for having me, good luck with the championship guys!