Vortex Builds Custom Exhaust

Vortex Performance Exhausts have recently borrowed my Porsche Boxster race car to build and fit a prototype “cat/back” exhaust. The Vortex™ raceflo resonator is a performance stainless steel simple custom fit exhaust system for race car owners and racing enthusiasts who want to improve their car engines’ performance characteristics. The car was dyno tested before and after fitting to make certain that the engine output remains within our series’ technical regulations.

Based in Grays, Essex, Vortex produce exhausts for a wide range of cars and vans – and for marine applications too. Their Vortex™ system is a patented design to improve flow and economy and reduce engine stress. Vortex have already produced race exhausts for other series and are looking to the BRSCC Porsche Championship as a new area to expand the business.

Your name here – sponsor opportunities for 2014

Promote your company in the glamorous, high-profile world of motor racing. Every race of the series is televised on Motors TV and replays will be hosted on YouTube; press releases and race reports reach a wide audience via Championship and other websites and social media platforms. Depending on the level of sponsorship, benefits can include:

  • Your company name/logo on the car
  • Company name/logo on my own road car
  • Company name/logo on this website
  • Company name/logo on the driver’s non-race clothing
  • Company name/logo overlayed on in-car video footage
  • Company name in the event programme
  • Tickets to races
  • Photos of the race car for you to use in your own advertising
  • Large-format photos of the race car for your company premises

Please get in touch by leaving a comment to this post if you’re interested in any of these advertising opportunities in 2014.

Return to Eventful Oulton

I hadn’t been back to the Cheshire venue since I raced there for my first time ever in March of last year, so it was always going to be a challenge to get back up to speed on this immensely challenging circuit. I missed the opportunity to practice at Brands, so I was very determined to get out on the day before our races to re-familiarise myself with this very “technical” circuit which in its full configuration features two chicanes and a hairpin, plus the legendary double-apex corner that is Druids.

Photo by Lightprism, on Flickr

Having done so for Brands – and achieved it – I again set a target but in this instance, although I did improve on last year, I didn’t reach it. Malcolm Edeson had coached me here in March of 2012 in Sean Cooper/Track Focused race Boxster (the only time Malcolm has been in a race Boxster with me) and we set a time of 2:07.70 – and by the end of the same month, I had come close to that in my first ever race.

The Boxster in scrutineering
The Boxster in scrutineering

Rather than posting videos from the races (one of which was curtailed significantly due to a long period of safety car interventions) here’s footage of my best lap from qualifying. As usual, click through to watch on YouTube at slightly higher quality.

The retirement of no less than 7 cars in Race 1, plus a disqualification due to a technical infringement, left me finishing 7th in class – my highest ever in this series – and gifting me with 16 Championship points. I wasn’t so lucky in Race 2 where, even with 4 other Class A Boxsters behind me on the grid, I had to be satisfied with 10th. Together I collected 29 points which has left me in 12th place in the Class A points table. Given I’m missing the two races we have at Cadwell park later this month, its likely I’ll drop down again, but we’re back at Donington for the final round of the 2013 season – a circuit I’m far more familiar with. Hopefully with the help of the guys at Newbridge Motorsport, I can make a significant improvement again and finish higher.

Vroom for 4

I was recently privileged to borrow a demonstrator Basalt black 991 Carrera 4 from OPC Silverstone in Towcester for four days to take me to our race meeting at Oulton Park.

The Carrera 4 is a rarely-specified variant of the extensive 991 range, adding 4-wheel-drive to the base model. You can imagine that, fitted with a set of winter tyres (such as Pirelli’s Sotozero), this car would do as well on snowy and icy roads as many so-called “sports utility vehicles” (which often don’t even have a 4WD mode). The penalty of the added traction is a slight loss of front boot storage space, but with it comes some added weight which I’m certain benefits front-end grip. Pushing on around the country lanes around Woburn, I felt none of the uncertainly that appeared to be present in the 997 Gen 2 (at least with a standard geo) – turn-in was sharp and precise and it was extremely easy to forget that the car is equipped with electronic steering.

Porsche 991 Carrera 4

Built as a dealer demonstrator, this car came with an array of impressive gadgetry, some of which I’d never encountered in a Porsche before. Auto dimming mirrors preserved my night vision on the journey home; all-round parking sensors helped me avoid the hedges in the narrow back lanes around the Oulton Park circuit and for parking in Tarporley town centre. Cruise control took some of the strain out of the long motorway journey, but this system appears to be more intelligent than most , allowing some variance in actual road speed as the car transitioned to a slope –  which I’m sure aided the economy still further. I also liked the indicator feature where a quick flick of the lever would give me three flashes for lane changing. The integrated PCM audio and satellite navigation is a step up from previous systems and addresses most of the often-criticized issues of the systems that Porsche has employed in the past.

The paddle-equipped steering wheel is still an option on the 991.

Economy has never really featured as a selling point for the 911 but this latest car returns impressive figures. During my mostly motorway journey north, I watched the data display (right-most dial) as the mpg figure steadily rose to peak at a very impressive 34.7 by the time I left the M6 at J18. To further reduce emissions, PDK cars now come with a feature which actually turns off the engine when coasting or when stationary for more than a very short period. I personally found this activity very disconcerting and switched it off once I’d tried it a few times (Sport mode automatically turns off this feature).

All 4WD Carrera feature wide hips.

Economy however comes at the cost of performance and if you’re hoping for a kick-in-the-pants experience, you are going to need to look at the 3.8 litre engine variants of the 991 range. As part of Porsche’s economy drive, the “base” Carrera engine capacity has been dropped from 3.6 in the 997 to 3.4 for the new model, so the capacity is now the same as the S variant of the Boxster (even though it’s not actually the same unit). Admittedly in the Carrera an extra 35hp is extracted from the DFi engine at a higher 7400rpm, but this means that you have to “wring its neck” to reach the power band which is an activity the PDK’s computer is certainly not prepared to entertain in ‘D’ mode – even when you have activated the now-standard Sport button. Only once did I literally “floor it”, to overtake an uncharacteristically slow Golf GTi on the A54. The PDK box dropped not just one or two, but three gears, accompanied by a satisfying howl from the exhaust – but obviously this only began to happen once I had started the manoeuvre. Even though its changes are incredibly fast, I would recommend that instead of relying on the box to do all the shifting for you, in overtaking situations like this you make at least one downshift manually before beginning any steering input. If you fancy more driver involvement, it’s easy to switch PDK to manual and use either a sequential shift approach or use the on-wheel paddles to change up and down.

This car came with 20" wheels and Pirelli tyres.

There are some niggles with the car. This one came with the still-optional paddle shift SportDesign steering wheel,  and combined with the four control stalks, it’s easy to lose sight of some of the instrumentation, particularly the fuel gauge which sits bottom-right of the cluster.

No doubt as to make and model

Whilst the optional Sports seats do a great job of holding you in place sideways, there is a lack of lumbar support which gave me a little back ache after the long journey. If you have back problems, you might consider the new “Adaptive sports seats plus” instead.

Overall, this latest incarnation of the legendary 911 left me rather more impressed than I have been with earlier versions. I think Porsche have really “re-invented” the concept this time around – the 991 represents more of a step forward than the transition from 996 to 997. Their extensive use of aluminium in the body, as well as the slight changes to chassis and engine positioning, have made the car much more sure-footed on the road. At the same time, the new technology that has had many a motoring journalist worried (particularly the electronic steering), has not detracted from the driving experience.

Classic 911 lines

The figures:

  • power: 350 hp at 7,400 rpm
  • acceleration: 0-62 mph in 4.7 s
  • top speed: 177 mph
  • combined fuel consumption: 30.4 mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 219 g/km

I am indebted to Robin Simpson, Dealer Principal of OPC Silverstone for the loan of this magnificent machine.