As the American LeMans Series rolled into Mosport International Raceway, situated an hour east of Toronto, the only thing that could match the aural assault of a flat-six Porsche engine roaring down the main straight was the searing heat – weather forecasters noted that with the humidity taken into account, temperatures felt like 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Despite the excruciating conditions, we were unwilling to turn down the opportunity of a lifetime, and the chance to ride shotgun in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racecar, which will take part in the IMSA GT3 Challenge support race this weekend. AutoGuide was the sole media representative at Mosport, and the other passenger was a race driver interested in joining the series in 2012.
Our pilot for the afternoon was Randy Oswald, who counts the Mosport race as his home event. Oswald had the benefit of a liquid-cooled racing suit to combat the searing heat, while passengers were allowed to wear short sleeved shirts and long pants. As Oswald expounded on the importance of proper safety gear, reports of a crash came through the radio, delaying the practice session for some time. “I was told that if you drive one of these long enough,” he said, pointing to his brand new 911 GT3 Cup car, “you’ll set one on fire – so always wear your firesuit.” Sure enough, the wrecked car we’d heard about earlier came in on a flatbed, with the rear end of the car crumpled and charred by flames.
Luckily, the hot laps were much more fun and free of any life-threatening conditions, as Oswald expertly piloted the car through Mosport’s 10 turn, 2.4 mile course. With very little run-off room, daunting elevation changes and the potential for very high speeds, Mosport is one of the world’s great tracks, and experiencing it in a full-blown race car was a treat. A Porsche representative warned us not to take our SLR camera in the car, since the g-forces turn our small Nikon into the equivalent of a 60 lb freeweight while in motion, presenting a safety hazard should it get loose.
Outfitted with a whining sequential gearbox that muffles out the raucous exhaust note, the GT3 Cup accelerated rapidly down the straights, but completely blew us away with the sheer amount of grip available thanks to the Yokohama Advan slicks and the specially designed aerodynamics package that enable the car to pull as much as 1.6 Gs. One driver noted that even a 911 GT3 RS can be coaxed into a gentle four-wheel drift throughout the track, but the aforementioned tires and aero package help keep the GT3 Cup planted in a way that no street car can ever dream of.
The ALMS series at Mosport kicks off Friday and lasts until Sunday, with the first GT3 Challenge race on Saturday, July 23rd at 4:50 P.M. The main ALMS race will be held on Sunday, July 24th at 3:05 P.M, and according to ALMS, is the fastest race on the entire schedule, with speeds average speeds of over 130 mph for the prototype cars.