Porsche Vs. BMW part 2

Porsche Vs. BMW. This is a heated debate between the supporters of each of these key marques in racing. If you are a BMW owner you appreciate the Porsches because they are made in Germany and they are fast on the race track. But when the BMW supporter is on the track with a Porsche it is that drivers goal to embarrass the Porsche by being faster in the smaller, cheaper BMW. You are proud of the history of your car because it has won lots of professional races. If you are a Porsche supporter it is almost the opposite. You admire the BMW because it does driver really well. It can almost keep up with your Porsche but just not quite. Porsche has a history of building fast race winning cars and that is what your car is. It is a race winner. Nobody can beat it including your other German friend, Mr. BMW. The Porsche is superior. The weekend of the 24 Hours of Daytona I tested out both famous marques where both kept me smiling from ear to ear. How did each one feel and how did I go from driving a superior race built Porsche to the street car turned race car BMW?

First one part that made this jump easier than normal was the fact the Porsche was very similar to the BimmerWorld 328 World Challenge car that I drove last year. The transmission, clutch, braking system, and aerodynamics are all somewhat similar. The Porsche responded to some of the same inputs the same as the World Challenge car. Luckily this also meant the CTSCC BMW also responded somewhat in the same way since it is the same model BMW as the World Challenge car. These inputs I am talking about are all the same ideas that are taught at most BMWCCA and PCA drivers schools across the country. The cars each have their own little nuances but all it takes is to feel what the car is doing and then respond accordingly so it works for the car.

Here is one good example of what I am talking about. The BimmerWorld BMW CTSCC car has a stock brake system from the calipers to the pedal assembly. The master cylinder, brake booster, calipers, rotors, and pads are all stock size. The Porsche has a completely modified braking system. The pedal assembly is not stock, it doesn’t have power brakes, it has huge calipers and huge rotors, the pads have more surface area. To get this car to slow down you have to act like Chuck Norris trying to kick a door down and really kick the brake pedal. It is a very violent hit of the pedal. The BMW on the other hand takes more of a smooth hit of the pedal. The reason for this is because of the brake booster and staying out of the ABS system. Too violent of a hit and it will trigger ABS causing the car to not brake as efficiently as we would like. So when I went from the Porsche to the BMW I had to adapt my right foot on the pedal so it wouldn’t be too violent.

Luckily when it came to the gas pedal I didn’t have to be so precise. I could allow my right foot to be a little bit more dumb. The reason for this is because both cars have a decent amount of power but the tires under the car have more grip than you imagine. With both the Porsche and the BMW I didn’t have to worry too much about spinning the rear tires when I went to throttle. What I did have to worry about though was weight transfer to the rear. The BMW wouldn’t transfer as much weight as the Porsche but they both responded similar to the initial throttle application. Too much throttle too early in the turn and I would pick up a slight understeer that would cause me to have to lift and would delay when I went to full throttle. Too much at apex and both cars would come out in a drift with the rear end hanging out. Both were easy to control when they did this but to be fast I still had to be careful. The BMW was easier to drift out than the Porsche because it was more of a momentum car since it has a lot less horsepower.

The easiest part of both cars was figuring out the driving line around the track that worked for both them. They were both very similar to each other in where you would hit the brakes, where you would turn in, where you wanted the car at apex, and where you would let the car track out. One of the big differences that was ever so slight was the Porsche having a lot more horsepower I didn’t have to worry as much about how high I would come out onto the banking of the NASCAR section of the track. The BMW didn’t climb up the banking as well so I would want to keep it lower.

The next part that was a little bit harder to get used to was the difference in the motors and the transmissions. The BMW has a stock motor that revs to about 7200 RPMs. The motor makes about 250 HP and has a stock style flywheel and clutch. The transmission is a stock BMW 6-speed with a h-pattern shift pattern. The Porsche is a complete different approach. Its motor revs to 8700 RPMs, makes about 450 HP and pulls hard all the way to the 8700 RPM redline. The clutch and transmission in the Porsche are also highly developed racing parts. There is nothing in this car that is found in the street GT3s. The transmission in the Porsche is sequential that only requires a push forward on the shifter to downshift and a pull back to upshift without ever using the clutch. Also because of the very light flywheel and clutch it responded to throttle inputs a lot quicker than the BMW. So this was what took the most getting used to. The Porsche was easy to stall when starting out in the pits. Touch the throttle and it would rev quick. Start to the let the clutch pedal out to go and it would engage like an on off switch. The two were very hard to get right when I first started. After a little bit it got better. And there is nothing more embarrassing than a racecar driver that stalls a car with people watching. What took the longest for me to remember in the two cars was how to shift the gears. I would get in the BMW after the Porsche and not want to use the clutch to shift the gears. I would make this mistake once or twice and then get back in the groove of going through the gears in a standard H-pattern. With the Porsche I would push the clutch in to upshift (not a big deal) and then remember that could just hold me foot on the floor and pull back on the shift lever to get into the next gear. All it took was to just think about it a little bit beforehand and I would have no issues.

What I think was the most important part of this debate about Porsche Vs BMW at Daytona was that both cars were really easy cars to drive. They both rewarded the driver with great lap times and lots of enjoyment in driving. I think what is really important here is that both cars are racecars. Both of them are prepared to the limits the rules of the series they race in. Both of them were built by two great teams to be fast. Either way they are racecars with tires on them. To drive either of them all it takes is to feel out what the tires are doing. And that is what I did. Go from one set of tires to another on both cars and drive to what grip they had. The rest of it is simple and not rocket science.

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