The reach of PCGB has gifted Porsche Post an exclusive this month. Longstanding member Mike Price has just taken delivery of the UK’s first 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, Weissach’s newest customer race car, and we joined him for a test day ahead of its competitive debut.
At first sight it seems improbable that such a thing can be simply bought; a bona fide Weissach-built race car, delivered to your door. It looks not only stunning but also menacing in its purity of purpose. Eschewing the turbocharged four-pot ideology of the road cars, the 718 GT4 again uses the 3.8-litre flat-six from the 991.1 GT3, dry-sumped and finding 419bhp at 7500rpm. The rigidly mounted PDK transmission has shaved a ratio on its way to the track, offering six speeds against the current road-going 911 GT3 RS’s seven.
Brakes are 380mm vented steel, with six-piston aluminium callipers up front and fours at the rear. The front suspension set-up, meanwhile, has come straight off the GT3 Cup car. This includes three-way adjustable shock absorbers on the ‘Competition’ and a built-in air jack system. The more grown-up spec also gets you an endurance capacity fuel tank of 115 litres, a fully plumbed in fire extinguishing system and inboard brake bias adjustment.
Inside, the spirit of Weissach feels ever-present: standard white paint, welded full cage, removeable roof section and single, enveloping Recaro race seat. In front of you is a Cosworth colour display and multifunction motorsport steering wheel with pit-speed limiter.
We met Mike in the pits at Donington Park, the day after the first round of the Club Championship. Since 2016, Mike has been racing in the series with no previous experience beyond regular trackdays. The day before, his 997 suffered catastrophic engine failure during qualifying, having delivered just three flying laps, the best of which was good enough for pole. The 997 languishes on a trailer at the back of the paddock and his small team is now busy checking pressures and fluids on the GT4 before first practice.
Mike has entered the Cayman into the 750 Club Enduro Championship, a series devised by the 750 Motor Club to offer the demands of short endurance-style races at an accessible amateur level. His Cayman will be sharing the tarmac with anything from BMW M4s to MX-5s, divided into three classes by power-to-weight. It’s an interesting and informative series for someone still pretty new to racing. As Mike explains, his trajectory has been short and sharp: “It was 2016. I went straight from trackdays into a Class A built 911 with the likes of McAleer, Sumpter and Wilkins around me. It was a bit wild driving in Class 1 with ‘novice’ written on my back, but it was kill or cure. I was either going to hate it or something was going to bite. In the end it was both of those things. It was bloody hard work but it was intoxicating.”
The GT4 is evidence enough that, at 52, Mike has more than caught the bug, and back-to-back wins at Spa in Club Enduro in his 997 back up the passion with obvious talent. But has it been hard to adapt to a purpose-built racer? “The big differences are in the feel of the car. It’s a factory-built race car tuned and prepped by Manthey Racing. So it’s a proper racer and you can feel that. And you have to push yourself to achieve what the car is capable of.”
During our conversation, Mike confirms a rumour that has been doing the rounds for some time – that Porsche GB has been looking at a one-make series for the GT4. Although nothing has been confirmed, the bare bones of the idea is a championship run in a very similar fashion to Carrera Cup, with a comparable number of entries and the same level of scrutineering, that would act as another building block in the Porsche pyramid.
Following the usual nomenclature of Porsche’s national race series, the new championship is expected to be called the Porsche Sprint Challenge Great Britain. Part of what promises to make the Sprint Challenge so attractive is affordability. The Cayman GT4 Clubsport comes with ‘no life’ engine and gearbox, meaning no costly rebuilds. With just regular maintenance and consumables, this will be a much cheaper car to run than the equivalent GT3, and the overall outlay is expected to be roughly half of what it costs to do a season in Carrera Cup.
The other selling point, of course, is the close nature of the racing in a fast, fastidiously run and properly supported single-make series. If the Sprint Challenge comes together, it’s expected to do so in part on the TOCA touring car bill, supporting other high-profile national series with a healthy field of amateur and pro-am drivers, toe-to-toe on some of the best (and best attended) circuits in the country.
Although the programme remains unofficial, Porsche GB’s Motorsport Manager James McNaughton has been able to confirm a healthy interest from existing customers. Porsche is organising a taster day on a circuit hired exclusively for the purpose later in the year that will enable prospective participants to try the GT4 and meet the team before signing on the line.
And it seems Mike can’t wait to get started. “No one wants to be in a series that isn’t sharp end competitive,” he says, “because that’s where the reward is. If you put the effort in – the investment, the time, the commitment – and can be at the front, it’s so rewarding. When you can string it together, the team’s on it and you’re working as a unit, banging out quick times, it’s immense. There’s a lot of disappointment in motorsport, way more than there is elation, but when you get that elation,
it is a bit addictive.”
Want to see more? Enjoy a gallery of photos here.