It doesn‘t happen very often you that you have the chance to experience the rarest and most amazing supercars of our time on the open road – let alone high up in the rugged mountainous regions of the Central Alps. But for the Dunlop Super Drive this weekend, the supercar heroes of modern-day mythology met in the Swiss mountains from all over Europe – Ferraris galore, from the 812 Superfast to the F12 TdF, 488 Spider and GTC4 Lusso. Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadsters and Huracan Performantes. Not to mention the McLaren P1, 675 LT and 650 Spider. Plus the Mercedes AMG GTR and SLR 772 Roadster. And of course a motley collection of Porsche 918 Spyder, 911 GT3 RS and GT2RS beauties. Even mythical creatures like the Koenigsegg Agera RS and the Rimac Concept One are here, lined up alongside a couple of dozen gull-winged, carbon spoiler-clad contemporaries at the legendary Grimsel Hospiz, ready to spend three days together taking on the most exciting Alpine passes, while subjecting their tyres to the ultimate test.
And which car have you chosen, we had frequently been asked in the days before the event, to show off your driving test skills at this summit meeting of supersport deities? What kind of car would merit a raised eyebrow at all in such a family constellation of automobile superegos? The mutilated Maybach owned by Kayne West and Jay Z? The gazillion dollar expensive Lamborgotti Fasterossa owned by Mr. Burns from the Simpsons? Way off, we had said with a self-assured smile – and had pointed to a photo of the Porsche 718 Boxster GTS on our smartphones. Sympathetic smiles, reassuring pats on the back, yeah, okay. We’ll see you later in the chalet.
But anyone who has gobbled up more Alpine kilometres in his time than the number of miles NASA has covered to the moon and back has learned a few things. For example, that other laws apply beyond the tree line. And that, when negotiating the curves and hairpin bends of the Alpine passes, it is not always the most powerful, the widest and the lowest sports car that promises to deliver the best driving performance. In fact and to be perfectly honest – the sacred word of honour of a Porsche driver – the mid-engined 718, with its moderate proportions and stiff chassis, is the ideal interface to handle legendary mountain passes such as the Stelvio, Grimsel, Gotthard, Furka and Nufenen. The 911 drivers waiting at the traffic lights in Munich and Zürich can smile with as much sympathy as they like – anyone wishing to follow the ideal line on the asphalt of an Alpine pass 2,000 metres above sea level that has been eaten away by the forces of nature has an unbeatable, high-precision instrument in his hands with the so-called ʺbaby Porscheʺ.
Of course, we could agree on a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. But anyone wanting to get back on the road from a poorly gravelled lay-by without having to order a new set of carbon sills in the next village has most definitely chosen the better Alpine sports car with the Boxster GTS, a car that is less suitable for the racetrack, but still puts out a formidable 360 bhp. And anyone who can claim to have a 12-cylinder engine under the bonnet of his car may possibly come out on top in a virtual fast car duel – but on the mountain, where every kilo counts, the choice of a four-cylinder can certainly be justified. And we can‘t recall the drivers of the mythical Porsche 904 Bergspyder in their day complaining about the small number of cylinders. Even the Turbo version – reviled by purists – has the advantage in the thin air of the mountains of not suddenly running out of power for lack of oxygen and covering the last few metres to the top of the pass wheezing like a fully-laden old-aged pensioner on a duty-free shopping trip.
Please don‘t get us wrong – as devout Porsche aficionados, we would happily get down on our knees and cover ourselves in ashes in front of a Porsche 918 Spyder or Porsche 911 GT2RS. All praise to their wonderfully sounding names, blessed be their stiff sports suspension. But to climb the modest mountain roads of the Central Alps in one of those supercar projectiles is a bit like taking pot shots at humming birds with bazookas – exaggerating just a little perhaps. They find their fulfilment on the racing tracks of this world. And no matter how enormously satisfying it may be to put your foot down in a 700-bhp projectile made by either Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren – the fiendish pleasure we had of having negotiated in truly “soulful” fashion the combinations of curves we love so well in the underdog of the Dunlop Super Drive is something that even Jay Z and Mr. Burns together couldn’t take away from us.