New Porsche 911 R driven: Preuninger’s finest hour

The 9A1 Rennsport flat six fills the cabin with a howling crescendo of noise as the 991 dashes at an astonishing rate along the asphalt. My right foot buried into the floor, I glance down to see the tachometer needle thrash round towards the redline as the car’s crank spins wildly.

Approximately 200 yards dead ahead, three pylon-mounted arrow signs point left as the road duly sweeps round and out of sight. Action is required to prepare the car for the upcoming corner, and quickly.

Then something strange happens. After scrubbing some speed with a dab of the brake pedal, convention in a 991 GT car dictates that a mere pull of the left PDK paddle on the steering wheel is all that’s needed to change down a gear, a smooth-yet largely excitement-free action for the driver to implement pre-turn in.

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But then this is far from a conventional 991 GT. It may have the 500hp, 4.0-litre engine of the latest 911 Rennsport, but this is no mere 991 GT3 RS either: equipped with a manual gearbox, this is the GT3 RS’s fiery sibling, the 991 R – and it’s outrageously brilliant.

We unveiled the rebirth of Porsche’s ‘R’ moniker to you back in issue 138 and now, three weeks ahead of the car’s official first drive for journalists around the globe, we’re treated to two golden hours at the wheel of a German-plated yet right-hand drive example on twisty, deserted roads from Scotland’s Pitlochry to the Isle Of Skye.

Porsche’s new manual six-speeder has given me more to do before that fast-approaching corner though, so I’m coerced into dabbing the brake pedal with the toes of my right foot, shortly before my right heel prods down and right to blip the throttle.

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Meanwhile, my left foot kicks that all-important third pedal, decoupling the clutch for a split second as I push the shifter across its gate to engage second gear from third, keeping the car in check as it makes the turn.

The practice of heel-and-toe is a classic if well-versed routine to a driver, yet in a 991-generation GT car, the technique is as welcome as it is refreshing, the sensation transformational in providing another stratum of entertainment at the wheel.

The return of a third pedal to the footwell of a ‘Preuninger 911’ is, after all, a victory for the avid peddler. Great as the 991 GT3 and GT3 RS are at lopping chunks from lap times, the caveat ultimately is a detachment between car and driver in terms of involvement. Porschephiles not intent on clinical circuit driving demanded a more traditionally oriented performance 911 and, as is pleasing to see, Andreas Preuninger’s Weissach team has listened carefully.

To read Lee’s Porsche 991 R test drive in full, pick up Total 911 issue 141 in store today. Alternatively order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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