Porsche 964 RS vs 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight
As introductions to a new track go, this undoubtedly registers at the ‘surreal’ end of the spectrum. I’m no stranger to learning unfamiliar circuits, but I don’t normally initiate myself to new surroundings quite like this.
At the wheel of a 964 Carrera RS, I’m familiarising myself with Botniaring’s nine distinct turns, all the while battling 1.62 miles of damp Finnish Tarmac soaked an hour or so earlier by an unseasonably heavy rainstorm.
As if that wasn’t challenging enough, I’m attempting to keep up the pace with one of Weissach’s racing legends, Jürgen Barth. Yes, that Jürgen Barth, the man who has stood on all three steps of the La Sarthe podium, topped off by a victory in the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Did I mention that Jürgen is driving a near-priceless 964 Carrera 4 Lightweight, a car that he devised while heading up Porsche’s customer motorsport division? No? Well he is, and the advantage of four-wheel drive traction (and his obvious surplus of talent) is making my job entertainingly difficult. I said it was surreal.
Thankfully, the 964 Carrera RS – as I found out on the Peak District’s roads in issue 128 – is the friendliest Rennsport partner a 911 enthusiast could ask for, one of the key factors behind its current resurgence in the eyes of Porsche collectors.
Unlike later GT3-prefixed RSs, the 3.6-litre 964 is no high horsepower animal, meaning that I’m left to revel in the delicious chassis devised by Roland Kussmaul and co at the turn of the 1990s. More on that later though.
The Porsche 964 RS – the first Rennsport to get a large production run since the iconic Carrera 2.7 RS – was, like many of Weissach’s greatest road car creations, born out of the necessity to go racing.
In 1988, after a six-year stint at BMW, Ulrich Bez returned to Weissach as technical director after Helmuth Bott’s decision to retire. At the time, Porsche’s Cup series in Germany and France were using the front-engined 944 Turbo but, with the 964 generation of 911 due to debut at the end of 1989, Bez believed that the one-make championships were the best shop window for the new neunelfer.
To read our full million-pound track test of these two Porsche 964 leviathans, pick up Total 911 issue 131 in store. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.