Tuthill Porsche Team completed 120 kilometres of trouble-free gravel testing this week with the Porsche 997 R-GT rally car at Walters Arena in Wales. Driven by Richard Tuthill, team’s R-GT Porsche performed above and beyond all expectations.
â€˜The car was born to be driven on gravel,â€ said Richard after the test. â€œIt is well balanced, amazingly easy to drive and exceptionally fast with the wonderful 3.8-litre engine and sequential six-speed gearbox.
â€œWe experimented with the setup throughout the day and will continue to develop certain areas, but I could not have imagined it could be so good from the very first turn of the wheel. Itâ€™s more than ready to hit the stages, be they gravel or snow.
â€œWe have already established the carâ€™s performance on asphalt, so this successful test confirms to us all that our Porsche R-GT is an accomplished all-rounder, ready to be used across the world in all regional championships where the regulations follow FIA guidance.â€
Set to debut on gravel at Wales Rally GB this coming weekend, the Tuthill Porsche 997 R-GT has now been ruled out of the event as the Federation Internationale de Lâ€™Automobile,(FIA) governing body of the World Rally Championship (WRC), has declined to sanction the carâ€™s gravel specification.
Richard Tuthill attended a special meeting in Geneva with representatives from the technical department and WRC managers where, despite some positive outcomes for the future of R-GT, continued discussion could not pave the way for the use of the Tuthill Porsche 997 on this occasion.
â€œWithin the existing R-GT regulations, there is the scope to allow modification to the suspension uprights fitted to the chosen model,â€ explains Richard. â€œHowever, this only allows the fitment of gravel brakes. In the case of the 997 R-GT, the upright is too big to fit within a 15-inch gravel wheel, regardless of the size of caliper and disc fitted. The FIA needs to review how this issue can be resolved. Unsurprisingly, it is not willing to allow complete freedom for unrestricted modification, on grounds of safety.
â€œWe found a production-based solution, which we tested to great effect. Despite detailed development by our chief engineer â€“ one of the most experienced motorsport engineers in the world with experience of Le Mans, WRC and Dakar over 30 years â€“ this was still not enough to convince the FIA technical department.
â€œThe FIA has been exceptionally bold to push forward with the exciting R-GT project, and has also been very open-minded in many ways: MichÃ¨le Mouton and Jarmo Mahonen in particular. It is a new class and we will all face challenges that need open discussion and thinking to get around. That said, I cannot hide my frustration at the way this decision has been made, given that we started this enquiry in May.â€