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Yeah, you’ve read it right!
The video below shows a moderately or, some would say, even slightly modified Miata on the Nürburgring Nordschleife lapping the famed course in under 8 minutes, which is amazing in itself. Then add the fact that the driver was by no means alone on the track and that it was covered with more or less egoistic traffic, aptly called ‘obstacles’ in the video title. Among the mentioned ‘obstacles’, you can also find several respectable cars whose power ratings and track credentials greatly surpass those of our beloved Miatas on paper. Just some of them are a Subaru Impreza, several sporty hot hatches (OK, they are not better than the MX-5), a sporty BMW 3 Series coupe and three Porsche 911s, all of which end up behind the Miata. Now, one of those Porsches is the 997 991 GT3 RS – a proper track beast which, in spite of being street legal, is one of the most capable track cars in the world, having even been entered into official endurance races such as the 2010 24 Hours of Nurburgring.
Watching the video alone will show incredible driving, but knowing what and who is behind it will show you just how incredible the whole thing is. Let’s start with our human hero.
The man, or the beast, behind the wheel is Robert Serwanski, a 28-year-old Swede who works as a test driver at Koenigsegg. Before this employment he was racing in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Sweden and killing it there as well, winning the cup twice and in his last year there having 7 podiums out of 8 races, including 5 wins. It is an understatement to say that he knows how to drive, so it is no wonder that
Christian von Koenigsegg has put enough trust in him to pay him to test drive some of the fastest cars in the world. However, despite enjoying the beastly Koenigseggs on a daily basis, Serwanski obviously hasn’t forgotten his MX-5.
His weapon of choice in the video is his own Mazda MX-5 NC 2.0 Sport Roadster Coupé. It does have modifications, but nothing that would come even closely to explaining what is happening in the video.
The mods include an aftermarket exhaust and a cold air intake, 225/45 R16 street legal tires, coilovers with 10/7 springs, front and rear anti-sway bars sourced from an RX8, aftermarket brakes, carbon fiber seat and of course, an ECU remap to accommodate the changes that the new exhaust and air intake bring.
For those of you not so familiar with the mentioned modifications, they mostly include the ones that improve cornering ability of the car, while the ones that actually boost the power rating will hardly add more than 10-20 hp to the stock 167 hp. There is no forced induction, no mods to the engine’s internals or the manual gearbox and you can see just how ‘regular’ the power is from the fact that even when going flat out, the top speed gets up to about 215 km/h (133 mph) and that’s it.
Moreover, even the added cornering aides don’t even come close to what the GT3 RS packs as standard, as you will see in the next section.
We don’t know who the driver of the other car is and it is not very likely that he will make himself known to the world, but the car is pretty familiar to all petrolheads. The 997 991 GT3 RS is a high-performance version of the already high-performing Porsche 911, primarily aimed at racing. The GT3 models are thought to be made pretty much for homologation purposes and their production numbers are comparably low. They are powerful, lightweight, tuned for racing and pretty spartan, being devoid of weight-adding comfort perks. The added RS means that the car is even lighter and more powerful and that it packs a wider rear end for better looks, but also improved stability. This is what a street legal race car is. Moreover, the 997 generation has ‘zero lift’ aerodynamics, track modified, electronically adjustable PASM suspension, dynamic engine mounts and loooads of other track-oriented perks. They are so apt for racing that they regularly beat other Porsches that have even more power, but are left with more comfort perks and more comfortable suspension settings.
Speaking of the power, there have been two different H6 engines in the facelifted GT3 RS (which the one in the video is – see the difference in design of the taillights) providing the car with 450 hp or 500 hp to play with. Both versions provide the acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) of about 3.5 seconds (often thought to be pretty conservative, with several independent tests proving better times) and top out at 311 km/h (193 mph). Just so much faster (and comparably more expensive) than the MX-5 NC.
So, how did Serwanski obliterate the car that is 50% faster than his own?
He is just that good! Plus, he obviously loves driving the Miata (something we can all agree on). From his own words, prior to this ride, he had lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife about 100 times, which is a cool way to get to know the track. However, it is not too many, especially when you have in mind that the track is more than 20km long. We can see his perfect cornering technique, impeccable line choices, incredible balance and ice-cold composure best seen during those scary curvy and jumpy sections at high speeds that the Nürburgring Nordschleife is packed with. Just look at the way he enters the curves at top speed after the starting-line straight starting from the 3-minute mark.
As for the GT3 RS, it has to be annoying when you see an MX-5 pressing in from behind and knowing the power and other capabilities difference. You can see the GT3 flying by with ease while Serwanski is driving as fast as the car can go on the straight at 2:40. The Porsche driver was braking a lot earlier and probably the best driving lesson in this video can be seen in the differences in the path choices between the two drivers in the durable sections when the Porsche is just in front of Serwanski (and stubbornly refusing to let him pass, despite all codes of conduct in such cases). It is also interesting to see how Serwanski applies the brakes in the red bar, as well as when he applies full throttle at the exits of curves. It is remarkable how rarely we can hear the tires squeal, which tells us just how good Serwanski is with the steering wheel and … well, everything else in that MX-5. Mind you, the driver of the Porsche is by no means a bad one and he is most definitely not willingly letting Serwanski overtake him.
After seeing this lap I have to wonder what the Miata can do when alone on the track and devoid of slowing down so as not to hit the other cars or picking less effective trajectories for the same reason. Hats off for Mr. Serwanski!