In the moment: piloting a GT3 car through Eau Rouge, CAR+ September 2015

Published: 09 September 2015

► Piloting a GT3 car through Eau Rouge
► Six pointers on how to master the corner
► McLaren GT ace Kevin Estre talks to CAR 

1) ‘Stay as close to the wall as you can’

This is the start of the Blancpain 24 Hours of Spa. I qualified in second, 0.017sec off pole. Despite the rain I made a good start and passed the Audi R8 for the lead. On the run down towards Eau Rouge you run as close as you dare to the old pitwall, to set yourself up for the corner.

2) ‘Your line and timing are critical’ 

You turn left, then right, then run up the hill. You have to be aggressive with the first turn, the left, and use a lot of kerb. Now the most important part; the transition. Turn too early and at the crest the car will understeer, you’ll run out of racetrack and you’ll have to lift-off.

3) ‘A good set-up is important’ 

To be able to take Eau Rouge flat, as I did in the dry in qualifying, the car has to be perfect. You need mega downforce but you also need the damping to be right otherwise the car will bottom-out in the compression at the foot of the climb. If you don’t lift-off you’ll spin.

4) ‘Trust in the downforce’

Last year’s 12C was strong on the straights. The 650S has more drag but also more downforce, so it’s faster through high-speed corners and more stable under braking. The feeling through Eau Rouge, with the downforce pinning you to the track, is amazing.

5) ‘Be in the right car – the 650S is strong’

The 650S is close to the Audi R8 and the BMW Z4, though the BMW seems more powerful this year. The fastest cars on the straights are the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Lamborghini Huracan and the Nissan GT-R Nismo. They are really difficult to fight with in traffic.

6) ‘We need a good run onto the straight’

It is a challenge to pass the [invariably slower] gentleman drivers when they are in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. The cars have ABS, so they can brake almost as late as us. At Spa my teammate had an accident with a gentleman in a Ferrari and we lost 20 laps…

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Automotive Hub, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count