Thursday, December 12, 2013
Pro Drivers, Jay Leno Also Struggled With The Porsche That Killed Paul Walker
By now details surrounding the death of Fast and Furious star Paul Walker last week in a Los Angeles car crash are well-known.
But what the speed freaks and pro drivers have known for years is that the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT that killed Walker is notoriously difficult to drive—“dangerous” even, according to some higher-ups who work at the German automaker.
It’s “the first car in my life that I drive and I feel scared,” world rally champion and Porsche test driver Walter Rohrl told Drive magazine just before it went on sale in 2003. The concept had been unveiled at the Paris motor show in 2000 but was delayed because Rohrl, one of Porsche’s most experienced drivers, said its then-current power level was unmanageable for most ordinary drivers.
“I came back into the pits and I was white,” Rohrl said after one particularly harrowing lap on a rain-wet track.
Even when Porsche released the Carrera GT, it proved a challenging drive. Jay Leno–an acclaimed driver and expert mechanic who frequents racetracks and road rallies nationwide–spun out of control in a Carrera GT on the track at Talladega in 2005, no small thing for such an experienced driver. Leno was unavailable for comment.
A spokesman for Porsche declined to comment on the specifics of Walker’s death and on whether mechanical or driver error caused the crash. (There was another fatal Carrera GT crash at California Speedway in 2006. That case was settled out of court for $4.5 million, but it served to generate discussion that blamed Porsche for designing an especially lethal vehicle because the car does not offer electronic stability control.)
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident,” the spokesman said, noting that no Porsche employee was in the car or near it at the time of the accident. “We will cooperate fully with any investigation and any authorities who contact us.”
According to preliminary reports, Walker’s longtime friend and financial manager, Roger Rodas, was at the wheel when he apparently lost control and hit a tree with the car, which then set on fire. The crash happened at the end of a charity event organized by Rodas’s automotive tuning and racing company, Always Evolving.
Rodas reportedly acquired the red Porsche last spring and often took it to car shows. He had good reason to show it off: Porsche made the Carrera GT to rival the multi-million-dollar Ferrari Enzo for the title of the world’s fastest car. The V10 supercar produced 610 horsepower and cost $450,000 new. Fewer than 1,300 of them were made.
Posted by Palmer at 2:52 PM
Labels: 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, Jay Leno Also Struggled With The Porsche That Killed Paul Walker, Porsche, Pro Drivers