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Dance lesson with Kern and Webber

Porsche test program on a very small scale: Team Webber vs. Team Kern in the new Porsche 911 Cabrio. And the realization: it's not the car.

Text: Matthias Mederer Photo: Matthias Mederer 03.05.2019 2 min

"Cheer up!" Ex-Formula 1 and LMP1 rider Mark Webber takes the defeat calmly, also cheers up his team immediately. "We were close, we only hit one or two pylons too many." Weissach, this is where Porsche's development takes place in secret. Nobody comes in here who is not urgently responsible for Porsche's vehicle development. Visitors? We have to stay outside. Journalists? Photographers? No way!

Yet we’re right there. As an exception. Even officially. Exclusively, we are allowed to take a look at what is soon to come. Together with a few people from the security service and with Mark Webber and Lars Kern, the record holder on the Nürburgring Nordschleife for road legal vehicles. Around us lies the Porsche's own test track, on which test drives of future models are also being carried out. Besides the Taycan, the sports cars of the future drive here. Literally. Everything still heavily camouflaged, but already fully capable.

We are here because Mark Webber and Lars Kern want to demonstrate the extraordinary handling characteristics of the new Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabrio. A course on the skid pad, the circular dynamic surface on which lateral acceleration is tested, among other things, is available for this purpose. But we want to drive precisely. Because that's exactly what Porsche is all about. Always. And especially in 911. Mark Webber briefed his team: "Gaze guidance, turn as round and clean as possible, keep the foot on the gas pedal." Clear announcement. What does he mean by that? He'd best just demonstrate it himself. One round to warm up, then one round "with the foot on the gas pedal". Webber always looks where he wants to go, uses the pedals in the footwell to dose throttle and brake like a piano player and controls the 911 Cabrio with just a few precise steering movements. The pylons set the beat, the lines determine the rhythm. It's a little like dancing. The 450 hp and 530 newton metres in the 911 convertible are unquestionably sublime anyhow.

After that, driver change. Now Webber is the co-pilot, helps with line finding, gives tips for the right braking point. To remain in the picture of dancing: at least once I step on the feet of my "partner" a little tactlessly, take a penalty time of three seconds for driving over a pylon. But at the finish line, Webber says: "Good job, mate!" Not good enough, I'm afraid. Team Kern is a bit faster. That Webber himself is also barely beaten by his colleague Kerner he takes professionally. At least on the outside. We have to do with ourselves, because we have to face the insight that we encounter in a Porsche from time to time: it wasn't the car that was not right, nor the coach. There's only one left...