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Martini Porsche 935

An Adult Porsche-In

by Derek Freathy

Reading Jem's tale of derring-do with Roger Clark reminded me of a similar experience with two great gentlemen of motorsport, Jacky Ickx and the irreplaceable Ronnie Petersen. We were at Brands Hatch, tyre testing for the 1,0000km race. Jacky was the lead driver for the Martini Porsche team, and was dishing out punishment to our rubberware in the magnificent 935. Towards the end of the day, he invited me to experience at first hand the forces our tyres had to endure. The 935 had been temporarily fitted with a passenger seat for a press day; I had my trusty Bell helmet in the boot; it seemed the stars were aligning for an interesting day.

Strapping in, I felt the first stirring of butterflies. The teenage dream Escort RS2000 of the time developed 100bhp. The burble behind my head grunted with the power of more than six of them. Jacky asked me if I was comfortable.

"Fine thanks!"

"Your straps are too loose then." He gave them a tug and I heard ribs creak. He blipped the throttle and the whole car jerked as he engaged the gears.

You're probably imagining face-crushing acceleration. Well, no, it was actually quite gentle. I began to relax; nothing to it. This lasted all the way to the end of the pit lane.

Back then, the distance from the pit exit to Paddock Hill Bend was maybe a hundred yards - roughly the distance it takes for a Martini Porsche to accelerate from 30mph to warp factor three. By half way round, my eyeballs were threatening the integrity of my skull, and the damned thing was still accelerating. Then came the climb up Pilgrim's Rise and we really got going. The entry to Druid's quelled my fears about remaining among the sighted. My eyes weren't going to become a gooey coating somewhere around my cerebellum after all. No, now it seemed likely that they'd fly out and hang like half-finished dreadlocks down the outside of my helmet. This bloody car could stop even faster than it could go.

By half-way round the first lap, the only thing more eager than me to leave the vehicle was my lunch. I was already exhausted from preventing my head being ripped off by the insane level of lateral gee. How was Jacky coping? I glanced to my left. He was sitting comfortably, clearly relaxing into the daily routine. He saw me looking and the corners of his eyes told me he was grinning. He held up a thumb and may have asked if I was okay, though the noise from two feet behind us would have silenced a Hawkwind concert.

And suddenly, I realised I was okay. In fact, I was better than okay. A lot better.

Derek Freathy and Ronnie Petersen

Three laps in, I decided to get cheeky. I gestured to Jacky that he should go a bit quicker, as if that were possible... Oh, it is. Both hands took the wheel and his head came forward slightly. The look in his eyes changed subtly, and the Porsche did that trick that the Enterprise does when Mr Sulu makes the stars go all blurry. When we finally cruised into our box, Jacky had put us within half a second of the eventual pole position time - two-up and without qualifying tyres.

As I emerged, somewhat shakily, from the Porsche, I saw Ronnie heading for the BMW CSi in the next pit. "Hi Derek," he grinned and gestured to the 800hp monster. "Keep your hat on. Now you come out with a quick driver!

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