The Taycan has set the first electric production car benchmark at the 7.7-kilometer (4.78-mile) GT Circuit layout at The Bend, the second-longest permanent racing circuit in the world behind the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Porsche Track Experience Chief Driving Instructor and former Bathurst 1000 winner Luke Youlden was the driver behind the wheel for the lap time, setting a benchmark of 3:30.344.
“The lap time of the Taycan just absolutely blew me away,” said Youlden. “You drive it in a similar way to any other Porsche sports car. The turn-in, handling and acceleration were outstanding. The power out of the corners is definitely where it makes up a lot of time.” For comparison, Youlden also set a time of 3:22.066 in the new 911 Turbo around the 35-corner circuit on the same day, a time that set a new production car lap record for the GT Circuit.
An electrifying new lap record
The Bend Motorsport Park, Australia’s newest racing circuit, does not sit naturally in its landscape. That’s not a criticism: the circuit itself superbly follows the natural contours of the land on the limestone plains, rising and falling gently across the rolling hills. But the size and modernity of the facility stands out in contrast to the arid surroundings of the plains of the Coorong district.
The same could be said for the Porsche Taycan Turbo S. Porsche was never going to do things by halves when it came to introducing its first full EV. But the standard to which it immediately jumped was so impressive that in many ways it presents just like The Bend; a vast leap into the future. It seemed sensible, then, to join the pair in a bid to demonstrate just how good a four-door, battery-powered sports car can be around such a challenging circuit. And so it came to be; a Taycan Turbo S ready to attack what is the second-longest permanent racing circuit anywhere in the world, The Bend’s 7.77 km GT layout, with the sole objective of seeing how fast it could go against the stopwatch.
The challenge? Set a new EV lap record on what is arguably the mini-Nürburgring of the south – albeit with more run-off and fewer trees. Performance Porsches already have a history on The Bend’s long track. In 2018, MOTOR Magazine brought a standard 911 GT2 RS and a decidedly non-standard racing driver in the form of Supercars and GT ace Warren Luff to set the first-ever outright record for a production car at the venue. Their result was a lap completed in a shade over 3:24.00.
Now comparing a Taycan to a 911 GT2 RS, the most extreme road-going Porsche available in recent times, might be like comparing apples to a coffee mug, but actually the raw performance specifications aren’t that different. So, while it’s not a direct comparison, there would be plenty of interest in what kind of time the Taycan would produce, relative to its only real known competition. To help the process, Porsche’s Chief Driving Instructor Luke Youlden was placed behind the wheel; there's no one better to demonstrate the surprising performance of the Taycan Turbo S.
“To drive, the Taycan is not too dissimilar to a petrol-driven car: it’s unbelievably dynamic,” said Youlden. “Even though it [the Taycan] is a little bit heavier, the batteries are very, very low so the centre of gravity is extremely low, which obviously makes the handling and the braking exceptionally good.” The former Bathurst champion’s assessment of the car’s strengths would become apparent the moment he launched towards the first turn.
Conditions were perfect for such an exercise
Blue skies and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit were close to perfect for producing ultra-quick lap times at a circuit where the weather conditions can play a substantial role in changing the ultimate lap time. For a car as substantial in size and weight as the Taycan, at least relative to the lighter and nimbler 911, the way the car devoured the 35 corners The Bend has to offer was nothing short of remarkable. Immense torque on instant demand made it particularly strong when firing out of the many tight and twisty sections on the back part of the circuit.
It’s a credit to the chassis, suspension and electronics that the Taycan Turbo S has the grip to make use of all that torque. The center of gravity sitting low in the car saw The Bend’s fast sweepers and rapid direction changes handled with aplomb, while the 161 mph top speed was more than enough to deal with situations where the steering wheel was straight. The outcome? Impressive. Staggering, even. A lap time of just over 3:30.00 – or just eight seconds slower than the new 911 Turbo achieved on the same day.
“To be that close to the old GT2 RS lap record around here? Unbelievable. It’s extremely fast. We did repeated 2.5 seconds 0-100 kmh (62 mph) runs in this car and that sort of feel off the corner was also where the Taycan makes up most of its lap time. It’s unbelievable,” Youlden beamed afterwards. More impressive was the fact that the lap record came in the same week as an intense series of driving duties for the Taycan, as it was placed in the hands of some of Australia’s top automotive media for an on-track demonstration of its prowess. Despite repeated high-performance launches to demonstrate the remarkable launching ability of the car, as well as hot laps driven only the way journalists can when they’re looking to analyze every aspect of a car’s behavior, the Taycan rose to the challenge. And then went and set a lap record that others will almost certainly find exceedingly difficult to beat.
You may notice that the video of Luke's lap displays a time of 3:30.320, while the press release states a time of 3:30.344. A timing device in the car, linked and synched to the GoPro recording the in-car vision, did indeed record a time of 3:30.320 - thus why this time appears in the video. But a separate recording device in the car for the lap, the one agreed prior to the lap time attempt to be the 'official' lap timer, recorded a 3:30.344, so this is the time agreed with The Bend as the first EV lap record for the GT Circuit.