I drove a respectful 100m away from the checkpoint before pressing the ‘sport’ button which sharpened the throttle response and stiffened the suspension before flooring it. The Porsche flat-six behind me cleared its throat and delivered all the 400 bhp I asked for…. the road which was quite narrow and consisted of one lane in both directions at this point, undulated and wound its way across the fabulous, eerie landscape. As I approached the first bend, a 90 degree, medium radius bend, I hit the brakes hard, wiping off 50 mph in a matter of a 20-30 meters and triggering the ABS. The brake pedal pulsed under my right foot, warning me that we were at the limit of adhesion on this hot, sandy piece of tarmac. I threw the car into the bend using the throttle to balance the car through the corner, and as I powered out of the corner, there was a brief flicker of the stability control warning light as the electronics quelled the corner-exit oversteer….fantastic!
Into the following straight and I could tell I had hit the mountain road proper. Three lanes of the best, smoothest tarmac you will find anywhere in the world and I could see other supercars cars coming down the mountain towards me. An R8, Mercedes c63 AMG and a late model BMW M4 flashed past as I approached the next corner. This time is was an uphill 180 degree hairpin which I negotiated at what felt like walking pace. And on an on it went. Get onto the straight, sometimes the straights were not exactly straight, I was on a a mountain road after all, accelerate hard, slow down for the next corner, try to judge the minimum safe speed to negotiate whatever corner the road throws at you while all the time climbing higher and higher into the skies.
There are a few viewing points along the way, and I stopped at two of them. I am glad I did because the vistas are breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles and words cannot really do justice to the views from these points.
I continued up this fabulous mountain road as fast as I dared. Driving at these speeds on an unfamiliar mountain road with this many corners and with a sheer drop on one side requires maximum concentration. Make one mistake here and it could easily be the last mistake you make. I pressed on towards the top, passing a few cars while trying not to think of the consequences of getting it horribly wrong. And that is what makes driving on such roads so special and so exhilarating. It is the challenge of walking that fine line between excitement and disaster and I must confess, I am totally addicted to such challenges.
I thankfully got to the top in one piece and parked up with the adrenaline pumping. What a drive! What a road! What a car! This is why roads were made and this desert mountain road, with an average gradient of 5.3% is one of the best roads on the planet. As I reflected on the drive, I was actually grateful that I did not get either of the two supercars that I had wanted for this drive. You see, those cars would have been harder to control and would have made the journey up an unfamiliar mountain road that much hairier as they had a surplus of power. The Porsche 911 Carrera S had just the right amount of power to make for a thrilling drive while retaining a larger margin of safety.