Porsche Battles Ferrari in Top Gear Late Braking Challenge

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Can the Ferrari GTC4Lusso get to a higher speed before braking than the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo?

Think of one of your automotive fantasies. Perhaps you have an entire runway to yourself and you get to drive an exotic car, such as a Ferrari or Porsche, down it as fast as you can. Now imagine the worst possible ending to that scenario: flying off of the end of the runway at more than 150 mph and into a body of water, then dying a watery death. That’s basically what Top Gear‘s Late Braking Challenge is. In other words, it’s exciting and terrifying.

Matt LeBlanc explains it to his co-host Chris Harris. “Fast as you can get before you have to hit the brakes. Loser is the one who goes slowest or ends up in the sea and drowns.” From the looks of things, speed shouldn’t be a problem. LeBlanc has a Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Harris gets to use a Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. The biggest variables should be braking power and the amount of nerve each driver has.

6speedonline.com Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Late Braking Challenge

LeBlanc sets off first in the Ferrari four-seater. It may look unusual, but its acceleration is typical Ferrari – as in rapid. LeBlanc keeps his right foot down to let the 6.3-liter V12‘s 680 horsepower and all-wheel drive pull him farther and farther down the runway. The speedometer soon reads 100. Then 130.

6speedonline.com Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Late Braking Challenge

Nearly 50 mph later, LeBlanc calls it. “One seventy-seven, I’m braking.” With the liquid horizon looming large ahead, he stays on the left pedal. There’s noticeable brake dive as he comes to a stop yards from the end of the concrete, but in this case, that kind of dive certainly beats the alternative.

Without knowing which speed he has to beat, Harris engages the Sport Turismo’s launch control and fires it and himself toward the finish line. The g-force from the 550-horsepower twin-turbo V8 unloading through all four wheels make his eyes go wide and presses him back into his seat. As if the look on his face doesn’t say it all, he exclaims, “Launch control. That’s fierce!”

It’s not enough for Harris, though. He pulls out all the stops. “Little bit of a secret weapon here. I’ve got 20 seconds of overboost here in Sport Response mode.”

6speedonline.com Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Late Braking Challenge

Despite Harris’s best efforts, the Sport Turismo is not able to overcome the huge power deficit between it and the Ferrari. It can only get to 165 mph. The other problem is that Harris starts to brake later than LeBlanc. He comes to a stop a few feet ahead of the Ferrari…and a few feet closer to the gap between two poles at the absolute end of the runway surface.

6speedonline.com Ferrari GTC4Lusso and Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo Late Braking Challenge

In the end, rules are rules. Harris wasn’t going as fast as LeBlanc when he hit the brakes so he loses the challenge, even though he started braking later than his co-host. But he didn’t die in a fiery crash or at the bottom of the sea, so he can put that in the W column.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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