The 1994 Carrera RSR3.8 entered the pits at Le Mans. Raymond Bellm, Harry Nuttall, and Charlie Rickett started 25th on the grid in GT2 class but a mechanical failure retired them after just 32 laps. Porsche ArchivThis was Porsche’s 911 GT2 Rennversion that utilized a much taller wing than earlier versions starting in 1995. By 1998, this car offered racers 485 horsepower from its 3.6-liter RSR engine in a car weighing 2,464 pounds ready to race. Porsche Archiv BPR’s international endurance series had been a group of races without championship points in 1994. It had matured in 1995, taking on a new name, the Global Endurance Series, with points attached. Porsches remained popular, and Daytona saw a range of 911s from best-finishing Jochen Rohr’s GT2 led by veteran Hurley Haywood (fourth overall) to a half-dozen 3.8 RSRs, and down to a 993 Supercup that finished 24th. When the series reached Europe for the BPR rounds, the McLarens arrived and Porsche settled for a series of seconds, thirds, or sixths throughout the season. Even the arrival of the 911 GT2 Evo in midseason only meant Porsche briefly held pace with other evolutions. During the long series of North American IMSA events and following a rules mashup at Daytona that excluded Porsche’s World SportsCar WSC95 entry, Porsches kept to themselves in Supercar contests.
Until Le Mans in 1996, Porsche’s 911 GT2 Evo models held up the company honor throughout the BPR European events, though now not only were McLaren F1 GTRs leading them, but also Ferrari F40 GT-E models gave them fits. In France in June, Reinhold Jöst’s Le Mans Prototype WSC95 Spyder (that Daytona disallowed 16 months earlier when Tom Walkinshaw entered it) came back, updated and upgraded, and won the 24-hour enduro. Porsche’s brand-new 911 GT1s finished in second and third. The factory left its privateer GT2 entrants to contest the rest of the year, though the GT1 belatedly joined the series at Brands Hatch where it won, repeating at Spa and Zuhaï.
Nothing succeeds like success, and for Barth, Peter, and Ratel that meant their absorption into the FIA for 1997. Peter left, but the FIA asked Barth and Ratel to stay on. There were many motives for this consolidation, not least dwindling crowds as Formula One in Europe and NASCAR in the States pulled sponsor and spectator audiences away by the tens of thousands. Another factor influenced the FIA/BPR merger. Despite best efforts by BPR’s founders, their series became the opposite of its original intentions of racing cars derived from series production. The rules that permitted only a single GT1 road car turned things on their head and Porsche was first violator. Their 911 GT1 was always a full-on race car from which they worked hard to devolve a single road legal variation. The Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR in 1997 put a fine polish on that technique. These unobtainable prototypes marginalized the privateers still supporting GT2 and GT3, but as racing historian Janos Wimpffen explained, most of them “simply wished they could buy customer versions of cars like the 911 GT1 and that the factory teams would go away.”
At Daytona and Sebring, the prototype-like WSC cars claimed top honors while fastest among production-based sports cars went to 911 GT2s from either Fabian Roock’s or Jochen Rohr’s teams. World Sports Cars remained a North American series while in Europe the FIA GT championship season debut at Hockenheim witnessed six 911 GT1 cars chasing three McLaren F1 GTRs across the line. This was not a bad Porsche performance considering that five of the six entries were private teams who took delivery of their cars earlier that week. At Silverstone a month later, the factory-entry GT1 came fifth behind three McLarens and a Mercedes CLK. The good news was that Fabian Roock’s GT1 followed a factory McLaren across the line for second place and a spot on the podium.In the race shops at Weissach, mechanics and engineers assembled the customer racing 1997 GT1 models. Engines in these cars developed in excess of 600 horsepower for an automobile weighing just 2,310 pounds. Porsche Archiv Le Mans in June 1997 provided an almost instant replay of the 1996 finish when Jöst’s oneyear- older WSC95 took overall honors from a McLaren less than a lap behind after 24 hours. Porsche GT1s finished fifth and eighth while the factory car succumbed to fire when a ruptured oil line sprayed the engine and ignited at speed on the Mulsanne. At the Nurburgring four-hour race two weeks later, 911 GT1s finished 8th, 9th, 10th, and 12th behind Mercedes and McLarens. A new factory-entered GT1 Evo gave McLaren and Mercedes a run at Spa, but it still could do no better than third, the car’s best finish so far. It never got better than that, although that finishing order happened once again. At season end, Porsche finished in fifth place in manufacturer points.Into the pits on Saturday evening before the long Le Mans night, GT1 Race number 26 had begun to collect dirt along with miles. The next afternoon, co-drivers Allan McNish, Stephane Ortelli, and Laurent Aiello won the race, completing 352 laps and covering 2,975.8 miles. Porsche ArchivCustomer racing staff assembled 911 GT3 Cup cars. These 360 horsepower cars weighed 2,464 pounds and Porsche assembled just 30 of the 1998 Cup cars. Porsche Archiv Weissach engineer Roland Kussmaul anticipated better results from the 30 Supercup cars he developed in January 1998, cars officially named the GT3 Cup. Similar to the 964 and 993 versions, these 996 editions were stripped and lightened to 2,515 pounds. The new water-cooled engines developed 360 horsepower at 8,000 rpm. Patrick Huisman, who won the series in 1997 in the last of the 993s, repeated again in 1998, and then 1999 and 2000 as well. Jörg Bergmeister took the title in 2001 and Stephane Ortelli snatched it from him in 2002.
Racing year 1998 saw new series emerge and disappear in Europe while power plays for supremacy in the United States confused entrants and spectators whose response was to not support anybody. At Daytona, then part of the SCCA United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC), Gianpiero Moretti’s Ferrari 333SP outsped Jochen Rohr’s 911 GT1 Evo by eight laps to win. Sebring, part of the IMSA’s World Sportscar Championship, saw Moretti repeat, but Dave Maraj’s GT1 Evo finished one lap behind and just behind him came Don Panoz in his GTR-1. More importantly, racing year 1998 saw Porsche’s 911 GT1-98 appear. It was all-new, Porsche’s first carbon-fiber tub. It was much less like a 911 than the previous years’ car had been. At Oschersleben near Stuttgart, a race sanctioned as part of the FIA’s GT Championship, Porsche debuted the car, though it followed three Mercedes past the checkered flag. One month later at Silverstone for the next FIA event, three new 911 GT1 98s finished second, third, and fifth, interrupted by two Mercedes.
Of course, no matter what any racer says, it is Le Mans that every driver and manufacturer works to win. Against a full complement of GT1 competitors, Porsche had its share of skill and luck, and both factory GT1 98s took top honors as Allan McNish led teammate Jörg Müller (one lap behind) across the finish line in formation. There were no further GT1 98 victories, though McNish accumulated a collection of second, third, and fourth place finishes through the season as he copiloted one or the other factory car. In the end, despite winning Le Mans, it was a frustrating season for Porsche as it finished second in FIA GT1 behind Mercedes entrant AMG.
It is a well-known story what happened inside Weissach soon after. With FIA regulations due to change again, Porsche chose to sit out the 1999 season while it developed a new car for the year 2000, a new open-top sports racer for the Le Mans Prototype-1 category, LMP1.Accelerating out of Laguna Seca’s hairpin turn number 11 during the 2004 ALMS race, Mark Leib and Romain Dumas exchanged duties holding off Corvettes, Ferraris, and Aston Martins. Leib/Dumas won GT class in their GT3 RSR, finishing eighth overall. Porsche ArchivFROM LMP TO SUV? NO, TO C-GT!
In the mid-1990s, Herbert Ampferer had worked for Horst Marchart on a secret project to develop a 3.5-liter V10 for Formula One following the disappointment with the 12-cylinder engine for Footworks Arrows. Then he, as an engine designer, and Norbert Singer supervised GT1 racing operations. Together they achieved Wiedeking’s goal to win Le Mans in 1998.
“Then one day, we had to talk to Wiedeking after Le Mans 1998,” Ampferer said. “‘What’s now?’ Mr. Wiedeking asked.
“Well, for ’99 the time is too short and it’s too tight of budget. But for 2000, that would be something. New car, new engine. [New regulations.] The V10 Formula One, the carbon chassis from 98? But 3.5 liters is not enough for Le Mans. And an engine that was designed for two hours or three hours is not good for 24 hours. So you need to do something new,” Ampferer added.
“We redesigned it from 3.5 to 5 liters. We took out the pneumatic valves and used standard spring valves. But other considerations on a modern V10 engine, V-angle, torsional vibration of the crankshaft, of cam drive, gearing systems of cam drive, the cams themselves . . . if it works for a Formula One engine for 15,000 revolutions for two hours, it should work for a Le Mans engine, which runs at about 8,000 rpm. So we just took it as it was. Increased the displacement. This was the V10 for Le Mans. Same length because the cylinder bores were the same, the camshaft was the same, but different deck heights because we increased displacement.
“A Formula One engine of the day had a stroke of 40 millimeters. But it has a bore of maybe 95 millimeters. If you increase the stroke up to say, 70 millimeters, you have something like growing from 3.5 to 5 liters.
“But we did not go to Le Mans. The car was ready, but we did not go.
“We talked with Wiedeking. He said, ‘Nice car, the race car.’ But he asked me: ‘What difference does it make if Porsche goes to Le Mans and wins 17 times instead of 16 times. It’s another Le Mans win? Who is next to us?’” Ampferer told him it was Ferrari with eight wins.
“He asked me another question: ‘What do you think we are as Porsche? Are we the sports car manufacturer in the world?’ Back in 2000, there were rumors and stories from other OEMs making supercars. Enzo, McLaren SLR,” Ampferer said.
“’We are the sports car manufacturer, and these are sports cars they are talking about. So we need a sports car like that. What do you think? Should we do that instead of Le Mans? Doesn’t it make more sense than to go once again to Le Mans?’
“And I had to agree with him. Yes, yes sir. It was hard. Because it was a really good race car.”
Test drivers had set lap records at Weissach. Some said that only recently has anything gone faster. “But on the other hand, having something as a vision in front of me, which was a super sports car, was good too,” Ampferer said.
The super sports car reached the market in 2004 as the Carrera GT.Patrick Long, Richard Lietz, and Raymond Narac raced at Le Mans in 2008, driving their day-glow painted GT3 RSR. They retired after an accident in the night. Porsche Archiv With the introduction of the 997 in 2004, Weissach again turned its attention to Cup cars and it turned out 170 of them from late 2005 into 2006. The IMSA GT3 Cup series was the destination for 40 of the cars, while the remainder stayed in Europe for Supercup entrants racing in support of the F1 events and for the national Porsche Cup races across seven nations. These cars delivered 400 horsepower at 7,300 rpm. For the 2008 season, output rose to 420.
For 2009, Porsche cleared a long-anticipated hurdle, increasing displacement on its racing engines to 3,996cc with bore and stroke measuring 102.7x80.4 millimeters. With air restrictors required for FIA events, this four-liter output was 450 horsepower at 7,800 rpm for its most potent GT3 RSR models. Power reached the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. Weissach delivered 214 of the 420 horsepower GT3 Cup cars and Cup S versions (for FIA GT3 endurance events) throughout the world. Of this quantity, four went to the SCCA Speed GT Championship in support of the ten-event American Le Mans Series.Pike’s Peak veteran and television director/cinematographer Jeff Zwart broke the “Time Attack” class record in his 2010 GT3 Cup car. Zwart has taken seven titles in twelve attempts. Dave Engelman/Porsche Cars North AmericaPorsche’s most startling race car concept, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid, debuted at Nurburgring 24 Hours. The hybrid system used energy collected in braking to spin an “electric flywheel mass battery,” which drivers then called on to return equal energy to electric motors inside the front wheels. Porsche Archiv