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(LEFT) Holbert Racing’s
962 takes the win at
Daytona in 1986. It
would repeat the
following year. In all,
962s won five Daytona
24-hour races. Joest’s
956, chassis No. 117,
won Le Mans in 1984
and ’ 85 (BELOW), with
Klaus Ludwig heading
the driver lineup on
Because its driver’s feet were ahead of the front axle
center line and because it ran a twin-turbo engine, the
956 wasn’t eligible for IMSA GTP racing. So Porsche
introduced the 962 at the end of 1984, with a longer
wheelbase and a single-turbo, 2.8-liter flat-six (increased
to 3.2 liters in mid ’ 85 to match up to the TWR Jaguars).
Mike Powell/Getty Images
If the 962 had a weakness, it was a lack of stiffness in its
aluminum monocoque. Several teams built their own,
including Al Holbert’s eponymous squad. Its 962-HR1
won 11 races, including the 1987 24 Hours of Daytona,
two IMSA GTP drivers’ titles (’85-’ 86) and the ’ 87 makes’
titles, running first in Lowenbrau colors (ABOVE),
before switching suds to Miller for an ’ 87 swansong.
WEC HIT-RATE, ’82-’ 85
OWNING LE MANS
Indy car engine — now switched to gasoline
from methanol — and hence the open-top
936 had one last hurrah at a race it had
already won in 1976 and ‘ 77.
This engine would be carried over into
the 956, but Singer is at pains to point
out that work on the Group C coupe did
not begin until after Le Mans that year.
“We already had the draft regulations
“We had no idea how to (make
a monocoque); all we had were
photos of Formula 1 cars”
rest of the car was new.”
Very new for Porsche, because Singer
knew that the 956 had to be built around
the company’s first monocoque.
“There were certain safety requirements
that we wouldn’t meet with a tubeframe of
the necessary weight,” he explains. “Plus,
to get the stiffness required for a ground-
effect car, we had to have a monocoque.”
Porsche knew what it had to do, but not
how to do it. Singer’s team approached
aircraft manufacturer Dornier to advise
on the technology for building a sheet
aluminum monocoque, but when it came
to ground-effect Porsche was on its own.
“We had no idea of how to do it; all we
had were photos of Formula 1 cars,” he
explains today. “We were learning as we
went along in the wind tunnel.”
Less than eight months after the green
light, a first 956 took to Porsche’s Weissach
test track. Days later, it was testing at Ricard;
weeks later it was racing at Silverstone,
and months later it was winning Le Mans.
And a decade later it was still winning,
proving that Prof. Bott was right all along.
...and of the 7 of 36
races Porsche didn’t win,
the factory cars didn’t
appear at three and two
were shortened events.
28 Group C cars started
Le Mans in 1984. 14 were
956s and one was a 962.
Oh, and a 962 started in
the IMSA GTP class, too.
and started doing some sketches in July,
but we didn’t begin to design it properly
until August 1,” he remembers. “That’s
when we got the go-ahead because, in
those days, that was when the financial
year began at Porsche. We knew we had
a good engine because we’d already won
at Le Mans and it had been designed for
prolonged high-speed running, but the
Long before running Audi’s factory Le Mans assaults, 956
privateer Joest Racing was a thorn in the side of the works
Porsches, winning Le Mans in 1984-’ 85 with the same car,
chassis No. 117 (BELOW), thanks to superior fuel mileage.