THE UNDERDOG HAS ITS DAY
Lightning doesn’t strike twice, or so they
say. It did at Daytona in the early
noughties. Dodge and the French ORECA
team did the unthinkable and beat the
prototypes in 2000 (see page 64) and
then Corvette Racing, the narrow loser in
the first year of the decade, flew the flag
for the GT brigade 12 months later.
Once again it was Dyson Racing that
led the way for the prototypes, still armed
with its venerable Riley & Scott MkIII. This
time it was a massive 27 laps ahead when
the pushrod Ford motor gave up with just
three-and-a-half hours to go.
Step forward the Chevy Corvette C5-R
of Ron Fellows, Franck Freon, Chris Kneifel
and Johnny O’Connell to rumble to a win.
This one was a real race of attrition.
When the GTS class Chevy moved to the
top of the leaderboard an hour after the
Riley retired, it enjoyed a lead of 19 laps
over its nearest pursuer, a Porsche
running in the baby GT class. That
explains why the winning car spent a half
hour in the pits in the closing stages, but
merely adds to the surreality of the feat.
Porsche claimed a 14th outright Le Mans
victory with a racer-turned-road
car-turned-racer. But the Porsche
962-based Dauer 962LM wasn’t
conceived to beat the real prototypes
entered in ’ 94, only to win the GT class.
Its conception was based on a piece of
misinformation. Porsche was
preparing to race an updated
version of the GT class 911
Turbo S LM, but there was a
problem – at least in the mind
of Porsche research and
development boss Horst
Marchart. It was called the McLaren F1.
Marchart had heard that McLaren
was preparing to take its new BMW-
engined supercar to Le Mans and asked
Porsche design legend Norbert Singer if
his latest 911 derivative could beat it.
The answer, after an inspection of a
McLaren road car, was in the negative.
Singer turned to a road-going version
of the 962 that Jochen Dauer had
shown at the ’ 93 Frankfurt auto show.
Marchart gave the go-ahead, and the
car was homologated and
prepped in just three months,
ready to take on the fictional
The two Dauer 962LMs
weren’t as quick as the
Courage or Toyota
prototypes, but they were reliable. When
the last pure racer hit problems with
90 minutes to go, the 962LM of Mauro
Baldi, Yannick Dalmas and Hurley
Haywood inherited the lead and the win.
2001 ROLEX 24
1994 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
“Sitting there waiting for the race to finish didn’t feel right,
but there was no reason to take chances,” said Ron Fellows,
one quarter of the winning Corvette lineup, afterward.
“That was one of the strangest races I’ve ever done.”
Few involved at Daytona in 2001 would argue with that...
PLAYING A WAITING GAME
Conceived to take on
McLaren assault at
Le Mans in 1994, the
Dauer 962LM (LEFT)
wasn’t invited back in
’ 95 – the year when
the McLarens did
actually show up and
dominate the race...
(See page 64.)
With the new-for-2003
class struggling for
speed, reliability and
entries on its Rolex 24
debut, the stage was set
for a GT car to take an
upset win. Step forward
The Racer’s Group and
its GT2 class Porsche
911 GT3-RS (ABOVE).