The cars that made history – Porsche 962
- one of the most victorious cars in the history of endurance racing
- one of Norbert Singer's great creations
- winner for 9 years
This year's edition of Estoril Classics will feature three units of one of the most iconic and successful endurance cars - the Porsche 962C; a car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times.
There are many protagonists in the world motorsport's history, from drivers to personalities who changed the landscape, but the car that Porsche built specifically for American racing is unavoidable in the narrative of endurance racing.
From 7 to 9 of October at Autódromo do Estoril, all motoring fans have a good opportunity to see up close an icon of endurance racing on the track.
The Porsche 962 was born from the 956, a model that the German brand conceived for the new FIA regulation Group C racing, having Norbert Singer's new creation debuted at Silverstone in 1982.
With an aluminium chassis powered by a 2.65-litre 'Flat-6' turbo engine and a deep 'venturi' the new Porsche for endurance racing quickly took over as the yardstick from which all other cars were measured, monopolising the top step of the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1982 to 1985 inclusive.
IMSA GTP regulations differed from Group C and subsequently the 956 was banned in the US series on safety grounds as the driver's feet were ahead of the front axle center line. Norbert Singer was forced to go back back to the drawing board. To make the 956 eligible under the new IMSA regulations, Porsche extended the 956's wheelbase to move the front wheels ahead of the pedal box. A steel roll cage was also integrated into the new aluminium chassis.
With competition rising in intensity, the German wizard fitted an evolution of the original engine, with its capacity increased to 3.2 litres, while maintaining the supercharging.
Of course, the car was a success and was also introduced in the World Sports Car Championship, continuing the hegemony that Porsche against Lancia, Sauber Mercedes, Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota.
In the sports field, the 962C, as the version which ran in the 'World Cup' was known, made a strong mark at Le Mans and in the championship.
At La Sarthe, the German car won the 1986 and 1987 editions. In the World Manufacturers Championship from 1985 to 1987, in twenty-nine races, the 962C won thirteen, which clearly shows the competitive capacity of the car designed by Norbert Singer.
The 962 would have one last gasp at Le Mans.
The ACO reintroduced the possibility of GT cars being able to compete in its race in 1993 and Jochen Dauer had introduced a road-going version of the 962 the same year, which under the new regulations was not competitive in the French race due to excessive weight and too-small restrictors.
Porsche, sensing the opportunity, had only to take Dauer's car and fit it with narrower tyres and a restrictor, which would still be larger than that used by the 962C competition car, to return to La Sarthe. With the support of Joest Racing, a team close to the German marque, Porsche put two Dauer 962s on track for the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The 'Porsche GT' was not the fastest car on track, but with a larger tank than the LMP1s, it gained a lot of time in the pits, winning the great French classic. The model created by Norbert Singer thus secured its ultimate triumph in the world's most important endurance race, nine years after its track debut.
In its time, the 962C never raced at Estoril circuit, although the Portuguese track was part of the provisional calendar of the World Endurance Championship in 1986, as the opening race, something that didn't happen.
Estoril Classics is the chance for all fans to catch a glimpse of one of the most iconic cars in Le Mans and Porsche history with Nicolas d'Ieteren, Hans-Jörg Hübner and Lars Erik Nielsen driving 962 models in the Group C Racing event.
The success of the Zuffenhausen car went beyond the racetrack and it was a resounding commercial success as an estimated 91 chassis were built, with 75 sold to private teams.
Some of these privateers made extensive changes to the 962C, such as Kremer who used a carbon chassis to replace the aluminium one. Two of the cars that will visit us are Kremer modified models run by the German outfit in Le Mans in 1990 and 1991. The most recent one has a carbon monocoque dressed in black and red, symbolising the partnership with Yokohama. The third car is on factory configuration, having been one of the last built by Porsche.
As usual, tickets may be purchased through the official Estoril Classics website, and also physically at FNAC, Worten, El Corte Inglês and CTT Correios, being that, as it is public knowledge, the number of tickets is limited to the physical space of the paddock of Auódromo do Estoril.