As the Dauer Porsche 962 LM GT celebrates its 25th anniversary (1994-2019), PORSCHE ROAD & RACE looks back at how this car came to exist at all.
It wasn’t built in the spirit of the regulations ACO race director Alain Bertaut argued, as they tried everything in their power to get the car outlawed. But the Dauer Porsche 962 LM GT was built to the letter of the law. Porsche engineer, Norbert Singer, had spotted a loophole in the regulations that allowed just a single road-registered car to be built in order to qualify for the GT1 class at Le Mans in 1994, and the Dauer Porsche would work perfectly.
Here is an extract from our interview with Hurley Haywood:
But why use the 962 chassis which, by 1994, was more than a decade old? The idea to create a roadgoing 962 was born in Jochen Dauer’s mind as early as 1991. Dauer picks up the story, “Everything was finished and we wanted to show the car in Geneva in ‘93. But then the guy at Zakspeed burnt all the moulds so we had to start again from scratch. But we finished the car at the last minute, just in time for the Frankfurt Motor Show where we had a big presentation, and from this day on, everything went in the right direction.”
1993 Frankfurt Motor Show
In order for a car to be deemed road legal, it had to be shown at an international car show, and so the display at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1993 was crucial. The price tag of DM 1.725-million, which was in excess of US$1-million, was beyond the reach of most folk back then, but Norbert Singer saw it differently. Porsche had last competed at Le Mans in 1988 with an official factory team, and the only race car they had available with which to compete in the French race was the 911 Carrera RSR 3.8. This was of course a strong GT contender but the factory would not be able to contest an overall win with that model.
The Frankfurt Motor Show is one of the world’s biggest motor shows, and most of the motor manufacturers take the opportunity to introduce their latest models there. It is not uncommon to find elaborate and impressive displays there, with numerous celebrities on hand to bring some additional glamour to the occasion. The Dauer stand was no exception, and being a racing driver himself, Jochen Dauer was able to call on some well-known names to attend his unveiling. “There was my friend Henri Pescarolo and also John Winter who drove for Joest Racing. In Frankfurt, all the manufacturers want to have a big opening presentation and everybody was very busy. The guy who was making our presentation was wondering if in fact we would have a car to present because he was there one day before and there was no car! But the car came at 08h00 in the morning and our presentation was something like 10h00. It was on the limit, but in the end the presentation was wonderful,” Dauer added laughing.
Dauer 962 LM GT development
The eight months between the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1993 and the Le Mans 24 Hours in June 1994, was a busy time. After Frankfurt, Dauer took his 962 road car off to the Dubai Motor Show, an operation made easier by Porsche’s Finance Chief, Walter Gnauert. Porsche was sending a batch of the new 993 models to Dubai for their show, and adding the Dauer 962 to that list was relatively easy. It was while he was at the Dubai Motor Show that Jochen Dauer received a phone call from Norbert Singer requesting him to attend a meeting at Weissach once the Show was over. From Dubai, both Dauer and his 962 road car were flown to Weissach where the idea to modify the car was tabled.
It had also come to Norbert Singer’s attention that the McLaren F1 was being prepared for racing, and being powered by a naturally aspirated BMW V12 engine, against which the 911 would be hopelessly outclassed. “We knew there was some strong competition coming, like the McLaren. They were planning to run this car at Le Mans in 1994 I think, and we saw no chance with the 911-based car. So that’s why we approached Dauer who had a GT car, it was on show [at Frankfurt] and you could actually buy it, but there was nobody there who could afford that price,” Singer pointed out.
Norbert Singer went on, “Dauer spent a lot of money making a road car, which he presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show. This was actually a point of regulation, it had to be shown at a motor show. He wanted to have a race car homologated for the road, one that met all the road homologation requirements such as emissions control and noise et cetera, but it should still have the race engine. I had a look at it, and it was really nicely done.” Unfortunately, Dauer did not have the resources with which to finish the 962 LM GT, and so when Norbert Singer saw the car’s potential, he stepped in to finish the road car and get it homologated.
It is not for nothing that Norbert Singer is regarded as one of the finest engineers ever to walk the paddock of Le Mans. When Singer studied the regulations in 1993 for the GT1 class at the ’94 Le Mans race, he observed that the ACO only required a single street-legal model to be produced in order to qualify for the class. That would seem to be relatively straightforward then, as the street-legal model already existed, but to make a race car that could contest for overall victory at Le Mans from a street-legal version, between December 1993 and June 1994, was quite a challenge.
On the plus side, the ACO wanted to move away from the prototype style of race car, in favour of GT cars, and in an effort to sweeten this move they sought to decrease the performance of the existing prototypes and to increase that of the GT cars. This meant that the performance gap between the GTs and the prototypes would be narrowed by way of the regulations, reducing the development work Singer would have to do make the Dauer 962 LM GT competitive for overall honours.
Jochen Dauer told the author in an interview, that after the car was delivered to Weissach, it remained there where the homologation process was then completed for street use. Dauer again, “There were some changes required by the ACO in Le Mans, and we had to change the double wing on the car and it needed a rear bumper in order to get it homologated. But, we made the homologation deadline on the very last day in Weissach with Norbert and with Alain Bertaut from the ACO.”
All the body panels were produced by Lola Composites in Huntingdon. Every week, Jochen Dauer and Norbert Singer flew to Huntingdon to check on the progress at Lola. “My chief engineer was Wiet Huidekoper, he was the key person on the whole project, and he worked closely with Norbert Singer. Norbert took the model to the wind tunnel for testing, but the aerodynamics and everything was done by Wiet Huidekoper. We crashed tested the chassis with the crash box, which we had also made, so we were really 200% satisfied. But, for sure, we were the only road legal GT car,” Dauer explained.
The GT1 class of car permitted a maximum tyre width of just 14 inches, which would have the effect of making the car faster in a straight line, but slower around corners. Making the car slower too, would be the flat-bottom requirement, as ground-effect bodywork had been ruled out with the demise of Group C at the end of 1992. But, as Singer correctly predicted, the 120-litre fuel tank would mean fewer fuel stops than the prototypes with their 80-litre tanks. This would make the GT1 cars quite competitive for overall honours, and so a plan was hatched and presented to the Board for approval. In January 1994, the decision was taken to prepare and enter two Dauer 962 LM GTs in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The 1994 Le Mans 24 Hour race
Here is an extract from our interview with Hurley Haywood:
Although the Dauer 962 LM GT was raced as a works car, the way that it was entered for the ’94 Le Mans 24 Hours was somewhat tricky. It was essential to call the car a Dauer 962, as Jochen Dauer had applied to have it road registered, thereby qualifying the car as a street legal 962 GT. However, Porsche had last raced at Le Mans in 1988, and as such did not hold the correct racing licence in 1994. In this respect, it was Joest Racing who entered the car for Le Mans that year. Porsche mechanic, Klaus Bischof clarifies, “Sometimes we used Joest for the documents because we needed a licence, but it was a Porsche, and it was raced by the Porsche factory team. But you must use the Dauer name also because it was written this way in the documents for the street version. We didn’t race the whole season, so we did not have a company licence for racing. So, Dauer was the man who had the street license, but the racing licence to run as a team was owned by Joest!”
The 62nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours was held over the weekend of 18-19 June 1994. In an attempt to bolster the grid numbers, and to provide an exciting racing spectacle, the ACO allowed the older Group C cars to compete but they had to have a flat underfloor (no ground effects floor). These cars would run in the Prototype 1 class, but they had their fuel tank capacity restricted to just 80 litres, while the GT1 cars had the much larger 120-litre tank. The ACO’s aim was to lower the performance potential of the LMP1 cars and to increase that of the GT1 cars. This had the effect of narrowing the gap between the two classes and encouraging the GT1 cars to push for overall victory, as GTs were the class of the future.
Fastest in qualifying was the #2 Courage-Porsche in the LMP1 class, but the prototype cars were always going to be quickest as they were lighter and the smaller fuel tank would not hamper them during the relatively short qualifying session. The two Dauer Porsches were placed in fifth (#35) and seventh (#36) place on the starting grid. In the early stages of the race, the battle for the lead was between the fast prototypes, the #5 Kremer-Porsche K8 (Derek Bell) and the #2 Courage-Porsche (Alain Ferté). Hans Stuck (#35) momentarily pushed his way forward into second place but then spun, although he was able to regain several places when the LMP1 cars began their refuelling stops due to the smaller tanks.
Although the Dauer Porsches held a 1- to 2-lap per stint advantage over the Prototype cars, they were unable to build up a sizeable lead. Danny Sullivan in the #35 Dauer Porsche also spun when he suffered a deflated tyre, and unfortunately this happened just after he had passed the pit entrance, so he was forced to travel almost the full length of the circuit at a crawl. The #36 Dauer Porsche then had problems with its half-shaft which was losing grease. These events allowed the two Toyotas to romp into the lead followed by a pair of Courage-Porsches. Behind this foursome came the two Dauer Porsches having recovered from their woes.
When the #1 Toyota began to consume brake pads at an alarming rate, the #4 Toyota was promoted into the lead until a strong diff vibration delayed the Japanese car in the pits for an hour. As dusk fell, veteran Bob Wollek took the #4 Toyota into the lead. This yo-yoing of positions continued between the Toyotas and with the #4 car being repaired, the #1 Toyota once again took the lead. But just when the two Dauer Porsches seemed to be getting into their stride, the #35 car of Stuck/Boutsen/Sullivan spun again, but this time it knocked the front nose-cone off. This is the nature of Le Mans, and teams and drivers know to expect the unexpected.
Early on Sunday morning, Mauro Baldi took the #36 Dauer Porsche into the lead, but in a moment of mid-morning confusion, both Dauer Porsches came into the pits at the same time. The resultant delay caused by this misunderstanding allowed the #1 Toyota to take the lead, but alas, not for long as the car stopped at the pit entrance with a broken gear shift linkage. Fortunately, the driver was able to jam the car into a gear and crawl to his pit garage. This allowed the #36 Dauer Porsche of Baldi/Dalmas/Haywood to retake the lead, a position which it held to the end of the race. Meanwhile, Eddie Irvine jumped into the #1 Toyota, now in third place, and giving it everything he had, he grabbed second place when the #35 Dauer Porsche of Stuck/Boutsen/Sullivan was baulked by a slower car two laps from the finish. This opportunistic move by Irvine prevented Porsche from enjoying a 1-2 finish at Le Mans, but first and third for two GT cars was not a bad result considering.
The winning #36 Dauer Porsche 962 LM GT of Baldi/Dalmas/Haywood took the chequered flag by the margin of a lap from the second placed Toyota, which had the #35 Dauer Porsche hot on its heels. Interestingly, the fastest race lap was set by Thierry Boutsen in the #35 Dauer Porsche, a GT1 class car, ahead of the much faster prototypes.
This victory gave Porsche its thirteenth Le Mans title, and with it the legendary 956/962’s seventh Le Mans win. This was the highest tally of Le Mans 24 Hour wins by any single model of race car in the history of the event. What a fitting end to a twelve-year history of extraordinary achievements!
“The Dauer 962, which the Le Mans people didn’t really like, was to the letter of the regulations and out of this we developed a GT 1 car and the first idea was to have it closer to the road car. When you look at it, we had actually three years with the GT 1,” Norbert Singer confessed laughing.
Porsche’s Klaus Bischof said, “We owned all three cars but Joest had always in his contract, also when he was at Audi, that if he wins Le Mans that he gets to keep the winning car, that was his prize. But Joest sold the Dauer 962 to his sponsor, the owner of FAT, immediately after the race.”
Following the car’s Le Mans success, Dauer Sportwagen subsequently sold a dozen 962 road cars. “In 1997, we achieved a speed of 404.6 km/h for the first time with our road car at Ehra-Lessien test track at Volkswagen,” Jochen Dauer added.
Without any shadow of a doubt, in the 25th anniversary year (1994-2019) of the Dauer Porsche 962 LM GT, the admiration and recognition of the achievements by this great race car are deserved as much today as they were back in the day.
Technical specifications: 1994 Dauer Porsche 962 LM GT
|Engine||6-cylinder boxer, Type 935/85|
|Bore x stroke||95.0 x 70.4 mm|
|Power output||700 bhp @ 8200 rpm|
|Torque||495 lbs. ft @ 6000 rpm|
|Valves||4 valves per cylinder|
|Turbos||2x KKK K27.2 exhaust gas turbochargers|
|Restrictors||2x 37.1 mm|
|Intercoolers||2x charge-air intercoolers|
|Gearbox||5-speed synchronised, Type 956|
|Top speed||204 mph (328 km/h)|
While the race car shown in the images above is liveried in the colours and numbering of the 1994 Le Mans winning car, this actual car carries the chassis #962 LM GT 001. This was in fact not the actual race winning car as we have explained above, that car went to Joest Racing. This car did, however, participate in the 1994 Le Mans Test day on 8 May that year, but during the event it broke its crankshaft. It has subsequently been restored and liveried up to look like the winning car for display purposes in the Porsche Museum.
Written by: Glen Smale
Images by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale and Porsche Werkfoto