Why would hundreds of Porsche owners bring their toys to a dead end tucked in an industrial neighborhood of Los Angeles on a Sunday morning under threatening skies? The answer? The common love and respect for the air-cooled engine that powered every Porsche model from the company’s inception until 1998.The event was called Luftgekühlt which means “air cooled” when translated from German. The hosts, designer and artist Howie Idelson and current Porsche factory race driver Patrick Long, came up with the idea while brainstorming about what they’d like to see in a car event.Manicured acres of lush green golf courses? Sterilized displays behind ropes? Exclusive admission to select invitees? Nope. The vision involved a lot more grit and a very intentional nod to design using the iconic air-cooled Porsche as a common thread.Modernica, a furniture factory and warehouse in Vernon, provided a 5 acre venue for the third edition of Luftgekühlt. A mix of asphalt pavement and working warehouses provided the texture and setting for the hundreds of Porsches that descended on the property. Prior editions were held in Venice at Deus ex Machina (a global design shop focused on surfing, motorcycles and bicycles) in September 2014 and Bandito Brothers (development of films, television shows and documentaries) in March 2015. Deus ex Machina is now a partner in the effort and future events might be outside the US.For the window shopping Porsche enthusiast, attendance offered a wide selection across the hundreds of cars parked around the grounds. Some were thematically arranged and others were less so. Huge kudos to those who woke up early, tidied up their cars, and finished off bits of mechanical maintenance to make it to the show. Attendees brought quite the range.Clearly Patrick and friends had done a lot of smiling and dialing to encourage attendance from particular people and cars. Their work paid off handsomely and was augmented by many others who just wanted to join the fun.Looking for time capsule early 356 models that would compete for honors at any concours in the world? Check.Looking for examples of almost every air-cooled 911 model ever offered for sale? Check.Looking for models dripping with patina looking like they’ve just been recovered from a forgotten barn? Check.Looking for the lovingly customized, but thoroughly outlaw? Rod Emory brought a whole fleet of 356 models that met that criteria alone. Check.Looking for two different Singer Porsches, the pure expression of one person’s vision of the best aspects of every 911 model combined with cutting edge carbon fiber and Cosworth influence? Looking for the Bahama Yellow 1969 911E that Singer founder Rob Dickenson and TRE Motorsports built that served as the inspiration for the Singer project? Check and check.Looking for full representation from the R Gruppe – whether formal members or inspired by the concept? Check.Looking for specialist cars from Ruf? Some full Ruf versions and others with Ruf wheels? Check.Looking for the outrageous fender flares of a Rauh Welt Begriff Porsche? They may not be to everybody’s taste, but there were four versions on site. Check.Looking for a supercar? The Porsche 959 was water cooled, but a white example of the 1980s icon got a pass from its air cooled brethren and greeted visitors as they entered the grounds.Walking around, one knows that many of the cars have their own unique stories and history. In some cases, that history might have been the story of acquisition, restoration and thousands of miles. In other cases, the story was one of particular historical significance of a very small production run, racing pedigree, or noteworthy owners. At some point, there is a degree of guilt when realizing that you just can’t do justice to each car and each story. Any one of a long row of cars could be a star at any other car show. The mind can only handle so much at one time.The parking lots at some events rival what’s inside the formal boundaries of the event and this was definitely one of those. Your humble scribe may have wandered the parking lots for about an hour before finding the way inside the gates in the company of many goodies, Porsches and otherwise.Perhaps one of the most impressive things was the breadth of the people in attendance. Kids were welcome and common. Younger Porsche enthusiasts rubbed shoulders with more seasoned students of the marque. Owners opened up their cars and readily answered questions.Ropes or barriers were nowhere to be seen. This despite the presence of unobtanium like Jeff Zwart’s 1949 Porsche Gmund coupe – the very last car made in Gmund, Austria before Porsche moved to Stuttgart?Yes, there were various celebrities and people well known within the hobby mingling among the crowd and cars, but the knowledgeable crowd tended to focus on noteworthy cars. Some cars are well known by Southern California residents as they are seen at weekend get-togethers, canyon runs, and cars and coffee events. Others are famous because of builds and restorations documented on the internet.One such car was a safari rally project car based on a 1985 coupe donated by Patrick. A variety of shops and vendors contributed to construct a unique car that was auctioned off for charity during the event. There had been significant advance social media coverage of the project and a large crowd gathered to watch the car find a new buyer for the tidy sum of $275,000.The event was not a concours or a competition. There were no prizes for cleanest, most original, or anything else. It was just a simple and pure concept very well executed. The organizers had to be very pleased (and likely overwhelmed) by the support and participation. They will take a breath and think about planning the next one at some point. Keep an eye out and add it to your calendar.
Doing some preparation for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and ended up with a bit of an overview/preview. The more one looks, the more interesting angles there are to the race. While prototypes may be the fastest and most likely to compete for top honors, the story for the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours is the GT cars. Opinions on that score may vary, but it still is a compelling race even if your view differs. 2016 is the last year for the Daytona Prototype formula as we know it and the Prototype Challenge class is usually more of an intramural affair. The driver line-ups in the big prototype cars are impressive but much of the chatter revolves around what 2017 will bring in that class.
Why is GT the story? New cars in both GTLM and GTD, teams changing cars, and drivers changing teams and cars. We’ll get to GTLM in a moment, but this is the first race with the full GT3 specification available to customer teams in IMSA.
There are 22 GTD cars on the preliminary entry list. Sadly, the AMG GT3 and the McLaren GT3 offerings are not in the field but Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Dodge Viper, BMW and Aston Martin provide the variety.
Times looked reasonably tight at the Roar with most cars within a second of each other. Clearly that is only testing and Daytona is a unique track, but the GT3 platform and prior balancing experience helps to keep things tight. Perhaps most interestingly, however, the sector times from the Roar appear to show that different cars make their speed at different parts of the track – even among similar manufacturers. For example, the #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini was very fast in the infield and slowest on top speed but the #11 O’Gara Motorsport Lamborghini showed almost the opposite.
IMSA was watching as well and issued an Adjustment of Performance bulletin on January 21, 2016 with tweaks for every car in the GTD field. The Aston Martins got the most help with the new Audi R8 LMS and the Lamborghini Huracan losing performance in the form of weight and restrictor.
It still is a bit of a shock to look around at all the change in GTD. Five Lamborghinis? Magnus in an Audi? Stevenson appearing with no Camaro, but rather two Audis? Bell and Sweedler moving to an O’Gara Lamborghini from Scuderia Corsa and then Neilsen moving from the TRG Aston Martin to take one of those vacant Ferrari seats? Kuno Wittmer moving from the TRG Aston Martin to the GTLM BMW? Pumpelly released from Park Place Porsche and landing with Change Racing in a Lamborghini? World Challenge Cadillac ace Andy Pilgrim released and landing alongside Patrick Long, Nicky Catsburg and Tim Pappas in a Porsche? What about seeing ex-Falken GTLM Porsche drivers Sellers and Henzler in GTD with Sellers in the Paul Miller Lamborghini and Henzler in the Team Seattle Porsche? Arguably, the defending GTD winning Viper team has the most stability in terms of car, driver and team. Alex Job would also be a strong bet with his deep experience and talented driver squad and a brand new 991GT3R.
Dark horse? Hard to call the Frikadelli Porsche a dark horse with so much experience at the Nurburgring and talent in the driver’s seat, but this will be their first race away from home. Daytona is much different – arguably much less perilous than the Nurburgring in terms of traffic, weather, bumpiness of the track. They did very well at the Roar so keep an eye on the Queen of the Ring and her team.
GTD is likely to be slightly slower in 2016 than 2015 due to the greater downforce and drag on the cars. Fastest race lap in 2015 was about 1:47 compared to a fastest Roar time of about a second slower, but the field may be tighter in 2016. We’ll also have to wait and see what impact the Adjustment of Performance will have.
The big off-season story in IMSA is clearly the appearance of the Ford GT program with Ganassi Racing. The two car team will be part of an 11 car GTLM field. That means there will be 33 GT cars on the grid of the total 54 entries – about 60% of the field. It is a good time to be a GT racing fan.
The driving line-up in the Ganassi entries is stellar – perhaps rivaled only by the line-up in Ganassi’s prototype cars, but that’s a separate story. Porsche brings two revised 911RSR cars back along with BMW with two brand new M6 cars (in place of the now-retired Z4 platform) and Corvette with two cars. Scuderia Corsa, who ran two Ferrari 458 entries in GTD in 2015, splits their effort for 2016 with one car in GTD and another in GTLM. Scuderia Corsa joins SMP Racing and Risi Competizione with the brand new 488 GTE platform for the car’s first outing. The car is so new that Risi shook its car down at the factory before shipping it to Miami to have it delivered directly to the track in the days prior to the race.
2015 saw some epic battles in GTLM, so what did the Roar tell us about 2016? Who knows? Nobody has any faith that any of the times were representative of anything. (For example, the two Porsches were together at the bottom of the chart with the two new BMWs closer to the top.) With that said, however, times were all within a second and, like the GTD cars, different cars appeared to make time in different parts of the track. The Fords had a few incidents at the Roar which caused damage and cost time, so the Ganassi team will be hoping that the test got the accidents out of their system.
The Adjustment of Performance Bulletin on January 21 also contained from presents for the GTLM class with changes to boost ratios, fuel capacity and refueling flow restrictors. Nobody has any incentive to show any more cards any earlier than is necessary.
Corvette and BMW finished one-two in 2015 on the same lap – no reason to think that 2016 won’t be just as close. The BMW is a new platform, so reliability is the big question for that team. The winning Corvette is back with Magnussen and quiet fast guy Garcia. Factory Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller joins in place of Ryan Briscoe who moved to the Ford GT program.
One potentially interesting angle worth watching during the race is the gaps between GTLM and Prototype Challenge. While the GTLM cars are likely to be three to four seconds a lap faster than the fastest GTD cars, the gap could be minimal to the slower PC cars – particularly when the full factory hotshoes are in the GTLM cars and the amateur drivers are piloting the PC cars. It wouldn’t be surprising to see GTLM cars making some aggressive moves to avoid getting held up. The GTLM cars appear faster in a straight line, but the PC cars are more nimble in the twisty bits.
In some ways, the Prototype class looks like the most stable class, but there are a variety of sub-plots to watch. Michael Shank wants badly to taste success with his P2 car, particularly has he prepares to make a run at the 2016 24 Hours of LeMans. His P2 has been fast, but sometimes fragile. Amateur John Pew has continued to get faster, but he’s still in a class going up against full professionals. Teammates AJ Allmendinger, Oz Negri, and Olivier Pla (now released from factory Nissan duty) will likely keep this entry at the sharp end of the field.
ESM will have its own P2 in the field. ESM and Shank were at the top of the charts at the Roar, but the bulk of the prototype class was only separated by about a second. The Ligier P2s were rewarded with additional weight via an Adjustment of Performance while the SMP team got a modest weight break.
In other news, the Ganassi team has two strong cars with fairly strong driver lineups. Austrian and recently retired WEC driver and F1 veteran Alex Wurz makes his Daytona debut along with factory Porsche driver and new Ford GT WEC driver Andy Priaulx. Young Lance Stroll completes the line up as the weak point – less experienced than the others by far (as perhaps evidenced by his crash on cold tires during the Roar). The other Ganassi car is the defending race winner – the Indy/NASCAR entry with Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson. Enough said. Two strong bullets in the Ganassi gun.
Mazda may be one of the more interesting stories in prototype after dropping the diesel engine in favor of a two liter inline four cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine. The team maximized the potential of its prior diesel, but making a racing engine out of a production diesel engine was a tall ask. Over 4000 miles of testing and a very strong showing at the Roar suggests this team may have some promise in the race. Mazda has a lot of history at Daytona and 2106 is the 25th anniversary of its famous overall win at LeMans. If the new Mazda engine can stay reliable in its debut, the young quick drivers like newcomer Spencer Pigot and his all American fellow drivers can be a threat.
Scott Pruett moves down pitlane to join the Action Express team in search of yet another Rolex 24 victory. Action Express has had a lot of success over the past several years and the team of Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albequerque and Joao Barbosa will likely run a steady and brisk pace with the goal of staying close at the end and then going racing. This car finished second in 2015 and would like to move up a step on the podium.
The VisitFlorida team is all different with Ryan Hunter-Reay joining Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goosens in the Corvette DP. The team finished third in 2015 with a completely different set of drivers. (Rockenfeller will be running with the Corvette squad and Richard Westbrook joined the Ford GT program, both in GTLM. Michael Valiante appears not to have landed a seat – at least not yet.)
Taylor Racing sees no changes, but perhaps spent some time in the off-season focusing on the driver time calculator after running into problems late in the 2015 Daytona 24 hour race costing the team a podium finish.
The plucky Delta Wing appears to have found some funding and assembled an interesting driver squad. The car showed well at the Roar, the fastest in the infield sections of all cars. Mechanical gremlins in the gearbox have sidelined the car in previous endurance events, so reliability will the biggest challenge.
Russian SMP Racing brings their BR01 chassis which is another interesting story, but more about them further below.
The headline for PC is the same as usual – fast enough to mix things up, but not fast or reliable enough to challenge for the overall. In 2015, the top PC cars finished 8th and 10th overall. CORE looks to improve, bringing back most of its driver lineup and looking to experienced engineer Jeff Braun to help steer the ship.
Times within the class are likely to be variable and the margins between cars and lap times wider than other classes. Remember also that the GTLM cars may be mixing it up amongst the PC cars with the PC cars stronger in the infield.
The two Starworks entries from Peter Baron, the CORE entry, and the PR1/Mathiasen defending class winner have the depth and experience to be the strongest. CORE in particular has several years of consistent strength. Others may have spurts of speed and could make things interesting but the pace at the Roar suggests that they’ll have a difficult task.
What else to watch?
European Teams on the Entry Again
In the 1980s and 1990s, European teams would often head to the US for the Daytona 24 and Sebring 12 hours. They bulked up the fields, added some additional flavor, and brought interesting cars. There was a lot more overlap in those days with the 24 Hours of LeMans. Without revisiting all of the gory history of Grand-Am and American LeMans Series, the European presence at Daytona has been sparse for the last decade plus.
The presence of teams and people like Franz Konrad will be a welcome sight. Franz is no stranger to Daytona and is bringing two GTD Lamborghini entries. While it seems a little odd to see the Konrad colors on anything other than a Porsche, he does have modest history with other marques including a brief dalliance with a Lola prototype and Saleen S7-R. (If memory serves, the Lola had a spectacular engine failure at the Rolex 24 in 1999 and retired early to the garage.)
As noted earlier, the German Frikadelli team is making its first visit beyond the Ring. The fastest meatball in the world started a Twitter account during the roar and quickly amassed several hundred followers. The team is such a sensation on home soil, they may relish the chance to race slightly outside the spotlight. Sabine Schmitz is certainly well known to Ring fans and Klaus Abbelen (a butcher, business man who has the meatball connection), but the rest of the drivers include Frank Stippler, Patrick Huisman and Sven Müller. Huisman and Stippler are well known but young Sven is a driver to watch. He is a Porsche factory Junior driver and has run German Carrera Cup, Supercup and WEC races. Another reason to keep an eye on Frikadelli as a potential threat. With perhaps the most interesting combination on the entry, Russian SMP Racing will be running a BR01 Nissan powered P2 prototype in the top class and a Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTLM class. This will be the IMSA debut for the BR Engineering prototype, but the team has run at Daytona previously. In 2014, they finished fourth in a Ferrari 458 run in cooperation with the ESM team. The 488 program will be run with partner AF Corsa who has plenty of experience with the GTLM class and Ferrari GT cars in general. The driver line-up may not be familiar to US fans, but Andrea Bertolini and Viktor Shaytar won the GTE-Am class at the 2015 24 Hours of LeMans (and Shaytar won the championship in class). They’ll be joined by Gimmi Bruni who has three LeMans GT class wins to his credit since 2008 and is generally synonymous with Ferrari GT racing over the past 8 or 9 years. Brit James Calado rounds out the driving strength, bringing years of single seat and AF Corsa Ferrari GT racing experience along with him. If you’re looking for a GTLM darkhorse, the SMP Ferrari 488 entry may fit the bill.
The team may run at Sebring as well, but has not yet announced their intentions. The prototype will be obsolete after 2016 with regulation changes, so hopefully the team can get the most mileage and racing activity out of the chassis while it can.
Long term forecasts are fickle, but there aren’t a lot of indicators of anything other than an average January Florida weekend. Mid-60s F during the day, high 40s F overnight, and no major rain to be seen. Given the IMSA weather experience in 2015 at places like Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta, average would be just fine.
Outstanding Driver Combinations
There is an impressive list of drivers from multiple disciplines and multiple places and some really impressive combinations of drivers in cars. There are experienced veterans and fresh novices. There are sportscar specialists and those that make their living in other forms of motorsport or even outside motorsport in the case of some of the amateur drivers.
Some drivers have already seen action in 2016 at the Dubai 24 and a handful will head from Daytona straight for Australia to run the Bathurst 12 hour.
Lots of Reasons to Watch
A total of 54 cars with two-thirds in the GT classes. Some very close times within classes and intriguing overlap between classes. A chance to see how changes of drivers, cars and teams work out. Potential spoilers in the form of teams like Mazda who have been patient and hungry and are ready to play at the front of the field. Stellar drivers with remarkable backgrounds. New hardware like the Ford GT and BMW making their race debut. Factory efforts like Porsche looking to erase the memory of a difficult 2015 race. Cars with strength at different parts of the track could make for interesting battles as the advantage ebbs and flows.
As usual, full coverage from the Radio LeMans team via IMSA Radio. Many teams and drivers on Twitter and other social media combined with outlets like Dailysportscar.com make it easier to keep up with events. Doubtless many more reasons to watch, but those ought to be enough for any motor racing fan. Enjoy!
Photo credits: IMSA, BMW, Porsche, Mike Hull, ViperExchange, Shank Racing, Mikhail Aleshin, CORE, Wayne Taylor Racing, Action Express Racing, Risi Competizione, Konrad Racing
Last in our series (at least for now) of Porsche RS Spyder chassis features is 9R6-704. This chassis started life in the hands of New York-based Dyson Racing in IMSA competition. Dyson ran the car in 2007 and 2008. Drivers in 2007 as #16 were primarily Andy Wallace and Butch Leiztinger with guest appearances from Andy Lally for the longer races at Sebring and Petit LeMans. The 2008 schedule found Marino Franchitti taking over for Wallace with Leitzinger and guest Lally remaining as the car ran with #20. The best result for the Dyson team was the second place overall at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring. Other finishes flirted with the podium, but the team faced stiff competition from Audi for overall victories and Penske Racing for LMP2 class victories. [Side note: Dyson also ran 9R6-705 in 2007 and 2008. It ran as the #20 in 2007 and #16 in 2008. The car suffered a crash at Lime Rock in 2008 which required a new tub. A tub that would have been chassis 713 is believed to have been used as a replacement for 9R6-705. The story of Dyson’s fraught race at Lime Rock which resulted in accidents for both Porsches and the very quick repair job to make the race in Mid-Ohio two weeks later is here. The new tub was flown in from Germany and delivered straight to the Mid-Ohio paddock on Wednesday before the race where the Dyson mechanics completely rebuilt the car. There is some confusion whether the rebuild was for 9R6-704 or 9R6-705, but the pieces appear to point to 9R6-705 as the chassis with the new tub.]At the end of 2008, the car was sold to Greg Pickett and Muscle Milk Racing. Muscle Milk ran a partial schedule in 2008 with outings at Mid-Ohio, Road America, Petit LeMans and Laguna Seca. Greg Pickett and Klaus Graf split the duties at most of the races with Sascha Maassen driving at Petit LeMans. 2009 saw another partial season with five outings. 9R6-704 won the LMP2 class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and then claimed an overall victory at Lime Rock in the car’s last race in July. Pickett and Graf again did most of the 2009 driving with Maassen and Memo Gidley joining where needed. As always, grateful thanks to Racingsportscars.com for full race results of each chassis. Link to 9R6-704 here.
At Rennsport Reunion IV at Laguna Seca, the car was on display with the Porsche Motorsport North America Vintage support program. Difficult to think of the RS Spyder as “vintage”, but in 2011 it was several years removed from active motorsport competition and cars were in customer hands. 9R6-704 did not run at Rennsport IV, but was on display only.
The car found its way to Bruce Canepa’s hands and he listed it for sale in mid-2014 – the listing is gone, but a large photo album is still on Canepa’s website. (The original listing is replicated here on Flatsixes.com.) It moved to the Gunnar Racing stable in mid-2015, just in time for the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca in September 2015.Gunnar Jeannette drove the car and showed very competitive pace in qualifying before a wiring harness problem intervened and prevented the car from making the race.The photos are a mix from Rennsport Reunion IV and V. Enjoy!
Team Essex, a Danish team owned by Peter Halvorsen, provides the next in our series of Porsche RS Spyder reviews – this time we have chassis 9R6-709. Team Essex had a history of running in the Danish Touring Car championship with periodic entries in prototype sportscar running. For the 2008 season, Essex joined other privateer teams like Van Merksteijn and Horag/Lienhard to purchase and campaign Porsche RS Spyders.
The new Team Essex car was unveiled in December 2007 in blue livery. It ran in 2008 in the blue color before changing to green in 2009 (more on that later).
Dane John Nielsen took his LeMans experience to join the squad to join Caspar Elgaard. Nielsen had significant and successful prototype experience, notably with the Jaguar factory prototype teams and the West McLaren F1-GTR in the FIA-GT series. Nielsen shared a few prototypes with Caspar Elgaard over the years. Elgaard made his name as the five time champion of the Danish Touring Car Championship, but also ran at LeMans in various cars for several years with a third in class in 2007 in an Aston Martin with Larbe. The new Porsche 9R6-709 ran at the March 2008 test at Paul Ricard before making its race debut in April at the 1000km of Catalunya. It finished 9th over all and 3rd in class. (The Van Merksteijn Porsche RS Spyder 9R6-708 won in LMP2 class.) Later in April 2008, the team claimed its first win at the 1000km of Monza with a win in LMP2 class and an eighth overall. The 1000km of Spa saw a third in class with another eighth overall finish. All of the prior running led to the 24 Hours of LeMans in June 2008. The team added driver Sascha Maassen for the endurance event. The car finished second in class (again to the Van Merksteijn RS Spyder) with a 7 lap deficit and 12th overall. The 2008 campaign finished out at the Nurburgring (3rd in class and 10th overall) and Silverstone (5th in class and 12th overall). In September 2008, the team announced that it was ending all motorsport activities. Essex was apparently involved in the property investment business and presumably the financial credit crisis was requiring attention elsewhere. However, the team returned for a LeMans run in 2009. The driving team was comprised of Emmanuel Collard, Caspar Elgaard and fellow Dane Kristian Poulsen. A class win in the lead-up at the Spa 1000km was followed by a class win and 10th overall finish at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Fans used to seeing the traditional blue needed to adjust to the new green and white livery which ran at LeMans in recognition of the partnership with Michelin to raise awareness of the new “Green Challenge”. LeMans was the last competitive outing for the car. While it ran in blue for most of its life, it remains in the green and white colors of the 2009 LeMans class win. Results data courtesy of Racingsportscars.com. The #31 2007 Porsche RS Spyder 9R6-709 appeared at Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca in September 2015. The car is part of David MacNeil’s collection and was driven at the event by son and IMSA GT driver Cooper MacNeil. Cooper wheeled the car to a second place in the Group 6 race at the event, behind another RS Spyder.
Next in our series of Porsche RS Spyder chassis reviews – this time our subject is 9R6-710. This car ran in IMSA competition as a Penske Racing entry in the hands of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard. It contributed to Porsche’s LMP2 manufacturer title in 2008. It ran 10 races in 2008 with success. It won overall in Salt Lake, but also claimed wins and podiums in the LMP2 class. It won in class in its debut at the St. Petersburg, Fl. street course and then again at Mid-Ohio, claimed 2nd in class at Long Beach, Lime Rock, Road America, and Petit LeMans (Road Atlanta). It finished third at Laguna Seca, fourth in Detroit, and sixth at Mosport. Credit and much thanks to Racingsportscars.com for the data, available here. After its competition life, 9R6-710 became one of the few RS Spyders to be retained by the factory. It lives most often in the Porsche factory museum in Stuttgart, but does get out to see the public periodically. In 2014, the car made an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and in 2015, the car was among the group that the factory brought from the museum to Rennsport Reunion V. 9R6-710 did not run at speed with any of the race groups at Rennsport, but did participate in the parade. Thanks much to Klaus Bischof and the team at Porsche for bringing the car to the event. Enjoy the pics.
Time for another set of photos featuring one of the Porsche RS Spyders at Rennsport Reunion V. This time, our feature car is 9R6-711. As far as I can tell, this car had no competition history. It was built in 2007 and served as a backup car for Swiss Horag Racing in 2008 (primary car was 9R6 707). Horag combined with Fredy Lienhard to field a car in ELMS and an entry in the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring. The car was shown for sale via racingcars24.com in March 2009 for €850,000. It was driven at Rennsport Reunion IV at Laguna Seca in 2011, entered by Doran Racing and driven by Fredy Leinhard. Doran and Leinhard have a long history together. In June 2014, the car was acquired by Christian Zugel with support by Gunnar Racing. Arrival video from Gunnar Racing is available here.
Enjoy the pics from Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca in 2015!
Some additional digging around the internet and my files yielded some more things of interest on the van Merksteijn Racing Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708:
Want to see 3+ minutes of Jos Verstappen behind the wheel in 2011 giving the car some exercise? Of course you do:
Photos of the brand new car just after delivery – still in black carbon (credit to Frits van Eldik via story of Anthony Megavand, Feb 11, 2008):
Also found a few photos from Rennsport Reunion IV at Laguna Seca in 2011 from my files – Bruce Canepa at the wheel:
The 2007 Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 708 was purchased with the objective of racing at LeMans. The Dutch Van Merksteijn Motorsport team purchased the car, with owner Peter van Merksteijn spearheading the effort. He added fellow contrymen Jos Verstappen and Jeroen Bleekemolen as drivers and the three shared driving duties throughout the 2008 season.
Peter had done a fair amount of sports car road racing over the years. He had largely run in Porsche GT platforms in events like the 24 hour races at Daytona, Zolder and Spa. In 2005, he ran several races in the Dutch Spyker Squadron car as well. Jos Verstappen is well known from his Formula 1 days, but little (no?) sports car racing before the RS Spyder came along. Bleekemolen had a lot of GT experience, including stints with Jan Lammers and the Spyker program. He obviously continues to operate at a very high level in professional racing, these days in the IMSA SRT ViperExchange program.
The Van Merksteijn team is perhaps better known over the past few years by its rally adventures. The rally cars, like chassis 9R6 708, carry familiar and distinctive purple colors. The car won in class at its debut at the April 2008 Catalunya 1000km race. Later in the month, the car ran at Monza (ironically settling for second place due to crash damage in a meeting with a Spyker) before claiming another class win at the 1000km of Spa in May. Momentum continued into June with a class win at the 24 Hours of LeMans (with a 7 lap gap) and a 10th place overall finish. Bleekemolen had run in several tests with the car, but LeMans was his first race with the van Merksteijn/Verstappen pairing. Not a bad way to make your appearance. Significantly, the win was the first win at LeMans for a Dutch team in history.
Verstappen and Bleekemolen claimed another class win at the Nurburgring while team owner had a conflict while racing in the World Rally Championship. Van Merksteijn returned for the next race and he and Verstappen won in class at Silverstone to complete the car’s very successful competition history with the team. The chassis found its way to Navi Team Goh for the 2009 LeMans 24 hours, but did not finish due to an accident very late in the race. The car’s full competition history is available from the RacingSportscars.com chassis archive. If you’re interested in a book focusing solely on the 2008 campaign, check out Vini Vidi Vici (no affiliation). Chassis 9R6 708 ended up in the hands of Bruce Canepa just a week before the Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV at Monterey. The car needed work, but the original colors were restored and car mechanically prepared to permit it to run at speed during Rennsport. Canepa has the car up for sale (as still seen here in the “used car” section of the Canepa website) and it was purchased in August 2014 by Dan Curry, a customer of Gunnar Racing. At Rennsport Reunion V, 9R6 708 shared paddock space with other goodies from Gunnar Racing – including three other RS Spyders. With all that as prelude, enjoy the pics of 9R6 708 at Rennsport Reunion V! Thanks to Bruce Canepa, Dan Curry and Gunnar Racing for taking good care of her and sharing her with the world.
The Porsche RS Spyder is likely the last prototype that will be built by the Porsche factory, run in private hands in active competition and then sold to private owners. The use of hybrid technology and the relative sophistication of platforms like the LMP1 means that privateers are unlikely to have the resources and depth to maintain and run the cars. The Porsche RS Spyder ran in 2007 and 2008 in IMSA competition in the hands of Penske, Dyson and Pickett Racing.
Chassis 9R6 702 was campaigned by Penske Racing. According to Racingsportscars.com, the chassis claimed IMSA wins at Salt Lake City and Lime Rock in 2007 with drivers Ryan Briscoe and Sascha Massen. Emmanuel Collard joined for the longer race like Sebring and Petit LeMans. In 2008, the car ran as a third car in the hands of Briscoe and Helio Castroneves at Petit LeMans and Monterey. At Petit, the pair won in class (LMP2) with a 4th overall finish. 9R6 702 carries the livery as last run as the #5, showing Briscoe and Castroneves as drivers.
After finishing the 2008 season, the car ended up in the hands of Gunnar Racing and Christian Zugel and ran in several historic events before landing among the cars of the WeatherTech stable of David MacNeil in time for the Porsche Rennsport Reunion V at Laguna Seca. MacNeil wisely installed Jeroen Bleekemolen to pilot the Porsche for the weekend. Jeroen’s day job these days is to drive the Viper Exchange SRT Riley Viper in IMSA competition, but has prior experience in the Porsche RS Spyder. He was on the driving strength for the LMP2 class win in 2008. (That very car – 9R6 708 – was on-site and situated in the Gunnar Racing paddock just yards away from the WeatherTech paddock.)
Back to 9R6 702… The car ran its competitive life in bright yellow DHL colors with Penske Racing in IMSA competition. Bleekemolen drove the car hard at Rennsport rather than putting in leisurely parade laps. In fact, he not only won the Group 6 race, but set the fast lap for the race and the entire weekend. If you want to see the driver’s eye view that Bleekemolen had at the wheel of the Porsche RS Spyder, check out the 14 minutes of fantastic video courtesy of Racer Magazine.
The car is very photogenic, so all of this as prelude to a few favorite shots from Rennsport Reunion V of Porsche RS Spyder 9R6 702. Thanks much to Gunnar Racing and David MacNeil for taking good care of her over the years and bringing it out to run at speed.
If you’ve been paying attention to social media, you’ve seen that some teams have been posting pictures of their brand new race cars as they’re being delivered. The past week or so has seen a lot of new hardware delivered to waiting race teams and more deliveries are coming soon. Some cars are only shown by their teams after they’ve received their new colors, but there is something about the bare carbon presence of a brand new race car. We’ll also be watching for delivery of new customer AMG GT3 cars as deliveries are set to begin in the coming week.
Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan (via Bryan Sellers Twitter)
Team Seattle Porsche 997 GT3 R in the shop and at Sebring (via Ian James Twitter)
Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS at Sebring (via Magnus Rracing Twitter)
Turner Motorsport BMW M6 in Munich (via Turner Motorsport Facebook)
Frikadelli Porsche 997 GT3 R (via Sabine Schmitz Facebook)