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Porsche 956/962 at Le Mans – Logistics Part II

The race winning #3 Rothmans 956 of Vern Schuppan/Al Holbert/Hurley Haywood
Le Mans 24 Hours, 18-19 June 1983: By midnight, the #3 Rothmans 956 of Vern Schuppan/Al Holbert/Hurley Haywood was leading the field by a lap after a seventh place start on the grid. With just an hour to go and with Holbert behind the wheel, the lead looked secure until a door flew off down the Mulsanne Straight necessitating a replacement. The airflow over the body to the left side radiator at the rear was affected and the engine began to overheat, and Holbert had to nurse the ailing 956 around the 13 km track once more. When the #3 Porsche crossed the finish line, Derek Bell was just one minute further back proving that nothing is assured at Le Mans until the chequered flag has fallen

In 1982, Porsche introduced the Type 956, the race car manufacturer’s entrant in the newly created Group C racing series which commenced that season. The new car scored a second place on its debut at Silverstone that year, and followed this up a month later with a clean sweep of the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The rest, as they say, is history as the 956 and its modified brother, the 962, went on to amass a total of 232 international victories. The factory raced both the 956 and 962 variants from 1982 until 1988. Porsche’s customer teams could only get their hands on the 956 as from 1983, but from that season until 1994, the customer 956s and 962s scored victory after victory. In this feature, Porsche 956/962 at Le Mans – Logistics Part II, we look at what it took to get these race cars to the track, and what logistics were involved at Le Mans.

The #16 John Fitzpatrick Racing Skoal Bandit Porsche 956 of Edwards/Keegan/Fitzpatrick
Le Mans 24 Hours, 18-19 June 1983: Spitting fire, the #16 John Fitzpatrick Racing Skoal Bandit Porsche 956 of Edwards/Keegan/Fitzpatrick finished fifth overall

Norbert Singer, retired Porsche race engineer, recalled with some humour, “People used to say to me that in those days, the cars were much simpler, and therefore we didn’t need computers. We certainly didn’t have any computers to develop the car and we also had no simulations, but we had a slide rule! Of course, there were some calculators that could add or divide some numbers, and they could perform the four basic functions, but to do more complicated calculations, you had to use a slide rule.”

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