Porsche 962, 962 C (1984-1991)

Premiere: February 3, 1984, qualification for Daytona 24H

Le Mans winner 1986-1987-1994


© Porsche
962 (IMSA GTP)962 C (FISA Group C1)
Engines usedflat-6, aircooled, 2 valves per cyliner, single turbo 2.9/3.0/3.2 L
1991: watercooled heads, 4 valves per cylinder, twin-turbo 3.0/3.2
flat-6, water-cooled cylinder heads, air-cooled cylinders, 4 valves per cylinder, twin-turbo 2.6/2.8/3.0/3.2 L
Weight without fuel, without driver850 kg /~1900 lb 820 kg /~1800 lb
Fuel tank120 L99 L (allowed size 100 L)
Dimensionslength 4770 mm, wheelbase 2770 mm, width 1990 mmlength 4770 mm, wheelbase 2770 mm, width 1990 mm
Top speed350+ kph / 218+ mph350+ kph / 218+ mph
Complete cars built by Porscheapprox. 19approx. 54
Cars made by others using own and Porsche partsapprox. 16approx. 37 (including Dauer street and GT1-class cars)

The 956 was not safe enough to be allowed to race at IMSA events, so Porsche created the "American" version of the 956, called the 962. The wheelbase of the car was extended by 4.7"/12 cm for the driver's feet not to extend over the centerline of the front wheels. Other safety measures were carried out with the cockpit and a different engine was installed. The IMSA regulations didn't allow twin-turbo engines, so a single-turbo engine was used.

Aluminium roll-over bars in 956 were replaced with steel bars for 962© Porsche

The 956 and 962 are extremely identical in looks. Only a sharp eye can notice that the nose of the 956 is showel-shaped and a bit longer than the nose of the 962 that is wedge-shaped and a bit shorter. Private teams created their own modifications to the body or even complete new chassis and new body designs. By the Porsche tradition, the cars built for factory team, have the chassis numbers in the form of 9620xx and the cars built for customers in the form of 9621xx. The privately built cars that used 962 components with their own chassis, had their own chassis numbers.

Porsche debuted the 962 in February 1984 at the 24 Hours of Daytona with Mario and Michael Andretti driving the factory car. They started from the pole position and led the race until had to retire due to technical problems. This car, the 962-001, was the only IMSA-962 used by the factory team and was only used once. In additon to the factory team 962-001, in 1984 Porsche produced six 962s for American customers and one Group C1 car. Two private 962s were entered for the 1984 Le Mans. Unfortunately the Swap Shop IMSA-spec 962 (single turbo 2.9) had to retire because of the ignition system failure and the Skoal Bandit 962 C (twin-turbo 2.6) because of the accident. This was the first 962 C, chassis number 962-105. Luckily both teams had 956s, too, that would finish on podium.

962 starts winning the races: 1984 Watkins Glen 6H, Pocono 500 km, Daytona 3H, 1985 Daytona 24H, Miami 3H, Sebring 12H, Mugello 1000 km, Laguna Seca 300 km, Silverstone 1000 km, Charlotte 500 km, Lime Rock 2H, Mid-Ohio 500 km...

For the Le Mans practice sessions in 1985, Porsche ran the fully water-cooled 3-litre twin-turbo with around 515 kW. For the race, they opted for the proven water- and air-cooled 2.65-litre unit with around 470 kW. Despite the factory team participating with the 962 C cars, the 1985 Le Mans 24H was won again by the same team, same car and even one of the drivers as last year - the 956 of New-Man sponsored Joest Racing team. The best 962 scored third driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell. The significance of the #2 car is really great because Stuck drove a qualification lap in 3:14.8 averaging 156.5 mph/251.815 kmh which is an absolute record at Le Mans. 962 was the fastest car for years and later chicanes were added to the main straight, so the record couldn't be broken anymore.

1985 Le Mans 3rd: 962 C (chassis 962-003, twin-turbo 2.6) #2 Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell. In the qualification Stuck drove a lap averaging 156.5 mph/251.815 km which is an absolute record at Le Mans. © Porsche

The 962 is victorious at 1985 Watkins Glen 3H, Hockenheim 1000 km, Sears Point 300 km, Mosport 1000 km, Road America 500 miles, Pocono 500 km, Brands Hatch 1000 km, Columbus 500 km, Daytona 3H, 1986 Daytona 24H, Sebring 12H...

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1986 chart shows the relationship between drag coefficient (Widerstandsbeiwert), downforce (Abtriebsbeiwert), fuel consumption and lap time. Car (3) has the aerodynamics of 1978 (no ground-effect), car (2) is a typical Le Mans car, car (1) has too much downforce for the track as fast as Le Mans© Porsche

The Porsche DoppelKupplung (PDK) double clutch gearbox was first used for racing in 1984 in a 956. Following further tests, in 1986 the 962 C, chassis 962-003, was equipped with the PDK and was even able to chalk up a victory at the Monza 360 km race.

The double clutch gearbox contains two separate clutches and their own gearbox groups. One of the clutches transmits the torque to the odd-numbered gears 1-3-5 and the other to the even-numbered gears 2-4. Two gears are engaged at the same time: the current driving gear and the pre-selected higher or lower gear. The switchover is done by the simultaneous hydraulically actuated opening of the first and closing of the second clutch, therefore the twin-clutch gearbox has no shifting interruptions in normal use. When you need to change two gears at a time, let say from 5th to 3rd, then it takes time as they both are on the same shaft.

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PDK gear change buttons on the steering wheel© Porsche

After Monza and before Le Mans, the 962 brings home more victories: Riverside 6H, Charlotte 500 km, Lime Rock 150 laps...

At the 1986 Le Mans qualification the 962 #2 is fastest with 3:15.990. For comparison, the 962 #3 (chassis 002) is equipped with PDK and the qualification time is 3:25.340, so almost 10 seconds behind. In the night, the race is overshadowed by the fatal accident of Kremer Racing's driver Jo Gartner, who got killed when the gearbox of his 962 broke on Mulsanne straight and locked the rear wheels at full speed. The fastest 962 #2 is also out because of an accident. The 962 #1 was second in qualification, but has to win the race as the racing number suggests and Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell/Al Holbert are up to the task. This is chassis 962-003, the one that won at Monza with PDK, but has manual gearbox for Le Mans. The second place goes to the 962 #17 of Oscar Larrauri/Jésus Pareja/Joël Gouhier (Brun Motorsport) and third place to a 956.

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1986 Le Mans 24H winner: 962 C (chassis 962-003, twin-turbo 2.6) #1 Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell/Al Holbert. The same chassis had scored 3rd a year before.© Porsche
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Pitstop for the winning 962: for quicker refill the empty can is used to let the air escape securely from the tank© Porsche

The racing success of the mighty 962 continues: 1986 Mid-Ohio 500 km, Portland 300 km, Sears Point 300 km, Road America 500 miles, Spa 1000 km, Columbus 500 km, 1987 Daytona 24H, Sebring 12H, Road Atlanta 500 km, Laguna Seca 300 km, Lime Rock 150 laps, Mid-Ohio 500 km...

Like a year before, factory team fielded three 962s for the 1987 Le Mans. Their #19 car was totalled already in the practise, so two were left for the race..

1987 Le Mans practise: Price Cobb's totalled 962 #19

The 962 #18 (Bob Wollek/Jochen Mass/Vern Schuppan) that was the fastest in the qualification retires because of the engine and the second fastest qualifier, the 962 #17 driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell/Al Holbert wins the race. The second place is taken by a Primagaz 962 #72 driven by Jürgen Lässig/Pierre Yver/Bernard de Dryver and third place goes to a Porsche-powered Cougar C20 (also Primagaz Compétition). Stuck/Bell/Holbert win an impressive 260 km ahead of 2nd place. The only margin greater recorded in Le Mans was back in 1927.

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1987 Le Mans winner: 962 C (chassis 962-006, twin-turbo 3.0) #17 Hans-Joachim Stuck/Derek Bell/Al Holbert© Porsche
1987 Le Mans Porsche 962 C #72 Jürgen Lässig/Pierre Yver/Bernard de Dryver
1987 Le Mans 2nd: 962 C (chassis 962-130, twin-turbo 2.8) #72 Jürgen Lässig/Pierre Yver/Bernard de Dryver© unknown (please inform if you know)

More victories are captured with 962: 1987 Norisring 200 miles, Watkins Glen 500 km, Columbus 300 km, 1987 Fuji 500 km, 1988 Fuji 500 km, Sebring 12H...

Despite the 956/962 had been on top for such a long time, Porsche was still confident on its 962 for Le Mans in 1988. And there was the reason to be - the qualification was won by the #17 962 of the factory team. The car was driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck/Klaus Ludwig/Derek Bell and was leading the race, but Ludwig ran out of fuel and lost time in getting back to the pits using the starter motor. Later on, the car was also held up by a clogged fuel filter. The #17 Porsche still scores second. The event was won by a TWR-Jaguar, despite it being 8 seconds slower per lap (qualification result vs. #17 Porsche). The third place went to Blaupunkt-sponsored Joest Racing 962-116 #8 driven by Stanley Dickens/"John Winter"(Louis Krages)/Frank Jelinski.

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1988 Le Mans 2nd: 962 C (chassis 962-010, twin-turbo 3.0) #17 Hans-Joachim Stuck/Klaus Ludwig/Derek Bell© Porsche
1988 Le Mans Porsche 962 C #8 Stanley Dickens/
1988 Le Mans 3rd: 962 C (chassis 962-116, twin-turbo 2.8) #8 Stanley Dickens/"John Winter"/Frank Jelinski© Joest Racing

The 962 is nearing the end of its lifecycle and the victories are harder to come. Still, important races like the 1989 Daytona 24H and Fuji 1000 km are won by 962. The car is too old for the factory team to compete at Le Mans, but private teams field a record of seventeen 962s. Joest Racing 962 driven by Bob Wollek/Hans-Joachim Stuck manages to lead the race for a while, but has a couple of technical problems and scores third as the best Porsche.

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1989 Le Mans 3rd: Joest Racing 962 C (chassis 962-145, twin-turbo 3.0) #9 Bob Wollek/Hans-Joachim Stuck© Porsche

Every 962 victory is an achievement now and so has the 1989 Fuji 500 miles to be mentioned...

1989: Tiff Needell testing the 962 of Richard Lloyd Racing

For the 1990 Le Mans 24H private teams field a new record of eighteen 962s. Right up to the last hour of racing, the Porsche of Walter Brun’s team, with Oscar Larrauri, Jesus Pareja and the team owner at the wheel, are on track for a podium finish, at times even taking the lead, when engine failure sidelines their car after 23 hours and 46 minutes. The 962 C fielded by the Japanese Alpha Racing team with Tiff Needell, David Sears and Anthony Reid, scores third.

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1990 Le Mans 3rd: Alpha Racing 962 C (chassis 962-154, twin-turbo 3.0) #45 David Sears/Tiff Needell/Anthony Reid© Porsche

While the 962 still manages to win the 1991 Daytona 24H race in the USA, the new rules in Europe state 1000 kg minimum weight for turbo-charged prototypes and the 962 is out of competition. The best 962 scores 7th at Le Mans. The winning Mazda with rotary engine has the gearbox from the 962. Again, for the 1992 the regulations are changed and the allowable amount of fuel is dramatically cut and the best Kremer-Porsche 962 CK6 finishes also 7th at Le Mans. Almost as the swan song, the 1993 Road America 500 km is won by a 962.

New rules and classes were announced in good time for the 1994 racing season in Europe. The fastest prototype class was now called the LMP1 and the fastest production car based class GT1. As the production car based vehicles are considered slower than the prototypes, the GT1 cars were allowed to have larger fuel tanks and larger air restrictors than the LMP1 cars. A loophole in the rules - at least one street-legal version had to exist to participate in the GT1-class - was used and Jochen Dauer's company built the first street-legal 962 in 1993. Despite being right-hand-drive, the Dauer 962 Le Mans was registered in Germany and showed at the 1993 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show.

1993 Dauer Porsche 962 Le Mans Street
1993 Dauer 962 Le Mans Street - the nose is shorter than on the GT1-class Dauer 962© Dauer

Two Dauer 962 LM were listed for the 1994 Le Mans in GT1 category. The result of the race was that the Dauer 962 #36 driven by Mauro Baldi/Yannick Dalmas/Hurley Haywood won the race and the sister car #35 driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck/Thierry Boutsen/Danny Sullivan scored third.

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1994 Le Mans winner: Dauer 962 LM (Dauer chassis GT003, originally Porsche chassis 962-169, twin-turbo 3.0) #36 Mauro Baldi/Yannick Dalmas/Hurley Haywood© Porsche
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1994 Le Mans winning 962 #36 followed by 3rd place 962 (Dauer chassis GT002, originally Porsche chassis 962-173, twin-turbo 3.0) #35 Hans-Joachim Stuck/Danny Sullivan/Thierry Boutsen. The xenon headlamps were used for the first time and Boutsen’s adrenalin level shoot sky high when the lights went briefly out in the dark while he was doing 300 km/h.© Porsche
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Selection of 962 posters© Porsche

In addition to Jochen Dauer, racing driver and team leader Vern Schuppan created a street legal super car called Schuppan 962 CR. The car had the engine, gearbox and axle parts from Porsche, but was otherwise his own design with his own chassis. Some design features of the Porsche 959 were used.

Chris Harris on cars - interview with Norbert Singer
Cool film about a street legal 962 (except the part where the driver parks on the spot reserved for disabled)

Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com


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