The Porsche LMP1-98 was not an original creation by Porsche, it used the TWR-chassis. To trace the roots of Porsche LMP1-98, we have to go back in history and not in Porsche's history. Jaguar had years of good cooperation with Tom Walkinshaw Racing and the bold next step was to create a Jaguar for World Sportscar Championship Group C to compete against the domination of Porsche 962. TWR built the chassis and Jaguar suppled the engines and the Jaguar XJR-6 was ready in 1985, but not in time for Le Mans (despite three XJR-6 being signed up for Le Mans). The XJR-6 entered the Le Mans finally in 1986 and its evolution the XJR-8 finished 5th in 1987. A year later, in 1988 the hard work was rewarded with the victory at Le Mans for XJR-9. The success was repeated in 1990 with XJR-12. For 1991 the XJR-14 was created and important chassis number for us is the TWR-791, seventh chassis built for 1991 by Astec/TWR. The TWR-791 XJR-14 won the 1991 Sportscar World Championship Nürburgring race. Later the TWR-791 found its way to Porsche where it was renumbered as WSC95-001 and a 3-litre Porsche turbo engine was installed. The bodywork was also new - the earlier coupé became a spyder. Porsche had designed this open prototype for racing in the USA but aborted the campaign after a short-term rule change for 1995. Former race driver and now profiled motorsports team boss Reinhold Jöst took over the existing prototype from Porsche and had the aerodynamics as well as the suspension thoroughly modified by the Weissach engineers at his own expenses. A second car was built, the WSC95-002, which had a new chassis not previously used by Jaguar. WSC95 cars featured carbon-fibre monocoque, carbon-fibre plastic body and flat underbody. The Joest Racing entered WSC95-001 won the Le Mans in 1996 and 1997. The car was signed up for Le Mans LMP1 class as a TWR WSC, no mention of Porsche. The WSC95-002 qualified as the fastest car for the 1996 Le Mans, but failed in the race because of electrics problem.
For 1998, the two WSC95 became Porsche's factory team cars and were fitted with 3.2-litre Porsche turbo engines, and renamed as Porsche LMP1-98. The qualification times were not very good and both of the cars retired the 1998 Le Mans 24 hour race - the #7 WSC95-001 of Michele Alboreto/Stefan Johansson/Yannick Dalmas because of electrics problem and the #8 WSC95-002 of James Weaver/Pierre-Henri Raphanel/David Murry because of an accident.
The new Porsche LMP1 project for Le Mans 2000 had already been started, but after Ferry Porsche passed away in March 1998, the 1998 Le Mans in June saw the last Porsche factory entry with overall victory in mind. The new force at Porsche makes stop to racing and focuses on developing the Cayenne. The already started V10 prototype project for the Le Mans 2000 is converted into Carrera GT street car project.
Photos from 2015
Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com
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