Join The World's Fastest Growing Porsche Community >>

Why was 1983 a good year in Group C?

www.matthowell.co.uk +44(0)7740583906

1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110
1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110 – Matthew Howell © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 1983 Group C World Endurance Championship was arguably one of the most exciting and competitive racing seasons in years. So, why was 1983 a good year in Group C? Well, this was the first year in which Porsche released the new 956 race car to its approved customer teams, and this resulted in increased competition, and packed grids. All good stuff for both the spectator and the sport.

1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110
1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110 – Matthew Howell © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In 1982, a new racing class, Group C, was introduced that would keep sports car racing fans spellbound for a decade. The new class of cars eligible for Group C would reach speeds previously not thought possible on the circuits of Europe, the UK and Japan. Porsche’s entrant in this class was the Type 956, a full ground-effects Group C prototype race car.
The 956, produced between 1982-1985, was powered by a 2649 cc twin-turbocharged 6-cylinder boxer engine. Developing around 620 bhp and with a top speed of around 360 km/h, Porsche’s big advantage came in the form of its reliability. The boxer engine had proven itself over and over again in the production arena as well as in countless motorsport applications. The engine featured water-cooled heads and air-cooled cylinders, and was in principle the same as that engine that had powered the 936/81 to victory at Le Mans in 1981.

1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110
1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110 – Matthew Howell © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

However, the only 956s available in 1982 were those raced by the Rothmans Porsche works team. It would be another full racing season before the customer racing teams would get their hands on a Porsche 956. But when Porsche made the 956 available to their broader racing customer market, it would usher in a period of financial fruitfulness unlike Porsche had seen before. The 935 had done well financially for Porsche but the 956 and its successor the 962 (although internally the company saw this as one and the same model), lifted the customer racing department to a different level altogether.

1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110
1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110 – Matthew Howell © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

For the start of the 1983 racing season, Porsche made the 956 available to its customers for entry, in most cases, into the World Championship for Makes. Other championships also saw the 956 in action, such as the DRM in Germany. Although the 956 was produced from 1982 to 1985, the 962 was introduced in 1984 for the American IMSA series, and in 1985 for the Group C series in the World Championship for Makes.

1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110
1983 Porsche 956 chassis #110 – Matthew Howell © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

But, back to the 956, privateer Porsche driver and team manager, John Fitzpatrick, managed to acquire two 956s in 1983. It’s quite possible that Fitzpatrick secured the first customer 956 to leave the factory, chassis #102, as chassis #101 had been allocated to Alain de Cadenet but he failed to collect the car. Chassis #101 was then sold to Kremer Racing. Fitzpatrick then took delivery of #102 in February 1983, but the car in question here, #110, was collected by Fitzpatrick just prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours that year.

Porsche 956-110 in competition

Le Mans 24 Hours 1983

he #11 JDavid Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956 driven by John Fitzpatrick, David Hobbs and Dieter Quester
Le Mans 24 Hour, 18-19 June 1983: The #11 JDavid Fitzpatrick Racing Porsche 956 driven by John Fitzpatrick, David Hobbs and Dieter Quester, negotiates the Esses just before the main start/finish straight

Following several races with their first 956 (#102), Fitzpatrick had chassis #110 collected from the factory in Stuttgart and painted just in time for the car’s debut at the 1983 Le Mans 24 Hour race. Racing under the #11 and sponsored by JDavid, the Californian financier, Fitzpatrick qualified the lead car in eleventh place on the grid, one place behind the #16 sister car. The #11 Porsche was driven by Britons John Fitzpatrick and David Hobbs with the Austrian Dieter Quester. Unfortunately for the recently finished chassis #110, a faulty fuel pump saw this car retire after 135 laps (just over one-third distance), but Fitzpatrick joined the #16 sister car which finished a credible fifth place.

Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes annoying ads, lets enjoy unlimited access to all our premium Porsche content and offers you awesome discounts on Porsche related products.

See Membership Options

 

Become A Full Fledged Member
No Pesky Ads. Full Access to Featured Content. Awesome Discounts on Products