Category Archives: The Big Figure

image_pdfimage_print

The Final Run in the Majors

1998 Le Mans 24 Hours

The Le Mans 24 Hours had been a happy hunting ground for the Porsche 956/962 dynasty, seven outright victories at La Sarthe, but even the greatest monarch’s reign must end. In 1998 three Kremer K8 cars were entered but only one made it through the Pre-Qualification weekend, the Rocky Augusta/Almo Coppelli/Xavier Pompidou, example.

1998 24 Hours of Le Mans

Come race week the young Frenchman qualified the K8 in 3:57.814, 29th on the grid and 14th in class, some 22 seconds off pole sitter Bernd Schneider’s AMG Mercedes. However the race would be a different matter.

1998 Le Mans 24 Hours

There was no point in trying to set lap records, the car was too slow for that, so the old virtues of reliability and slick pit work were the weapons that would be best employed by the Kremer squad. Incredibly the factory teams started to implode, AMG Mercedes and BMW gone before sunset on Saturday. When the factory Porsche LM P1 pair also retired by dawn on Sunday a good finish seemed a possibility.

1998 Le Mans 24 Hours

The other privateers prototypes joined in the lemming-like self destruct impulse, all of which propelled the Kremer up the leader board. The race went to plan, just tyres and two brake pad changes, it would another year before HITCO and BMW would go the race distance on one set of carbon pads. OK there were a couple of spins, particularly early morning Sunday morning, but I recall the conditions being especially foul and slippery, catching out the leading Porsche 911 GT1-98 for example.

1998 Le Mans 24 Hours

The upshot for Kremer was second place in LMP1 class and 12th overall, covering 314 laps or 4264.196 kilometres, a fitting way for the Porsche 956/962 family to bid farewell to Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans

John Brooks, November 2013

 

A Little Bird Told Me

stephane-rat-241

 

Another new contributor, T. Witt-Woo, has sent us some shots from a recent test of the the new Porsche 911 RSR at Sebring. Without ruffling any feathers there were a few tweets too……………………
To me, the car seemed more stable and less “bouncy” than the 997.. There were a couple of 997’s circulating and, to me, the 991 seemed to corner with less roll and to brake/accelerate with less pitch/dive than they did.. maybe a longer wheelbase and wider track..? maybe it was an illusion caused by the more squat stance.. But it seemed more “planted”…………………Also had a more race-engine sound..
John Brooks, February 2013
[nggallery id=1]

Trend Setter

1998_LeMans24_jb_0049

Back in 1998, Don Panoz was persuaded that one way of improving the performance of the GTR-1 was to create a hybrid version, known as the Q9. Well that idea foundered on the available technology, too bulky and too heavy for any advantage to accrue. Try as he might James Weaver could not qualify the sleek coupé at Le Mans. It did race, and finish, later in the year at the inaugural Petit Le Mans. Of course from 2014 hybrids will be all the rage…………being a pioneer has its drawbacks.

John Brooks, January 2013

The Crest of a Wave

In recent years the films, Truth in 24 have quite rightly paid tribute to the fantastic victories scored by Audi in 2008 and 2011, against all odds. However even those achievements are dwarfed when set against the performance of Jacky Ickx, Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood some 35 years ago.

The story of how this trio climbed from 42nd place to win against a huge squad of Renaults is an epic one and the drama continued right to the final lap as the Porsche’s engine suffered piston failure while in the lead. Jürgen Barth coaxed the 936 round the track twice to take the flag while one cylinder was blanked off.

Jacky Ickx’s contribution was recorded by the Great Man, Norbert Singer, in his book 24:16

“Ickx amazed us all. He was in the car for more than seven and half hours during the night, and he broke the lap record time after time in the dark. He spent a total of eleven hours in the car, having taken it over four and half hours after the start. Later he told us that it was the hardest race of his life.”

Real Men, Real Racing………….that is the Truth in 24.

John Brooks, June 2012

The Heavyweight Champion of the World

Battle Scars

The 2000 Rolex 24 Hours was without doubt one of the most significant races that has been sanctioned by the Grand Am organisation. Even if the race had been terrible it would have a special place in the hearts of those who live down International Speedway Boulevard, it was the first to be run under the new flag.

The Bell Tolls

However the contest will go down in history as one of those that you were grateful to have witnessed. There was a titanic struggle between two motorsport heavyweights, ORECA with their armada of Dodge Vipers against fellow Detroit spinners, Pratt & Miller, fielding the mighty Chevrolet Corvettes. It went all the way to the finish and after 723 laps there was less than 30 seconds separating the Viper from the Vette. Compelling and hard fought by two great teams.

Rolex Seeker

So a fantastic GT race then? Well no, there was a pretty handy bunch of prototypes heading up the grid, state of the art or so we thought. Well that theory was going to be blown out of the water in less than six weeks, when the Audi R8 would appear at Sebring. At a stroke the 333SPs and Rileys were all yesterday’s men, welcome to the 21st Century.

Wayne’s World

As if there was not enough Detroit goodness present in the GTO class, the race also saw the debut of the Cadillac LMP project. After 50 years away from the tracks there was new marketing thrust, “Art & Science” which would launch the brand on a path to develop their range to be the equal of the likes of Lexus and the German trio, Audi, BMW and Mercedes Benz.

Daybreak

Perhaps even more significant in the long term was the debut of 23 examples of the Porsche 911 GT3R. The Porsche 911 has long underpinned GT Racing and here was their latest effort, their first water cooled racer. It demonstrated, that despite withdrawing as a factory team aiming for victory in classic races, that motorsport was still a core element in the Porsche DNA. The presence of movie star, Paul Newman, added lustre to the Porsche contingent, pity that the motto “Excellence Was Expected” seemed to have been forgotten as one by one water pumps and consequently engines failed. Inspection by flustered representatives of Weissach revealed that the sand used in the engine block casting process had not been cleaned out and the residue clogged the water pumps causing them to seize and the engines to go bang. Entries from Barbour Racing, Labre, MAC Racing, Racers Group, Skea, Seikel, MCR, PK Sport, Reiser Callas and Haberthur all retired as a result of this issue. Not good.

Blue Streak

The race unfolded as, one by one, the prototypes struck problems until there just the Dyson Riley & Scott holding the two Detroit GTO outfits at bay. Then this leader slowed as well and was gradually caught by the pack of Vipers and Vettes.

Tres Amigoes

So that was how Grand Am’s first race played out, in absolutely freezing conditions by Florida’s standards, the combination of Gallic flair and American Muscle prevailed. Grand Am was launched in the best possible way.

John Brooks, January 2012.


Ground Control To Major Tom

Rose Tinted?

It has been common knowledge amongst those who follow motor sport that there are more than a fair share of space cadets involved at every level.

Well, now we have the genuine article………..Tom Coronel has signed up for some form of Dutch Space Travel…..sounds like a very complicated position………….I wonder if we will see it illustrated at some stage in Gentlemens’ Trophy?

He is leaving no room for doubts: “This is what I have always wanted!” During the Millionair Fair in Amsterdam, 39-year old Tom Coronel signed a contract with SXC Space Expedition Curacao’s Michiel Mol to become one of the 100 ‘founder’ astronauts to travel into space in 2014, among others with model Doutzen Kroes and DJ Armin van Buuren.

Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

John Brooks, December 2011

A big thank you to David Lister for Tom’s portrait and for tipping me off about this project.

 

All Shook Up

Rollin' & Tumblin'

I am a little confused, Where are the reports of carnage down the San Andreas Fault? How have they silenced the media, in California of all places? Is Famoso still standing? Surely the plates have moved?

David Lister has been kicking up a photographic storm for the second weekend in a row, this time at the California Hot Rod Reunion. He is on fire right now…………

A Trick Of The Light

Corkscrewed

The combination of Laguna Seca in the fall, Rennsport IV and David Lister is irresistible. This gallery of images from last weekend is inspirational, shows how the job should be done, from composition to post-processing.

A MasterWerk.

John Brooks, October 2011


California Dreaming

David Lister is currently out in Laguna Seca covering the Fourth Rennsport.

Great light and great ability produces great images, as can be seen.

He dropped me a note to go with his shots.

It’s not just the cars which are the stars of the various shows here at the 4th Porsche Rennsport Reunion, but there are also some pretty handy drivers peddling the cars out on the track, including four outright winners of La Ronde Infernale…

Gijs van Lennep, Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood and Jochen Mass.

Gijs is driving the 1970 David Piper 917K in the “Sandemans” Sherry livery, the car which he originally shared with Piper in the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours. Recently restored by Gunnar Racing, the car looks stunning in its original yellow and red.

Jürgen is out in a couple of cars, in the various classes. His older ride being a 356, he is pictured here in a 1979 era 935.

Three time Le Mans’ winner Hurley Haywood also has two rides, an older 914 and, pictured here, a 1975 era Brumos/Ecurie Escargot RSR, putting him into the same group as his ’77 co-driver, Barth.

Jochen is alone amongst his Le Mans winning peers here, in that his victory came for Sauber Mercedes, and not for Porsche. He has a long association with Porsche, though, and is driving the youngest of the cars that is being driven by the past winners of the 24 hours here, a 1988 Texaco Havoline sponsored 962

The four drivers’ Le Mans victories were:
Gijs van Lennep:
1971, Porsche 917, with Helmut Marko
1976, Porsche 936, with Jacky Ickx
Jürgen Barth
1977, 936, with Hurley Haywood and Jacky Ickx

Hurley Heywood
1977, Porsche 936, with Jürgen Barth and Jacky Ickx.
1983, Porsche 956, with Vern Schuppan and Al Holbert
1994, Dauer 962 Le Mans, with Yannick Dalmas and Mauro Baldi

Jochen Mass
1989, Sauber C9 Mercedes Benz, with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens