1992 Kremer Porsche 962 CK06 and 1997 Porsche 911 GT1 Evo track test

Drive-my.com 2016 / 2017

style=”flat” size=”4″]Like father, like son Porsche 962 & 911 GT1 EVO. On track in the endurance legends. Porsche Le Mansracers ‘Need we introduce the Porsche 962? Together with the 956 it evolved from, it took seven victories at La Sarthe’ Porsche dominated endurance racing with the 962 and then the 911 GT1. One begat the other. Now Drive-My drives them both. Words Johan Dillen. Photography Dirk de Jager.

PORSCHE RACERS Track-testing the 962 and 911 GT1 Evo

I feel at home in the cockpit of the Kremer Porsche CK6/03. Nice steering wheel, clear dashboard displays, big lever to operate the dogleg five-speed ’box on my right. Fine. Until I turn the key, only to be shaken by that brute of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six as it barks: ‘I am not your friend: WHAT DO YOU WANT?’   But, then no-one would imagine that driving a 900bhp Le Mans Porsche could be anything other than intimidating.

1992 Kremer Porsche 962 CK06 and 1997 Porsche 911 GT1 Evo track test

1992 Kremer Porsche 962 CK06 and 1997 Porsche 911 GT1 Evo track test

Below. No, not the result of a high-speed impact, simply a chance to see the cars’ innards with clamshells removed. White GT1 marries tail structure of 962 (red) to a 911’s front. Left GT1 was the realisation of Norbert Singer’s dream to turn the 911 into a mid-engined race-car.

Need we introduce the Porsche 962? Together with the Porsche 956 it evolved from, it took seven victories at La Sarthe, if you include the 1994 Dauer win. This is Porsche’s ultimate Le Mans racer, and also the best representative of Porsche’s philosophy of allowing customers to take on the works team with near-identical equipment. The Cologne-based Kremer team is a prime example, the only one to win Le Mans outright with the 935 K3, which it did in 1979. Kremer was racing 962s in Group C in the 1980s.

[animate type=”pulse” duration=”14″ inline=”yes”]‘With the GT1, Porsche turned the rulebook upside-down and married 911 to 962’[/animate]

‘At the time, we were looking for something that would make Kremer stand out on the driver market,’ remembers the team’s former race manager Achim Stroth. ‘You had the works team, you had Joest buying a 956-2, you had us with a customer car… all vying for drivers’ attention. After the accidents that claimed the lives of Stefan Bellof and Manfred Winkelhock, it was clear there was a problem with the rigidity of the aluminium tub in the 956 and 962. So we asked our British partner Thompson, who at the time already made our modified aluminium honeycomb tubs, to start working on a carbon tub. We opted for the added stiffness of carbon, to compensate for the weight handicaps the Le Mans organisers applied to the 962s at the time.’ 

[counter count_end=”248″ counter_speed=”12″ align=”left” count_color=”#16c569″ count_size=”92px”]Max speed MPH Porsche 962 [/counter] [counter count_end=”205″ counter_speed=”12″ align=”left” count_color=”#fe9334″ count_size=”92px”]Max speed MPH Porsche 911 GT1 [/counter]

Carbon is the secret behind Kremer making this car last so long. Chassis CK06/03 was entered three times at Le Mans (1991, ’1992 and ’1993), put to rest, then dusted off and rebooted for another three Le Mans races in K8 Spyder form (1996, ’1997 and ’1998). ‘We were able to make it comply with the rule changes for the open WSC cars. Those demanded a bigger footwell and a bigger passenger compartment, adaptations we never could have achieved with the aluminium chassis,’ says Stroth. CK06/03 raced until 1999 in both carbon and aluminium form and remained in the Kremer workshop until 2011, before it moved to a Belgian collector, who had it rebuilt in this beautiful 1992 Kenwood livery as driven by Manuel Reuter, John Nielsen and Giovanni Lavaggi to seventh place. That is the best result it ever achieved at Le Mans, although Reuter won an Interseries race as well.

As CK06/03 soldiered on in Spyder form, Porsche was working on new plans. Group C’s costs spiralled and it was quickly consigned to the history books, due to a lack of competitors. In the newly formed GT Championship in the BPR series, Porsche’s 911 GT2 Turbo turned out not to be the best tool in the box – Norbert Singer himself admitted that it would be no match for the McLaren F1. For 1994, Singer and Jochen Dauer outsmarted the ACO at Le Mans with the Dauer 962 ‘road version’, and McLaren didn’t show up until 1995… then ran away with the race. So for 1996 Porsche came up with the ultimate 911 racer.

As with the 935 in the 1970s, Porsche turned the rulebook upside-down: it married the 911 to the 962. All the cars competing in the BPR series at the time were basically road cars that went racing: McLaren F1, Jaguar XJ220, Ferrari F40, Lotus Esprit. Porsche did the exact opposite and forced the racing car Norbert Singer had in mind to comply with European road-car regulations. In the end, this approach would be responsible for the undoing of the GT1 category. But could you really blame Porsche, when Le Mans rules required just a single production car for GT1?

A longer wheelbase was allowed for Porsche GT1 and this pretty much solved all Singer’s problems. In his autobiography 24:16, Porsche’s lead engineer admits to having dreamt of a mid-engined 911 since the end of the 935’s days, as it allowed him to create a venturi tunnel where the 911’s engine would otherwise sit. The GT1 used the front structure of the 993 road car, because it had already passed crash tests in homologation. But, behind the driver, any resemblance to a road car abruptly stopped at the firewall. From there, the 962 took over. The engine was based on the 962’s turbo flat-six, bored out to 3164cc for power of around 600bhp. For 1997, Porsche came up with the ‘Evo’ version you see here, with the headlights and doorhandles of the Porsche 996. Because of changing regulations, Porsche built 20 Strassenversion GT1 Evo models. Actually, this particular GT1 Evo would have won Le Mans overall in 1997. That is, if that year’s 24 Hours had finished at 1.40pm on the Sunday…

‘The Evos were the quickest cars throughout the weekend,’ remembers Ralf Kelleners, who drove the number 26 car for Porsche AG that June weekend in 1997. ‘We were leading the Joest WSC car by about a lap on the Sunday afternoon. I had asked Singer if I should take it down a notch or two but he advised against it; I should keep up the race pace. I had just taken on fuel and was on my outlap. The car had been running like clockwork, but suddenly I had no gears left. I was keeping the throttle open and rolling it along the Mulsanne straight, hoping to be able to coast it back to the pits. Suddenly smoke was filling the cockpit and it became clear to me that this definitely was not a gearbox problem. Flames were pouring out of the engine bay when I parked it.

I was devastated. The fire was later diagnosed to have been caused by an oil leak. I did not really care at the time, I was just very sad that victory at Le Mans slipped from my fingers. Although I quickly left those feelings behind. I always wanted to become a racing driver out of a lust for driving, not winning races. My years with Porsche and Toyota were the best of my career, no doubt. I have no regrets.’

All that is almost 20 years ago now, but you’ll hardly register the fact by looking at the Kremer CK06 and the 911 GT1 Evo. And only a fool would buy into the ‘roadgoing GT car’ when confronted with the latter. This is every inch as focused a race car as Porsche could develop under the rules. ‘It was prepared as only the Porsche factory could,’ says Kelleners. ‘It had all the power, the chassis and the aero a driver needed. In 1997, I also drove the regular GT1 for the Roock team. The GT1 Evo had a lot more downforce to offer from 140km/h onwards. In the race, we were faster then the WSC car from the Joest team. In my mind there is no doubt. Without the incident we would have won Le Mans in 1997.’

Bare facts are not kind to Porsche AG chassis 05. The 112 laps for which it led at Le Mans are its best credentials – it was no match for the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR or the longtail McLaren F1 GTR in that year’s FIA GT Championship.

In 1998 it was campaigned by Porsche of America in the USA as a semi-works effort, with podium finishes at Sebring, Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen, and it finished its racing career in black Texaco livery, driven by Gunnar Jeanette at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2001 to a lonely 78th place.

Current owner Jan B Lühn had it repainted in its 1997 scheme. ‘That turned out to be the most difficult part,’ says Mike Gensemeyer of Britec Motorsports, who takes care of both cars. ‘Inside the wheelarches is still the original white from 1997, but we had to redo all the livery. Iconic it may be, but we had only a scale model to work from. It took four weeks to repaint it; no decals, everything is painted on.’ Look more closely and you can still see battlescars on the carbonfibre diffusor.

‘It had only five hours of running since its last engine rebuild. The electronic management, devised by TAG Heuer for Porsche AG, is difficult. We are in the dark about how it really functions, let alone if something were to go wrong. Then things get complicated…’ says Gensemeyer.

Things are a little bit different in the Kremer CK6, as I discover. ‘Here we changed the Bosch system to Motronic.

Much friendlier to use.’ I had expected a more analogue environment, but find a complete digital dashboard, complete with a screen displaying images from a rear-facing camera attached to the back wing. The wing is not the one this car carried on its way to seventh in 1992, and it does without the rear wheel covers it wore then too.

Now it’s time to find out what it was like for guys like Manuel Reuter to go into battle. You need to be an acrobat even to get in: the canopy has a large-enough opening, but the side-mounted radiators are a hurdle. An elegant entry it is not, and, once inside, you feel as if you’re lying in a bathtub with your feet between the front wheels – even if this is the 962 that addressed that specific safety issue. Yet, once the doors close, I feel at ease – if only for so long. That flat-six. It’s rude, loud, there only to serve a purpose. If you want opera, go to Italy. I am given a single piece of advice: ‘See all these buttons? Don’t touch any of them. Just drive.’ With a thud, the door is closed and I am pushed on my way.

At low revs on cold Dunlops, the Kremer Porsche bops its way to the end of the pitlane. I take things easy as I edge out onto the Most Autodrome, but CK6 isn’t happy to potter. It refuses to enter the turn as I wish and, off-boost, does precisely nothing. Working through the gears isn’t all that straightforward either, and I mistake fourth for second. Oh well, better that than the other way around.

Time to summon up some courage, then. And it feels as though I’ve been catapulted. When the revcounter goes past 4000rpm you enter a new dimension. One that takes some mental recalibration. If ever you want to feel what it’s like to be strapped to a cannonball, this is it. The boost gauge indicates 1.2bar at a little over 6000rpm as I grab the next gear. It hisses and puffs at each shift and spits flames on the downchanges. Simply keeping the car pointing in the right direction takes all my concentration; that it would have been raced wheel-to-wheel for hours on end amid a haggle of other 962s, trying not to loose boost, defies belief. Whoever said ‘There is no such thing as enough horsepower’? Then, as I return to the pitlane and clamber back out, a surprise. ‘Oh, but you were only on the basic boost setting,’ Mike Gensemeyer smiles.

I move to a different world in the 911 GT1 Evo. There’s even power steering. You can clearly identify the 911 road car structure, even though the dashboard gauges have been replaced by a digital set. As I get properly installed in the driver’s seat, the history of this particular 996 GT1 Evo strikes me. I grasp the worn nubuck leather steering wheel and remember the names of the guys who touched it before me. Legends all: Hans Joachim Stuck, Thierry Boutsen, Bob Wollek and Allan McNish. Yannick Dalmas, Emmanuel Collard and Ralf Kelleners drove it at Le Mans. Paul Newman chose this as his final ‘great’ race car in the Daytona Test in 2001 with Gunnar Jeannette. To damage this car would be a criminal act.

Instead of lying down with a steering wheel in your hand, you sit more upright and further back than in the 962. It makes a big difference to your confidence levels.

Again, you start it with the key, only this time with one hand on the key and the other on the ignition switch. The response from behind your back is a familiar grunt and, as with the 962, the GT1 Evo struggles to come to terms with the 70km/h speed limit in the Most pitlane.

But on the green light, a completely different car appears. At the time the GT1 Evo appeared, the 962 was still racing, but the two could not be further apart in character. The Evo instantly forms a bond. Turbo lag? No sir, this car just starts pushing more as the revs progress. Sure, a ton of power readies itself to be unleashed through the rear Michelins, only this time you feel less overcome. After a quick introduction, you can properly get to work. It hits the apex at your command. You steer it gently on the throttle out of the corner, work your way instinctively through the manual six-speed gearbox, which is slick, quick and very precise, and the power steering makes things easy.

The Evo tries to be your best friend, whereas the 962 treats you like it just caught you in bed with its wife. In the 962, I approached the fourth-gear right-hander with caution. In third. In the GT1 , I keep it in fourth, and feed in more power. And with speed comes a purer voice. As onboard entertainment goes, nothing comes close to that offered by either of these engines at high revs. In both cars, every upshift is greeted with a big hiss from the pop-off valve.

‘The GT1 Evo was never difficult,’ remembers Ralf Kelleners. ‘It was conceived as half a 911 and half a race car, but it made total sense once you were behind the wheel. You could control it so nicely. No turbo-lag at all. A little bit of understeer so you’d feel safe. I remember we just turned up at the races and ran it. All Porsche did was to tweak the settings, then we’d discuss strategy for the race. That’s it.’

If only chassis 05 had lasted for two more hours, it would have proven everything Porsche wanted to in the GT1 category. But, for 1998, Porsche followed Mercedes’ lead and built a GT1-racer that bore no resemblance to a roadgoing 911 whatsoever. Porsche finally won in 1998, but in the end Mercedes, Porsche and Toyota killed the whole GT1 philosophy by creating racecars that were related to road cars only in theory. Le Mans reopened the gates for prototypes, and then some guys at Ingolstadt took an interest. It would be almost another two decades before Porsche got back to the podium at La Sarthe.

THANKS TO Most Autodrom, www.autodrom-most.cz, Britec Motorsports, and Jan B Lühn, who is handling the sale of the cars, www.janluehn.com.

‘The GT1 Evo and the 962 could not be further apart in character’


[tabs active=”2″ align=”center”][tab title=”1997 Porsche 911 GT1 Evo“]Engine 3164cc flat-six, water-cooled, twin-turbo, electronic fuel injection

Power 600bhp @ 7200rpm

Torque 441lb ft @ 5500rpm

Steering Rack and pinion


Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, adjustable anti-roll bar.

Rear: five-link, pushrod actuated coil springs over telescopic dampers, adjustable anti-roll bar.

Brakes Carbon discs

Weight 1050kg (empty)

Performance Top speed 205mph (depending on gear ratios)[/tab] [tab title=”1992 Kremer Porsche 962 CK06“] Engine 2994cc flat-six, water-cooled, twin-turbo, electronic fuel injection

Power 700bhp+ @ 8200rpm

Torque 523lb ft @ 5000rpm

Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Steering Rack and pinion


Front: double wishbones, Titan coil springs, Bilstein telescopic dampers, adjustable anti-roll bar.

Rear: multi-link, Titan coil springs, Bilstein dampers, adjustable anti-roll bar

Brakes Discs Weight 850kg (empty)

Performance Top speed 248mph (depending on gear ratios) [/tab] [/tabs]

[animate type=”pulse” duration=”14″ inline=”yes”]‘Need we introduce the Porsche 962? Together with the 956 it evolved from, it took seven victories at La Sarthe’[/animate]

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Additional Info
  • Year: 1992-1997
  • Engine: Petrol


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