[gt3r] As one of the prolific 993 RSR privateer teams (Reiser Callas Rennsport) in the USA in the late 90s, talk about the transition to the 996 platform...( challenges, triumphs, etc)
We spent most of the second half of the 1999 American LeMans season chasing the Alex Job GT3 R, which was the first one running in ALMS. There was a second one later in the year with KTM markings but it was not a full effort and we were able to run with it. But we believe we were the only team to beat the GT3 R with the 993 RSR in FIA sanctioned competition, when my guys David Murry and Johnny Mowlem beat the Alex Job car wheel to wheel, to win the class at Laguna Seca ALMS in late 1999.
[gt3r] Your thoughts on the 996 GT3 R out of the box..... transmission, engine, suspension, etc.
The engine was a real challenge right out of the box for reliability. Our 2000 GT3 R, like most others, almost failed in its first race at Daytona in 2000. There was sand in the castings, and we were one of only a handful to finish. We took an hour out of the race to change the water pump, since we knew other teams were having problems with them, and we were already behind from an accident. Almost no one had spare water pumps, but we happened to have one. Late in the race someone from Weissach stopped by our pits, and suggested to short shift to finish the race. Tony Callas turned and showed him his clipboard where he had started doing that with each driver a few hours earlier.
[gt3r] You have been racing a 996 GT3 Cup car in club level events the past few years, how much different has that been than the pro events?
Yes mostly running in Canada with CASC, first in the Bytzek Canada Challenge Cup, then unfortunately it ended, and last year I finished third in the new Canadian Touring Car championship. It is a lower key, lower cost formula. Definitely a lot of fun (at least it was before they outlawed slicks for 2004). The Cup car is more maintenance-friendly, since the suspension for example has rubber joints, the car does not take the same level of stress as the GT3 R with real metal spherical suspension joints. For short club events you don't need the high pressure fill tools for the oil & water systems, so the Cup car is almost a "gas and go" version of the GT3 R. And it is really quick. The tires aren't wide enough, but that is part of the fun and the challenge.
[gt3r] What would you want to see in the future of the 996 platform?
What an amazing question. I can't think of anything Porsche left out except perhaps a sequential gearbox, and it appears that is here now with the new GT3 RSR. I would have to say, wider availability of engine parts for the race motors. I could say something about the cost of suspension hard parts, but with the Euro so high against the dollar, I don't know what Porsche could do about that.
[gt3r] There was a tremendous amount of development that took place in the first few months within the introduction of the GT3 R, what was discussed?
Yes we loved the fact that the 993 RSR came from Porsche just about ready to race, except for the need to weld in "Nascar bars" to the cage to run the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona. This was a set of reinforcing bars on the driver's side in case of an accident you would not want to be turned sideways, sitting on a high speed part of the track. We showed Herbert Ampferer what we had there, while we were at Sebring in 1999. Next thing we know, the first production GT3 R models came in the following December with Nascar bars already in place right from Weissach. This way the design had been, you know, actually designed, instead of just designed one weld at a time in the USA with each car different. One of the other things Porsche adapted & refined from the front-running US teams, we were all using the Tilton SuperLite race clutch setup on the last of the 993 RSRs. Porsche actually worked this in to the production GT3 R, first with the 7.5" two-plate version, then later with the 5.25" three-plate version. We were really impressed to see Porsche go to an "outside" technology and really work it into their system. Dennis Aase called this the single most effective improvement you could make to a modern 911 race motor.
[gt3r] The GT3 R is essentially a production car, what are the problems/challenges in making the car/chassis work in the racing environment?
It takes a lot of reinforcing and cross bracing to get the chassis to be stiff enough. I see the 2004 Cup cars and the GT3 RSR have yet further improvements (additional triangulation) in the bars to keep chasing this problem up the hill. Something happened during Sebring 2000, while we worked on race setup, most teams were working on qualifying. We ran a softer setup than anyone had tried yet on a GT3 R, because the first & last turns there are so bumpy yet so critical to good lap times and a great endurance run. We had Roland Kussmaul over to our paddock to see a problem he had not run into before because the tracks in Europe are so much smoother and you run so much stiffer. We got it solved and wow did that car work.
[gt3r] Any comments on the GT3 R development since 99?
I am still studying the differences between the GT3 R and the GT3 RS, and just when I thought I almost had a handle on it, boom along comes the GT3 RSR. It will be a long time until we all know most of the differences. When we beat the early GT3 R at Laguna Seca with our 993 RSR, we knew we had a lot more downforce than they did. Over the last few years the GT3 R has slowly improved in this area, and this is probably the most easily overlooked development.
[gt3r] Any insight why there hasn't been a GT2 996 track car from the factory?
I don't know for sure, but I would guess it has to do strictly with the rules and the competition. Porsche is wise enough in how they choose their battles to avoid attacking a much larger budget enterprise in the world spotlight. When the rules are right, we will know by that whistle & glow in the night and that trophy in the early afternoon at LeMans. When I was at Weissach in December 1999 to see our GT3 R being completed as part of the first batch, we saw Roland Kussmaul with a 996 street turbo all apart. He had the all-wheel drive parts out sitting by a dumpster, and had the back seats out and stuff like that. I said, "what are you doing?" and he just smiled and looked back and said "nothing".
[gt3r] How important is the tire choice on a GT car?
If you have Michelins it is not very important at all, otherwise it has been a real issue. We were the top team on Yokohoma with the 993 RSR, and then with the early GT3 R... later the Seikel Motorsports team picked up that ball and continued further. In 1999-2000 we figured we gave up about a second to a second and a half a lap to the Michelin teams, and they could double stint the tires on top of that. At Sebring 2000 I drove with Craig Stanton and Hurley Haywood. We were running around 8th or 10th in practice and qualifying, and I remember we were meeting, and Hurley said, "you know we can be third" if we do this, this, and this. We decided our best bet was to do just that, play for endurance, run the best speed and least pitting over the whole interval, and it worked, we finished third in our first try with the GT3 R. And that was against the Dick Barbour team, which had a lot going on that year.
[gt3r] Dampers same question...
It seems that the Motons have won the great battle. We funded and performed some important testing for Ohlins in practice at Daytona 2000, but then they really lost focus and I don't know what happened. I think it is clear that Moton has a superior product. JRZ is my runner up favorite, but I am biased from the days of running them on the GT1 and the 993 RSR & GT2.
[gt3r] Favorite track, and any chance you would be back in the pro arena again?
The economics of the sport have changed so much. We felt that if we funded a quality program, we would attract sponsors. Red Bull was the only one we got close to working with, they have a real class program going. Truthfully Nascar has pulled so much of the sponsorship money there is not much left to go around. If you look at the nearly empty grandstands at the 24 hours of Daytona, and compare it to the jam-packed grandstands 3 weeks later for the Daytona 500, you can't fault the sponsors for going where they are right now. Of course it's a catch 22, if they spent tens of millions on the Tide or Miller Genuine Draft Porsche, you could see a hell of a boost in attendance.
[gt3r] What would you want to see from Porsche as far as support? any changes?
I would look to Uwe Brettel on this front, his SuperCup background puts him in a good place to assess this going forward. I think the parts and technical support they provide currently with people like Eric, Phoebe, Henry, Jim and others is first rate. In terms of changes, we are hoping to see some widening of the venues we all can run in. There is such an enormous gap between ALMS and PCA club racing. GrandAm is good, but even GrandAm is also on too high of a level for most small teams to compete now without big sponsor money. We can't expect Porsche to get involved in that, but we can hope that they may find a way to run a SuperCup in the US, or a Porsche/BMW/Ferrari/Corvette Challenge Cup, or some other way of adding a classy venue, where you can earn Porsche Cup points, FIA sanctioned, but without it being a battle of checkbooks.