[gt3r] One of the few American Porsche factory drivers, did you have any particular development work with Porsche on the GT3 R?

Actually, I drove the factory BMW V-8 car at Petit LeMans. After that weekend Porsche asked me about the BMW. I gave them my feedback and part of it was about the flat bottom it had for downforce. Porsche may have already known that, but the next year all GT cars had flat bottoms.

[gt3r] Any thoughts on how the car performs to the other GT Porsche cars and how it stacks against some of the Prototype Porsches?

The 996 has a much better performance but it is easier to drive than the 993's. It absorbs bumps better and is less prone to going backwards. It is still a production car though and not a prototype. Prototypes are much faster and still easier to drive.

[gt3r] You have raced in Porsches all over the world, what has been your favorite track?

I really like Watkins Glen. It has such a great rhythm. The speeds are pretty high but the straights are not too long to get bored. I am glad we race at different tracks because it would be really boring to drive the same track all the time. Road Atlanta is another favorite and it's home. Sebring is special because I won a record 5 times in a row there in Firehawk, so it's been lucky to me.

[gt3r] The introduction of water to the primarily air cooled platform was a big step, what did the driver have to do differently? any changes in driving style, etc? engine power and reliability?

It was great. It put some driver ability back into it. When I raced with MCR and Jim Matthews against the BMW's, we were at a deficit. IMSA asked us what we needed to be competitive and we asked for and got 14" tires. When the GT3 R came out, it had much more power and we went back to a narrow tire. At Road Atlanta, we were full throttle in the 993 RSR at turns 1, esses, and 12. When the GT3 R came out, we couldn't do that so it created 3 more high speed turns for us. The engine is a much better engine now in the GT3 R. The engine can stand a much higher RPM than we run at, so chumps like me don't have to worry as much about overrevving and hurting the engines.

[gt3r] Any thrilling moments or spills in a GT3 R you can share?

Just go to my web site and click on the "current news", "Road America", "video release" links and you will see a wing failure at 169.9 mph this year. I was very lucky it happened where there was a large gravel trap. No damage except a ruined pair of underwear.

[gt3r] What has been a struggle to overcome with the car as a driver? anything?

When the car first came out it was difficult to drive. The bump steer was less than perfect and the brakes really took some getting used to. Now the cars have been developed by the factory and are much more user friendly.

[gt3r] How much of a difference can be felt in the seat of a 2000 car and a 2003 car?

Quite a bit. As in my last statement, the bump steer and other teething issues had been ironed out.

[gt3r] The GT3 R took many leaps in technology in a semi-production competition car, how did this translate to the driver?

We had to adjust to a different car than we were used to driving. From no ABS, to wheelbase, to more power and less tire. It just drove different.

[gt3r] Particular comments on the aerodynamics? driveline? ergonomics? visibility?

The aerodynamics are much better. At LeMans, the 993 Turbos would accelerate a bit quicker from the corner but once we got to speed they were barely faster. The 996 body produces more downforce with less drag. The only downfall is that when it rains the cars tend to suck water inside on the front windshield and get it wet, mostly behind other cars. It is also so aerodynamic that when it's hot outside there is not airflow in the car. The driveline is durable considering it has much more torque and power than the 993. I think the ergonomics are better too. I have long legs that would get bunched up under the dash bar. The GT3 R gives me more room. The visibility is fine. I am not sure it's as good as the 993 but we use mirrors so it's still fine.

[gt3r] What is the big deal about Michelin tires on the GT3 R ?

They have come to be a standard that every other slick is measured by. Michelins are superior tires now. I remember when Pirelli held that honor. Tires are so critical that if one manufacturer has found an edge, you can't do enough to the car to make up for it. Michelin will ride the wave until someone else surpasses them. It is very difficult for a team or driver to stay loyal to a tire manufacturer because of this.

[gt3r] What are your future aspirations with Porsche? anything you can share?

I am very happy to be involved in Porsche the way I am. I have been lucky to have had the opportunity with Porsche that is so rare. I have also realized that and value it. My relationship goes beyond the race track with Porsche. I also introduce new street models to the press and work with the Porsche Driving Experience. Porsche has won more sportscar races than any other make and it good for me to part of Porsche. I don't know what Porsche's future racing plans are and I don't know if they know either. I believe Porsche is concentrating on their car sales. They have had success with the 911, Boxster, and now the Cayenne. I believe we will see more models in the future from Porsche.

[gt3r] What more can be rung out of the 996 platform?

There is always more but I think you will see a new platform before long.

[gt3r] Any great stories, thoughts?

I went to the first Rennsport event at Watkins Glen. It was Porsche and Watkins Glen 50th anniversary. Porsche told me they brought a few cars from the museum in Weissach and one of them was the Porsche 917. I went crazy and told Porsche that I really must drive the car because it was my favorite Porsche (or car of any kind) in history. They agreed to let me drive the 917-10. I said, "Oh, a 917- 10?, I thought it was a 917- 30." They asked if the 10 wasn't good enough for me? I said, "Well, it is awesome but there is nothing like the 30! So, I didn't drive it. Then, 3 years later when Porsche did their Rennsport Reunion they told me they were bringing the 917-30 over. Before I could speak while I was still choking, they told me I could drive it. They had invited Roger Penske down to Lime Rock's Rennsport Reunion to drive the car he ran years before, the 917-30 and my "technical" job was to drive it and make sure it was OK for Roger. I couldn't believe it. It was something I never even dreamed that I would do. I walked up to the car at the event and it was huge. It looked like it weighed a lot. It was only 1200 pounds and the boost was set at 1.2 bar, or 1200 horsepower! I climbed in and drove away. It was easy to not stall since it had a huge displacement, over 5 liters. I drove it fast enough to feel satisfied but not fast enough to crash it, which needless to say would not be good. I slid the car in some corners but couldn't go full throttle until straight at about 120 mph or it would spin the tires. It had so much power, it was great! Then when I got out, as if that wasn't a thrill enough, Roger Penske walked up and introduced himself (like I didn't know who he was). We talked about the car so he knew what to expect before he drove it. What a really nice guy he was. It was a thrill that I will remember forever. Like Kelly Collins once said about co-driving with Dale Earnhardt Sr., "It's building rocking chair equity.."

David Murry