The Ex-Larbre Competition, Sony Playstation, Multiple Le Mans 24 Hour
1997 Porsche 993 GT2 Evo
Few marques can claim such a significant stronghold over the world of sportscar racing for so long as Porsche. Taking outright victory in the Le Mans 24 hours a staggering 19 times, Sebring 12 Hours 18 times and the Daytona 24 Hours 22 times.
From the mid 1960s the iconic 911 in one form or another has been at the forefront of Porsches success and that carries on to this day.
Pathing the way
With the demise of Group C in 1994, Porsche’s decision not to compete in the new LMP1 formula, combined with Porsche’s withdraws from Formula 1 and CART, meant that a potential hole started to appear in the road ahead for Porsche’s sporting activities.
While still concentrating on their one marque Supercup series in a number of different countries, back at the factory thought turned to a new race car and the international Grand Touring or GT racing seemed the sensible option. While GT racing was being pulled in a number of different regulatory directions across the globe, confident in their following and relying on the old adage “build it and buyers will come”, Porsche started with a 964 based turbo charged race car, the 911S LM.
A single car team was entered in to the 1993 running of the Le Mans 24 Hour. Driven by Hans Stuck, Walter Röhrl and Hurley Haywood it qualified a very credible 21st but did not finish due to incident. The 911S LM was rebuilt and then was acquired by Jack Leconte’s highly regarded Caen based team Larbre Competition. For 1994 Larbre went on to take the 911S LM to 2nd overall in the Dayton 24 hours and outright wins at Paul Richard, Jarama, Suzuka and Zuhaï (China’s first international race). The path was set for both Porsches future GT racers and continued success for the Larbre racing team.
Around this time Jürgen Barth along with Patrick Peter (of Peter Auto fame) and Stéfan Ratel looked to bring order into the GT racing category. The 4 hour race won by the 911S LM at Paul Ricard in March 1994 was the first to be run under BPM rules. To strengthen their commitment to GT racing Porsche built a number of accessible racers to satisfy their strong client base. Again based on the 964 the first of these being the Carrera 3.8 RS and then subsequently the Carrera 3.8 RSR.
With its tuned M64/04 flat-6 engine the 3.8 RSR’s official power output was 325bhp at 6,900rpm and potentially just over 350bhp at 7,400rpm. With a recorded 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds it was described by Car and Driver as ‘having a shot at becoming the most successful, most reliable street-based coupe yet convinced.’
The cars proved their point winning the Interlargos, and the Spa 24 hour race in 1993 as well as taking the Le Mans GT class win the same year. 1994 started with 3rd overall at the Daytona 24 Hour and 5th at Sebring for the 12 hours, taking the class win on both occasions. As impressive as the RSR was the team at Porsche were only just getting started!
Enter the 993
1993 also saw the introduction of what is considered by many the last of the ‘classic 911’, the 993. The last 911 to be fitted with the traditional air-cooled engine, it is an established favourite in the 911 family. Penned by Englishman Toni Hatter, the exterior changes to the 993 from the previous 964 were significant, including sloping headlamps, wider front and rear bumpers that integrated smoothly with the body, wider wheel arches, raised front bonnet to increase luggage space, and ‘teardrop’ door mirrors. Overall, the car had a much more modern appearance.
Mechanically, improvements included an all-new multi-link rear suspension mounted on an aluminium subframe, six-speed manual transmission fitted as standard, refined optional all-wheel-drive system, larger brakes with drilled discs, and revised power steering.
Initially offered in normally aspirated format, with its five-link rear suspension and more robust body shell the 993 was an obvious candidate for turbo charging. Launched at the 1995 Geneva Salon in March 1995 the 993 Turbo was hailed as the companies flagship model. The 993 Turbo’s M64/60 engine benefitted from the competition derived twin-turbo charger set up driving through all wheel drive for the first time. The car featured Porsches latest 6-speed with limited slip differential and as with all 911 Turbo it certainly looked the part with usual big fixed rear wing.
The end result clearly didn’t disappoint. Belgium racing ace Paul Frère summed up the new Turbo as: ‘probably the fastest road car to be found this side of the McLaren F1 or the EB110.’ With a 0-60 mph time of only 3.6 seconds Car and Driver called the 993 Turbo ‘obscenely fast and sophisticated’. The model went on to receive a number of industry awards and accolations, however Porsche were not done there.
The 993 GT2
April 1995 saw the benchmark raised to a whole new level the launch of another limited-production Turbo variant. Straight from the race department at Weissach came the racing version of the new 993 Turbo, the 993 GT2. The first and perhaps most iconic iteration of the hardcore ‘GT2’ models it took its name from the BPR GT2 class in which it was designed to compete. FIA homologation called for 25 cars to be built per year, a number the GT2 was easily able to meet, with the sports department taking 45 orders for the GT2 at its launch alone.
With All Wheel Drive banned in Sportscar racing by the FIA the GT2 was rear wheel drive only, still running through a six speed gearbox. The car went on an extreme weight loss programme and in stripped out racing form the GT2 officially weighed 1,152 kg with the apparent ability to go down to 1,110kg, just above the 1,100kg category minimum. The doors and front bonnet were all made from aluminium and all the windows were replaced with ultra thin glass. As for the interior, it was all stripped out bar the traditional instrument cluster. As well as the racing version the GT2 was also offered in Club Sport and road versions. A roll cage was used for the Club Sport and the road version featured a more conventional, all be it sparse, trimmed interior.
The work did not stop there. The ride height was dropped all round by 0.8 of an inch from the standard Turbo and benefitting from time in their wind tunnel a new front spoiler with turned up wings at each end was fitted to increase downforce. This was balanced by a lager adjustable bi-plane rear wing with featured forward facing air scoops in its wing struts to feed air into the twin KKK K24 turbochargers, running through the GT regulations specified 33.8mm air restrictors. This car meant business. The front and rear arches were cut out and fitted with plastic bolt on flairs to take the 18×11 inch rear wheels and 18×9 inch fronts. The car featured adjustable anti roll bars front and rear.
The single ignition twin turbo 3.6-litre engine produced 430 bhp in road form. The racing version was controlled by TAGtronics and produced a minimum of 480bhp with as much of that power as possible tailored for between 5,200 and 6,200 rpm. Its 480 lb/ft torque was delivered through a limited slip differential. The end result in racing form gave performance of 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, 0-100 in 6.5 seconds and 0-150 in a staggering 15.4 seconds.
With 45 examples sold in 1995 and a further 14 in 1996, the GT2 was quick to hit the track taking 4th overall in the 1995 Daytona 24 Hours, 1st and 3rd in the 1995 SCCA World Series and winning the ADAC’s GT Cup series in Germany. Several GT2s went to Japan and won the GT Championship. The GT2 was successful in the class it was names after in BPR and in the four hour race at Montlhérey the GTs came home 1-2-3.
The next and final chapter of the GT2’s story was yet to be written, and a major architect of this was Jack Leconte’s Larbre Competition who ran the car we have the pleasure of offering for sale.
The 993 GT2 Evolution
In a bid for outright victory in the BPR series and major long distance races the GT2 needed to be able to be competitive in GT1. Although Porsche had produced an engine upgrade package for the race cars for the April 1995 races it was Jack Leconte and his Larbre Competition who took the GT2 further. With close links to the factory, they set about upgrading the cars to run in GT1. Although the new ‘Evo’ spec cars visually looked similar to the original GT2’s they were a much more elaborate car.
The engine was upgraded in the Race Department in Weissach, producing 600bhp and according to some 630 bhp at 7,000rpm. The redline was lifted and the torque raised to 530lb/ft. This staggering increase in power not only came from the larger 40.4mm air restricters allowed in GT1, the twin turbos were larger each with their own Porsche designed waste gate and the exhaust system was unrestricted.
Larbre developed a strengthened gearbox to take the extra power, they then widened the front and rear wheels to 10 inches at the front and 12.5 at the rear. Built by BBS the rears had to be made specially with a negative offset of 110mm so that they fitted the body. The brakes were also upgraded from the original 13 inch to 15 inch.
As these new upgrades came into circulation a number of the teams upgraded their GT2 to the new Evolution specification and in 1998 Porsche built a run of 25 road versions called the GT2 Evo.
This car: Chassis WPOZZZ99ZTS394074
Produced by Porsche Sport Stuttgart in March 1997 as a GT2 R, chassis WPOZZZ99ZTS394074 and engine number 61T20712, it was invoiced to Larbre Competiton for Jean-Luc Chéreau, to be race prepared and run for him by Larbre Competition.
Liveried in white, with red and black stripes and entered and sponsored by Société Chéreau, Jean-Luc Chéreau’s family business, 394074’s first official outing was the Pre-Qualifying for the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hour at Le Mans on the 4th of May 1997. Driven by the all French line up of GT2 star and former F1 driver Jean-Pierre Jarier, team owner Jack Leconte and the owner of the car Jean-Luc Chéreau and carrying the race number 77, they pre-qualified 45th, in a busy field, running in the GT2 class.
On the 15th of June the team returned to Le Mans for the main event. Running the same driver line up and still carrying the number 77 they qualified an impressive 36th overall and first in the GT2 Class with a time of 4:07:153. This was a just under a second faster the the next GT2 Porsche of the Roock team and 25.57 seconds off of the pole sitting and eventual race winning LMP1 TWR-Joest Porsche WSC95. Sadly after 5 hour and 49 minutes, on lap 77, the team had to retire with gearbox issues.
394074’s next race was the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship the Pokka 1000km at Suzuka in Japan on 24th of August, race number 83, this time Chéreau and Leconte, were joined by Patrice Goueslard. Entered under the name Larbre Competition they qualified 25th overall and 3rd in GT2 and went on to take 19th overall and 6th in the GT2 Class.
From Japan, it was off to China for the 3 hour Marlboro Global Endurance GT Race at Zhuhai. The first international race in China, carrying race number 35 and with a driver line up of Malcher / Goueslard / Leconte they finished 8th overall and 6th in GT2.
The 1998 Season started off well with the Jarama 4 Hours on the 22nd of March. Still in the Chereau livery and with Jean-Luc sharing the driving duties with Spaniard Jésus Pareja and Jack Leconte, they transformed a 5th place qualifying to an impressive 3rd overall.
For Le Mans pre-qualifying Larbre Competion turned out a two car team. A new GT1 Porsche in black PlayStation livery for Jean-Pierre Jarier and another of their GT2 in Chereau livery for Jean-Luc Chéreau. For the main event Jean-Luc and his co-drivers drove another Larbre Competition entered GT2 (chassis 393010, liveried in Chereau colours), while with the GT1 not being used, Jean-Pierre Jarier, this time with Carl Rosenblad and Robin Donovan, drove 394074, now also liveried in the striking black Play Station livery as the GT1 had. Qualifying 32nd and 3rd in the GT2 Class with a time of 4:05.010. They split the dominant Dodge Vipers and in the race they led their class before they had to retire with suspension failure.
Further to Jarama and the Le Mans 24 Hours, Larbre Competition also ran 394074 in the FFSA GT Series taking 3rd overall in the Championship after contesting only 6 of the 12 races.
For 1999, 394074 was uprated by Larbre Competiton to GT2 Evo specification. An invoice from Porsche on the 26th of May, shows a new M64/84 3.8-litre engine, engine number M64 84 805 for the price of €98,990. This very rare engine is the ultimate specification for these cars and is the engine that remains in the car today. Larbre ran 394074 at Le Mans in 1999, for its third 24 Hours. Driven by Jean-Luc Chereau, Pierre Ever and Patrice Gouselard, 394074 qualified 33rd overall, 6th in the GTS class, and first Porsche. In the race itself, 394074 retired 125 laps from the end.
In late 1999, Bob Watson approached Mike Youles and Tim Harvey with the intention of putting a Porsche team together, with his sponsor Paul Hogan, to contest the 2000 British GT Championship. Initially planning to build a car using a GT3 chassis and a 962 engine, they eventually secured the use of 394074 from Larbre and headed to Oulton Park for their first race. Still running the white livery with distinctive red and black stripes but with the Chereau sponsorship replaced by Ricardo. The first time they drove the car was at the official test at Oulton on the 29th of April. Mike Youles described the test in a period article as initially running with ‘too small a restrictor and what seems like the Le Mans ratios’ in the gearbox. Despite this they were 4th and 3rd fastest in the test. Three days later the pairing went on to win the race earning themselves the prestigious Oulton Park Gold Cup.
A week later they were back in action at Donington for the next round of the championship where they came 8th. Next came Silverstone and Donnington, both DNF. On the 30th of July they were 2nd overall at Croft. By round 9 at Silverstone the driver line up changed with Youles now sharing with Neil Cunningham. Taking 7th on this occasion they went on to take 3rd at Snetterton, seeing the season out on the 8th of October back at Silverstone with a 7th.
For the 2001 season 394074 sold to David MacMillan to run in the AMOC Intermarque Series. The engine was rebuilt ready for the season by Bob Watson and the car was run by 3D Motorsport. David got off to a good start with a 1st overall Brands Hatch on the 29th of April. Success did not stop there with a with victory in both the Intermarque and Open Challenge race at Donington, a 3rd and 1st at Snetterton and 2nd, again in Intermarque, at Silverstone in August.
In 2003, 394074 sold via well known Porsche restorer and engine builder Neil Bainbridge to Richard Windward. During 2003 and 2004 Neil ran the car for Mr. Windward in a number of rounds of the Porsche Modified series in club events. Not seeing too much use, Neil put the car up for sale on Mr. Windward’s behalf in November 2006 and not long after, 394074 was a purchased by Chris Goodwin.
During Mr. Goodwin’s ownership he rebuilt the engine and gearbox in-house over the winter of 2010 into March 2011. The engine was fully stripped with new piston rings fitted. The valves we re-lapped and new valve springs fitted. The oil pumps were rebuilt, injectors cleaned and the engine dyno tested. In the gearbox, the crown wheel and pinion was replaced, the limited slip differential rebuilt, diff bearings replaced, 1st and 2nd syncros replaced, shims reset, 1st and 2nd sliding hub replaced and the oil pump rebuilt.
Also a new fire system was fitted, the air jacks were re-sealed, power steering hose replaced, fuel tank re-foamed, the brakes were overhauled, suspension rebuilt, the suspension geometry was set up by Machtech and the electronics were checked and repaired where required.
As far as we are aware, the car was only used once during his ownership. It was loaned to Porsche UK for a special edition of Porsche Experience TV, which took place at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone in late 2011. This can be seen via this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsZecCgTkJE .
In October 2013, 394074 was purchased by the current owner. An experienced Porsche collector, he returned the car to its evocative 1998 Sony Playstation Le Mans livery. During his ownership they have tested the car once and there is believed to be only between one and two hours on the engine and gearbox since the restoration back in 2011.
With 1990s GT cars continuing to be in high demand for Peter Auto’s Endurance Racing Legends and the Masters Endurance Legends Series, this car is still running its original shell (rare for these cars), still fitted with its very rare, ultimate specification M64/84 engine complete with Secan intercooler, add to that its multiple Le Mans 24 Hour history and in its evocative 1998 Le Mans Sony Playstation livery, it surely has to be a top of the list for both racers and collectors alike.