In 1992 and 1993 Joest Racing proved that you can still be successful with a racing car whose basic design is ten years old. With an in-house developed update kit for the Porsche 962, which had already made its race debut back in 1982 as a 956, the team brought the sportscar once again down victory lane. With quite possible the fastest version ever of the legendary sportscar from Stuttgart, the team from the Wald-Michelbach scored the last important victories on the international stage with the sports prototype, which was almost unbeatable around the world during the 1980s.
Project “Double Wing” began during the winter months of 1991/92. After cars with turbo-charged engines had been repeatedly ‘held back’ in favour of normally aspirated engines through the addition of ballast and smaller fuel tanks in Europe in the Sports Car World Championship since the beginning of the nineties, Joest swapped to the American IMSA Championship in 1991 with the previously uncompetitive Porsche 962, in which the race cars with forced induction had more room to manoeuvre. With the driver quintet John Winter, Frank Jelinski, Henri Pescarolo, Hurley Haywood and Bob Wollek the squad took victory at the 24-hour classic in Daytona. However, in the remaining races of the season it was clear that a 962, originating from a design almost ten years old, was no match, apart from in the reliability stakes, for the modern competition from Nissan and Eagle-Toyota. Although the 962.011 driven by Bernd Schneider and John Winter regularly made the finish, more than a couple of top five positions were not possible.
To be competitive in the following year again, Joest decided to rework the team’s two IMSA-962 prototypes. The complete water cooling system and oil system were modified, however the engineers spent more time on the 962 aerodynamics. For this Joest rented the Porsche wind tunnel in Weissach. Under the watchful eye of Porsche engineer Norbert Singer the modified race car sprouted its characteristic trademark – the massive double wing on the rear bodywork. “In doing so, we based our concept on the dominating car from the 1991 Sports Car World Championship, the Jaguar XJR 14 developed by today’s Ferrari Formula 1 designer Ross Brawn”, explained Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director and one of the two Joest Racing GmbH Managing Directors. To ensure that the air flow over the wing was more efficient the complete rear bodywork section was completely redesigned. In comparison to the standard 962 the bodywork fell steeply away immediately after the rear wheels. In connection with the new under-body the reworked sports car created considerably more downforce.
Because of manufacturing delays with the new components, after problems with production in Germany they were manufactured as a complete assembly from carbon fibre by a specialist English company, the two “Double Wing” 962 prototypes celebrated their debut at the third race of the 1992 IMSA season. In Road Atlanta the driver pairings John Winter/Oscar Larrauri and Gianpiero Moretti/Massimo Sigala took fourth and sixth position respectively first time out. And in the following races the drivers also regularly crossed the finish line in the top six. At the end of the year the two regular Joest drivers Larrauri and Moretti finished in fifth and sixth places.
In 1993 the team signed DTM star Manuel Reuter, who would return to the touring car series at the end of the year together with Joest and Opel. The German shared a cockpit with John Winter, while a second 962 was entered sporadically. The season began, as was tradition, with the 24-hour race in Daytona. “We really thought that we could win the race. Unfortunately we had engine problems, because the fuel supplied by the organiser was contaminated with water. The engines just couldn’t stomach it”, remembers Jüttner. Just how competitive Joest’s in-house development could be under certain weather conditions was demonstrated at the following 12-hour classic in Sebring. “Manuel Reuter drove a fantastic race back then. It had poured with rain. In wet conditions he was as much as seven seconds quicker than the leading Eagle-Toyota at that time”, remembers Jüttner. “However, he then had to pit to make a driver change, and Chip Robinson, who had taken over the car, went off in Turn 3 on his second flying lap. The complete front suspension was damaged in the accident. It wasn’t possible to repair the car.”
The following races were, however, more successful. In Road Atlanta, guest drivers Bob Wollek and Ronny Meixner were third in the 962.011, Reuter and Winter finished second at Watkins Glen. However, things went even better at Elkhart Lake in the middle of July where Winter/Reuter led home John Paul Jr. in a one-two finish for the “Double Wing” 962. It would be the last important international victory in the long career of the most successful Porsche race car of all time.
Just how fast the double-wing version of the 962 was became evident at the Le Mans pre-test in May. Bob Wollek and Frank Jelinski lapped the circuit seven seconds faster when compared with the classic long-tail 962. Two months later, however, Joest Racing relied on the proven long-tail version of the car in the race.
Engine: 6 cylinder flat, twin turbo charger
Capacity: 2869 ccm
Power: 680 hp at 8200 rpm
Gearbox: 5-speed gearbox, rear-wheel drive
Brakes: dual circuit brake system, steel discs
Front and rear suspension: Double wishbone with titan springs
Body: Aloy monocoque with composite bodywork
Weight: app. 850 kilo
Top-speed: app. 400 km/h