Technical data

40 years of Group C – a meeting in Leipzig

The most successful Porsche racing car of all time meets its Porsche drivers in Leipzig. In the press room they explain the most important technical steps and developments.

Derek Bell is now 81, but when the lean Brit gets into “his” Porsche 956, he looks sleeker than ever. Yet whereas 40 years ago he seemed to just be doing his job, today he concedes: “We worked like crazy.” By ‘we’ he means all the racing drivers who have driven the Porsche 956/962 ‘supercar’ models at race speeds – although for today’s purposes he is particularly thinking of Jochen Mass, Hans- Joachim Stuck and Bernd Schneider. They all came to Leipzig to share their very special personal memories of the most successful Porsche racing car of all time. 40 years ago began the era of Group C.

Bernd Schneider, Timo Bernhard, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, gd, 2022, Porsche AG

Bernd Schneider, Timo Bernhard, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass (lr)

Mechanic Alexander Wiggenhauser and racing driver legend Derek Bell, gd, 2022, Porsche AG

Mechanic Alexander Wiggenhauser and racing driver legend Derek Bell (lr)

Racing driver legend Hans-Joachim Stuck, 2022, Porsche AG

Racing driver legend Hans-Joachim Stuck

Group C racing drivers: Derek Bell, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Jochen Mass, gd, 2022, Porsche AG

Group C drivers: Derek Bell, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Jochen Mass (lr)

At the Porsche Experience Center in Leipzig, Bell and his colleagues met the winning car from the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans with chassis number 956-002. Also present was the 956 with chassis number 956-005, which won the 1,000 kilometer races at the Nürburgring and Spa, among other triumphs. This race car was fully restored by the Porsche Museum and returned to its 1983 livery. These cars were also joined by the 1984 IMSA-spec 962, which posted the fastest qualifying time at Daytona, and the 962 C which won the Supercup in 1987, both also restored to their original glory. Alongside them, the 962 C with the starting number 17, winner at Le Mans in 1987. Also present was the youngest representative of Group C, fourth at Le Mans in 1990: the 962 C with the chassis number 962-015, from Joest’s customer team.

The meeting was also attended by then test engineer Helmut Schmid and – joining via video – Norbert Singer, the project leader and metaphorical father of the legendary car. Such an assembly of experts and stars needed a host who could meet them on an equal footing – in this case Timo Bernhard, winner of Le Mans in 2010 with AUDI and 2017 and two-time World Championship winner. ‘Endurance with Porsche. “The 956 is the most successful racing car in Porsche history. It dominated everyone. And it remained a winner for an incredible 12 years,” he said to kick things off. The 956 was unbeaten at Le Mans from 1982 to 1985, and that success was continued unmolested by its successor, the 962 C, which took first place in the 24 Hours of Circuit de la Sarthe in 1986 and 1987.

Impressive list of successes

The car’s record is indeed impressive: five constructors’ and teams’ titles, 43 individual victories in WEC races, five WEC drivers’ titles, seven overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (from 1982 to 1987 with the 956 and 962 and with the 962 Dauer Le Mans GT in 1994), four IMSA titles, 52 individual wins in IMSA races and five wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Jochen Mass summed it up in one word: “Thank you, Norbert, for making this possible!”

No wonder the protagonists are in good spirits – after all, they start the day flying in formation in their racing cars on the 3.7 km FIA-certified PEC Leipzig circuit, the design of which recalls some of the most famous sections. race tracks around the world. Although the drivers weren’t going as fast as they would have done back in the day, everyone got goosebumps as the powerful racing cars, with their distinctive engine notes, raced down the straight one after the other. The fact that the cars can still be driven this way is thanks to the Historic Motorsport team of the Porsche Heritage and Museum department and coordinator Armin Burger.

Group C preparations

Group C’s success is the result of “learning by doing” and an incredible degree of discipline.

The beginnings of Group C

Although time was tight, testing was essential.

Group C milestones and developments

The Porsche dual-clutch gearbox and the Porsche 962 date back to Group C.