Porsche 911 (996) GT1-98 #26 – Spark

1998 Porsche 911 (996) GT1-98 
Pilots: A. McNish, S. Ortelli, L. Aïello 
Team: Porsche AG 
Race: 1st overall (GT1 class) at Le Mans in 1998 
Spark - 43LM98 (resin) 

Published 11/09/18

Since the 956 and 962, Porsche didn’t have a works team. In the early 90’s the manufacturer concentrated their racing efforts in the racing version of the 911, sold to privateers. But in the mid-1990’s, with the advent of the GT1 class, Porsche started the development of a 911 based car. At the time, what most manufacturers did was heavily modifying a road car into a GT1 car. However, Porsche didn’t follow the norm by developing a race version of the road-going 911. Instead, in 1996 they created what was effectively a purpose built sports-prototype, the 911 GT1. For 1998, FIA drastically changed the rules and road car requirements were all but scratched. Interestingly, regulations determined that only one street-legal version of the car was enough for homologation.

One of the most beautiful prototypes ever IMO.

With the new rules Porsche started working on the new car. It would be a full-blown prototype race car, in design and construction – the all-new GT1-98. One of the big features of the car was its full carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a first for Porsche. Lighter and stronger than the previous steel chassis, it allowed a more advanced front suspension. The engine was a 3198 cm³ flat-6 with 24 valves and DOHC, delivering 536 ponies to the tarmac. Only three cars were made, two for the works team and one street-legal version.

Spark really shined with this one.

At Le Mans that year Porsche enrolled both cars, and they would face Toyota’s GT-One and Nissan’s R390 GT1. Even though small problems required lengthy pit stops, both cars managed to finish on top and only one lap apart. The GT1-98 is one of my all-time favorite prototypes, a true grail model. Last year I bought the Altaya version of the car, which in effect is a quite decent model. But for this one I had to have a GOOD model, so I finally got the Spark version. And I couldn’t be happier: AWESOME car!

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