1998 Porsche 911 (996) GT1-98 test car HPI - 470019 (diecast)
In 1995, with the advent of the GT1 class, Porsche decided to get back at high-level racing. Since it wasn’t feasible to make the current 911 (993) GT2 competitive for GT1 racing, they started from scratch. The new 911 GT1-96 was basically a purebred prototype racer, but with one road legal specimen for homologation. It had a steel tube frame chassis and was powered by a water-cooled 3198 cm³ flat-6. And the effort paid off: first and second places in the GT1 class at La Sarthe in 1996. For the following year the GT1 received minor developments and became the GT1-96 Evo. Porsche had two cars at Le Mans, but both suffered with reliability issues and dropped out.
With the failure of the GT1-Evo, Porsche had to rethink their GT1 effort. So they went back to the drawing board, and the result was the new GT1-98. The big difference with the new car was the chassis. Porsche substituted the steel frame chassis for a full carbon fiber monocoque one. That was totally new for the manufacturer, and not only was it lighter, it also allowed a better front suspension. The engine was the same trustworthy 3198 cm³ flat-6 of the GT1-96. The new GT1-98 was not exactly faster than the competition, but it proved to be much more reliable. Thus, in the 1998 24 Heures du Mans, cars #26 and #25 came in first and second place overall.
This is the test version of the GT1-98, masterfully recreated in scale by HPI. This was how the car looked in February of 1998, piloted by Bob Wollek at the Weissach test track. Like with many HPI models, the engine cowl comes off, and on the GT1-98 test car so does the rear wing. Engine detail is not exactly stellar, but is quite decent. Of all my (few) HPI models the one with the best engine detail is without a doubt the Sauber C9. Still, even though not perfect, it’s a very nice feature.
The GT1-98 test car is probably not a model for everyone, but if you’re a fan of the GT-98 or test cars, this is a nice buy.