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Porsche: Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen - Chapter 61: Ultra-Grand Touring 1999–2003

Porsche: Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen - Chapter 61: Ultra-Grand Touring 1999–2003

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Published by Bentley Publishers
Chapter 61: Ultra-Grand Touring 1999–2003, from the award winning book Porsche: Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen. For more information on this Porsche history book, visit http://www.bentleypublishers.com/porsche/
excellence-was-expected
Chapter 61: Ultra-Grand Touring 1999–2003, from the award winning book Porsche: Excellence Was Expected by Karl Ludvigsen. For more information on this Porsche history book, visit http://www.bentleypublishers.com/porsche/
excellence-was-expected

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Published by: Bentley Publishers on Mar 13, 2012
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Chapter 61:
Ultra-Grand Touring
1999–2003
 
n 2003 Porsche’s Leipzig plant manager Siegfried Bülowhad to go back to his 8,000-strong pool of potentialemployees because he anticipated needing 70 more staffto carry out another task for Porsche: the assembly at Leipzigof the Carrera GT. At the Detroit Show on January 8, 2002,Wendelin Wiedeking announced that in the second half of2003 Porsche would go ahead with the production of a refinedversion of the exotic open two-seater that it unveiled, to gen-eral astonishment, at the Paris Louvre on September 28, 2000.For its new model Porsche revived a designation first usedin 1957 for a lightweight version of the four-cam Carrera, acar cut out for competition. The twenty-first-century CarreraGT, however, was conceived not as a racer but as the ultimateroadgoing Porsche. “With theCarrera GT,” said Wiedeking, “wewant to do more than just demon-strate our technical competence inthe sports-car segment. This vehiclealso mirrors the strength anddynamic self-confidence of the com-pany and the Porsche brand.”
Carrera GT Gestation
The new Carrera GT traced its ori-gins to cars built for racing. Apartfrom its success at Le Mans, Porschewas shut out in its 1998 GT-racingseason. Breathing asthmaticallythrough restrictors, its turbochargedengines were denied the power thatcould have made them competitive.Particularly lacking, said Norbert Singer, were the mid-rangetorque and response needed to accelerate away from the slowcorners that proliferated on the latest race-track designs.Drawing a line under the turbo-blown era, motorsportschief Herbert Ampferer recommended that Porsche face itsracing future with naturally aspirated engines. Work on such
1473
 Above left: A cutaway drawingrevealing the machinery(see page 1486) Above right:Displaying a powerfulPorsche identity, theproduction Carrera GT(see page 1484)Left:With its rear wing highand lusty V-10 scream-ing, the Carrera GT wasPorsche’s clear state-ment that it wasn’t goingto be upstaged in itsown territory by super-cars from other automakers large or small.
Engaging wholeheartedly in the “mine’sbigger than yours” supercar competitionamong the major auto makers, Porschereached back to an aborted Le Manscontender for the technology to createa supercar of its own to show that theZuffenhausen company wasn’t ready to yieldto anyone when it came to ultra-quick andultra-costly sports cars.
I
 
CHAPTER
61
ULTRA-GRAND TOURING |
1999—2003
1474
an engine was put in hand to power a new open GT1 two-seater, the LMP 2000. On November 28, 1998, Porscheannounced at its annual motorsports gathering that it wouldnot compete in 1999 but would have a new racer ready forthe 2000 season. “We decided to stop for one year,” saidHorst Marchart, “and develop a complete new car.”Ampferer had recent experience to draw upon: the V-10 of3.5 liters that he’d built and tested to take the place of theType 3512 V-12 supplied to the Footwork Arrows team. Hisengineers, led by Thomas Ludenbach, scaled up the conceptof this engine to 5.5 liters, keeping the 68-degree vee anglethat they’d used with the earlier unit. This angle had beendetermined as the optimum after an extensive series of ana-lytical studies of bank-angle options and 16 different firingorders. That it was not identical to the 72-degree spacing ofthe crankshaft’s big-end throws proved irrelevant in practice.Twin overhead cams for each cylinder bank were gear-driven and opened four valves per cylinder. The V-10’s maincastings were aluminum, using a Nikasil coating directly onthe cylinder bores. The cylinders were cast integrally with theblock to keep the engine as short as possible—22½ incheslong—and also stiff enough to be used as the rear portion ofthe frame.Much like Honda’s Formula OneV-12, the new Porsche ten groupedits pumps and accessories in a casethat extended across the front of thecrankcase below the crankshaft nose,whence its train of gears was turned.A single water pump on the rightside served both cylinder banks. Theleft-hand bank was offset forward ofits mate to accommodate the side-by-side titanium connecting rods.Butterfly throttles controlled theMotronic-generated mixture to anengine capable of revving to 10,000rpm and producing 680 horsepower.For the rest of the LMP 2000Ampferer’s crew had drivetrain andsuspension componentry that wascarried over, with improvements,from the GT1/98. Britain’s Lola Com-posites produced a new carbon-fiberframe tub to Porsche’s designs, whileNorbert Singer went back to the tun-nel to develop an open body—alsoin carbon fiber—with marked bulgesover its wheelhouses.Although the program sufferedsome delays, a prototype LMP 2000was ready for tests at Weissach by the beginning of Novem-ber 1999. Among its first testers were Allan McNish andBob Wollek, the latter calling it “an excellent car.” All thatremained was to marry it to Porsche’s unmatched 24-hour-racing expertise and subject it to Weissach’s rough roads androllers and the long grinds around Paul Ricard. But this wasnot to be. On November 21 Porsche announced that the proj-ect would be halted. This was a “business decision,” it said,driven by the need to concentrate all engineering resources onthe development of its Cayenne.Cancellation of the LMP 2000 was a stunning disappoint-ment, wrote Mike Cotton. “Many people working at Weissachhave been betrayed by Dr. Wiedeking’s ‘U’-turn on motor-sport,” he said, “not least the dozens of engineers and techni-cians who have put their hearts and souls into the creation ofa new challenger, a vehicle that might well have beenPorsche’s 17th Le Mans winner.” Were Ferry Porsche still liv-ing, Cotton speculated, the promise of a year earlier wouldnot have been broken. In the two years since Ferry’s death,the Briton thought, “Porsche AG has become a vastly differentcompany to the one he knew, in which the accountants havefinally triumphed over the engineers. In 1999, it seems, profitcomes before pride.”Cotton was not alone in judging this decision harshly. Pop-ular and TV-friendly Supercup races were all very well, butPorsche’s friends and allies were accustomed to see it jousting
Early development work on the engine intended for the Carrera GT wasconducted on the LMP 2000’s four-camshaft V-10. The final engine wasupsized in capacity from 5.5 to 5.7 liters.

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