Dauer 962 LM: The Final Group C Le Mans Winner - Sort Of

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Image: Martin Lee via Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license
The Group C period was one of the golden eras of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. By 1994, it had ended - but the Dauer 962 LM carried on the legacy as arguably the final Group C winner at La Sarthe.

The 1990s were a period of change in racing. Formula One was greatly affected by the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix events, resulting in changes to cars and circuits around the globe. IndyCar split into CART and the IRL, seemingly damaging American open-wheel racing beyond repair in the process. And the World Sportscar Championship, which had carried the torch of the popular Group C cars, was no more, following dwindling entry counts that even forced the cancellation of the 1992 season finale at Jerez.

Endurance sports car racing faced a period of uncertainty as a result. There was no 1993 WSC, but Group C cars still raced at Le Mans in 1993, as the cars (particularly older models) were still in the hands of many teams. Only two works teams entered the top class for Group C machinery made to 1991 and 1992 spec, so the battle for the overall victory was fought between Toyota and Peugeot. Just like in 1992, the French marque had the upper hand in the end, with Éric Hélary, Christophe Bouchut and Geoff Brabham leading a Peugeot podium lock-out.

For 1994, a new class structure was introduced. Group C cars were still allowed to race in the LMP1/C90 class, albeit with heavy restrictions to downforce, fuel tank size, and more. The grid was completed by LMP2 machinery (essentially what was to become LMP1 prototypes later on), as well as LMGT1 and LMGT2 cars. The latter saw entries like the Honda NSX or Porsche 911 Carrera RSR - so what would be considered typical GT race cars by today's standards.

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The #35 Dauer 962 LM navigating Virage Mulsanne in the 1994 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Image: Martin Lee via Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The GT1 Car That Was Not Exactly A GT​

However, the LMGT1 class was the one to keep an eye on. Designed for racing versions of production-based cars, it saw the Bugatti EB110 SS, Venturi 600 LM, Porsche 911 Turbo or Dodge Viper RT/10 on its entry list - and two cars called Dauer 962 LM.

The number in the model designation should ring a bell, especially with how much this article has mentioned Group C so far. You see, Jochen Dauer, a former racing driver in DRM, DTM and WSC, had acquired five chassis of the Porsche 962C - the ever-successful sports prototype that made its debut in 1984 and racked up two Le Mans victories. By the early 1990s, the car was still popular with privateers, and often heavily modified by them.

Dauer's intention was to build road-going versions of the car - which he did. Of course, this required some modification, including a rear-facing camera replacing a traditional mirror. The Dauer 962 LM was first shown publically in 1993, and it was (and probably still is) one of the fastest road-going supercars ever made.

Less Restrictions And A Loophole​

Now, remember the LMGT1 class? To enter it, your car had to be based on a street-legal road car. The key in this homologation rule, though, was the number of road cars that had to be produced. 25 had to be built, but cars could already be entered if the production of these 25 examples was still in its planning stage - effectively, this meant that not even a single car had to have been made in order to enter.

And since the LMGT1 class was allowed to have a much larger fuel tank and more power than the LMP1/C90 class, albeit with a slightly higher minimum weigt and narrower tires, this opened a significant loophole. So, with support by Porsche (the cars were entered under the Le Mans Porsche Team name), Dauer took two of the chassis acquired in 1991 and created a racing version of the Dauer 962 road car.

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Group C versus LMGT1 - spot the difference! The #35 Dauer 962 LM (middle) in the middle of the pack at Le Mans. A Toyota 94C-V can be seen to the left in the background. Image: Martin Lee via Wikimedia Commons, available for distribution under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license

Of course, the 1996 to 1998 seasons of the BPR Global GT Series and FIA GT Championship were famous for manufacturers exploiting the GT1 rules by essentially building road-going racing prototypes to enter in the class, the Dauer 962 LM was the first such case.

Late-race Upset​

And it worked. The cars' driver line-up consisted of Hans-Joachim Stuck, Danny Sullivan and Thierry Boutsen in the #35, and Yannick Dalmas, Hurley Haywood and Mauro Baldi in the #36 entries, so plenty of experience from WSC, F1, and even CART was in the driver's seats.

The 962 LMs qualified in fourth and sixth, and compared to the fastest Le Mans lap of a Porsche 962C, they were about 20 seconds slower. The fastest 962C entered into the LMP1/C90 class, however, was 15 seconds slower.

For most of the race, it looked like Toyota would score their maiden Le Mans victory with one of their 94C-V. The Dauer cars had some difficulty, including a blown tire for Sullivan in the #35, as well as a fuel spill in the pits and failing headlights during the night on the same car. Additionally, both cars had to take it easy as the end of the race was approaching, as their driveshafts might not have lasted the distance otherwise. They were still at the sharp end of the grid, though.

Then, just 90 minutes before the checkered flag, Toyota's victory celebration plans fell apart. Jeff Krosnoff fsuffered a gear linkage failure, and the car lost 13 minutes for repairs, handing the lead to the #36 Dauer 962 LM, with the #35 in tow. Eddie Irvine managed to claw back P2 from Stuck/Sullivan/Boutsen, but Dalmas/Haywood/Baldi were too far ahead - finding the loophole meant victory at the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours!


A One-off Victory​

The cars would not return in 1995, as the regulations were adjusted further. The top class, now called WSC due to the IMSA WSC class, did see six entries, including the Ferrari 333 SP, which made its debut. All of the cars were open-cockpit protoypes, though, but the Kremer K8 Spyder still carried 962C DNA - essentially, it was a Group C Porsche with the roof removed. Hence, the "sort of" was added to the title of this article.

While a wild race in changeable conditions led to a McLaren F1 GTR of the LMGT1 class winning the 1995 race outright, another Group C derivative would take victory in 1996, that being the TWR Porsche WSC-95 based on the Jaguar XJR-14. It repeated the feat in 1997, marking the first of nine times Tom Kristensen won the event.

Dauer 962 road cars were produced until 2002, but the company has been inactive since the early 2000s. Dauer himself was sentenced to 42 months in prison for tax evasion in 2010 - he had been found guilty of avoiding to pay about €5 million in taxes from his sportscar business.

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The actual car may not be in Assetto Corsa, but one of its liveries is for the Porsche 962C Long Tail.

Dauer 962 LM In Sim Racing?​

With the abundance of mods, even of oddball cars, a Le Mans winner should be available for Assetto Corsa, right? Unfortunately, it does not look like it - at least we could not find a version of the Dauer 962 LM to race in AC.

What is there, however, is the livery of the #35 car, created by OverTake community member @BDA all the way back in 2016. The car skin is for the Kunos Porsche 962C Long Tail, which is part of the Assetto Corsa Porsche Pack Vol. 2 DLC - so the performance will not be representative, but at least your car will look like the third-place finisher of the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Additionally, a mostly period-correct of the Circuit de La Sarthe is also available in our download section, courtesy of @morizottom. Their mod portrays the track as it would have been in 1998 and 1999 - compared to 1994, the only difference is a slightly reprofiled Dunlop Chicane to start the lap.

Compared to the current version of Le Mans, the differences are more obvious: The run from the Dunlop Chicane to the "S" du Tertre Rouge is straight, there is hardly any paved run-off, and the hump on the Hunaudières straight heading into Mulsanne is still much higher than today.

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The infamous hump on the Hunaudières straight was flattened after Mercedes' CLR cars took off three times there in 1999.

The latter was lowered by a whopping 26 feet (about 8 meters) following the spectacular airborne accidents of Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck in 1999. Webber's Mercedes CLR prototype took off in the warm-up - after already flying in the air between Mulsanne and Indianapolis in qualifying. In the race, Dumbreck went off on the latter straight again. This led to Mercedes withdrawing from the event and sportscar racing altogether.

LMP900 Closes The Loophole​

By that time, the GT1 class had already been replaced by the LMP900 class - and while many cars looked similar to the GT1s of previous years, they were allowed to be full-on prototypes at this point. The loophole used by the Dauer 962 LM was closed - but the cars' story will probably remain one of the most unusual ones at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Did you know about the Dauer 962 LM's Le Mans victory before? What other oddball cars would you like to see highlighted in the future? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

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To add some context: The FIA only started hosting / sanctioning GT1 races at the start of the 1997 FIA GT Championship and they enforced a 25 car homologation requirement + 1 car for evolutions. The ACO (organizer of Le Mans) on the otherhand only required 1 homologation car so thats why cars such as the Dauer, TS020 or R390 only ran at Le Mans but not in the FIA GT Championship. Back to Le Mans 1994, the cars were entered by Joest because the factory Porsche team didnt have a license at that time. One homologation road car and three race cars were build.
 
I don't understand why iRacing refuses to add all Group C cars. I assume it would cheap to license since they are in Museums by now.
 
OverTake
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To add some context: The FIA only started hosting / sanctioning GT1 races at the start of the 1997 FIA GT Championship and they enforced a 25 car homologation requirement + 1 car for evolutions. The ACO (organizer of Le Mans) on the otherhand only required 1 homologation car so thats why cars such as the Dauer, TS020 or R390 only ran at Le Mans but not in the FIA GT Championship. Back to Le Mans 1994, the cars were entered by Joest because the factory Porsche team didnt have a license at that time. One homologation road car and three race cars were build.
Thanks for adding that :)

I think the Joest involvement was such that they actually ran the cars, but the team was officially called Le Mans Porsche Team, according to both racingsportscars.com (an absolute goldmine if you ask me!) and Wikipedia. Likely a similar arrangement to Cadillac Racing actually being Chip Ganassi Racing in 2023, for example.
 
Was there. I think this year was the one I went the most around the track seeking every possible and impossible posibility ways my pal slept in our tent, just next to the race track of roaring sounds.

And now?
Hyperpole goes hyperbole.
 
I don't understand why iRacing refuses to add all Group C cars. I assume it would cheap to license since they are in Museums by now.
Because the Vintage IMSA series showed that little people would race them. And I know because for years the Nissan ZX-T was my main car on iRacing.
 
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To add some context: The FIA only started hosting / sanctioning GT1 races at the start of the 1997 FIA GT Championship and they enforced a 25 car homologation requirement + 1 car for evolutions. The ACO (organizer of Le Mans) on the otherhand only required 1 homologation car so thats why cars such as the Dauer, TS020 or R390 only ran at Le Mans but not in the FIA GT Championship. Back to Le Mans 1994, the cars were entered by Joest because the factory Porsche team didnt have a license at that time. One homologation road car and three race cars were build.
The FIA quickly "forgot" that homologation requirement thought, right in the following year. Manufacturers still didnt care about the FIA GT champ because the turbo restrictor rules were different, and all Toyota and Nissan cared about was Le Mans anyways, which wasn't even part of the champ.
 
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I would say that the TWR "Porsche" was the last Group C car - sort of - to win Le Mans.
I really like how the car and project were canned by Porsche, but Joest convinced them to give him the one unused car, and then Porsche agreed to let Joest build a second car based on the prototype. Porsche would however not pay anything for working on it, and would need Joest to finance everything if they wanted any kind of Porsche-help.

I mean, even the original project wasn't factory backed, it was just Porsche approved. The Joest-thingy was more like "ok then, you can do it. It has nothing to do with us though". I mean, as far I know, Ross Brawn is still seen as one of the designers of the car. The fact that a Joest "Porsche" carried the Tom Walkinshaw Racing name on the car and entry show how much TWR and Jaguar Group C it really was in the car.
 
I would say that the TWR "Porsche" was the last Group C car - sort of - to win Le Mans.
I really like how the car and project were canned by Porsche, but Joest convinced them to give him the one unused car, and then Porsche agreed to let Joest build a second car based on the prototype. Porsche would however not pay anything for working on it, and would need Joest to finance everything if they wanted any kind of Porsche-help.

I mean, even the original project wasn't factory backed, it was just Porsche approved. The Joest-thingy was more like "ok then, you can do it. It has nothing to do with us though". I mean, as far I know, Ross Brawn is still seen as one of the designers of the car. The fact that a Joest "Porsche" carried the Tom Walkinshaw Racing name on the car and entry show how much TWR and Jaguar Group C it really was in the car.
I would push it one more year. 1998 may have been won by a GT1 homologation special, but the engine powering it was the final evolution of the 956/962 engines, which had their inception in sportscar racing back in 1981, before Group C cars debuted!!

Through different regulations, changes, and evolutions, the 956/962 debuted in 1982 as winner, and bowed out in 1994 as winner. Its engine debuted in 1981 (as a leftover of a stillborn CART programme) as winner, and bowed out in 1998 as winner.

That longevity and success makes in my books the Porsche 956/962 as the greatest racecar ever.
 
I would say that the TWR "Porsche" was the last Group C car - sort of - to win Le Mans.
I really like how the car and project were canned by Porsche, but Joest convinced them to give him the one unused car, and then Porsche agreed to let Joest build a second car based on the prototype. Porsche would however not pay anything for working on it, and would need Joest to finance everything if they wanted any kind of Porsche-help.

I mean, even the original project wasn't factory backed, it was just Porsche approved. The Joest-thingy was more like "ok then, you can do it. It has nothing to do with us though". I mean, as far I know, Ross Brawn is still seen as one of the designers of the car. The fact that a Joest "Porsche" carried the Tom Walkinshaw Racing name on the car and entry show how much TWR and Jaguar Group C it really was in the car.
I find it funny that now Porsche are adamant to claim that win as their own, when even most of the early development of the car was still made in the old North American Jaguar headquarters by the TWR personnel...
 
I find it funny that now Porsche are adamant to claim that win as their own, when even most of the early development of the car was still made in the old North American Jaguar headquarters by the TWR personnel...
They definitely count it in their list as it was an engine of them powering that car. But they never expose them as part of their heritage. I'm pretty sure Porsche actually hates that car, because it beat their factory efforts twice; they had to lay their hands on that car, put it under their umbrella, and slow it down so it did not interfere in 1998.
 
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I find it funny that now Porsche are adamant to claim that win as their own, when even most of the early development of the car was still made in the old North American Jaguar headquarters by the TWR personnel...
The development was done in NA thats true but it was done in part by Porsche engineers, at least according to Norbert Singer. Tony Dowe sold Porsche the idea of the flat six lmp based on the XJR-14 chassis as plug and play but when they first arrived at the TWR HQ to check on the progress they were disappointed, development was slow and more and more problems started arising. Porsche then sent out a small delegation of engineers and mechanics plus a whole lot of parts in october of 1994 to try to fix these problems and finish construction of the cars. The end result was an unfinished broken mess and Porsche bought the cars and canceld the project. Joest knew about the cars and hired Porsche to redevelop the aerodynamics which they did in late 1995.
 
For those who want to make this car themselfs from paper.
It's 1:24 but i scaled it 200% to 1:12

It's a great looking object for on your wall.
And a lot of fun making it.

 

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I don't understand why iRacing refuses to add all Group C cars. I assume it would cheap to license since they are in Museums by now.
Even more strange why they don't have a 1990s CART in their title. It's not a sim for fans of historic content.
 
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OverTake
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Even more strange why they don't have a 1990s CART in their title. It's not a sim for fans of historic content.
Having one of those would be excellent, as there are plenty of tracks they actually ran at that are already in iRacing. And for the most part, they have not changed very much, see Road America, Mid-Ohio or Belle Isle.

For many other vintage cars, I think the problem is the lack of period-correct tracks - something AMS2, for instance, does well. It's one thing to throw around a Lotus 49 at a modern day Spa-Francorchamps, still good fun without a doubt - but a late-60s track with insanely fast turns, no run-off to speak off and plenty of scenery to crash into makes for an entirely different experience. As it should be, as the cars were designed with these tracks in mind.
 
The development was done in NA thats true but it was done in part by Porsche engineers, at least according to Norbert Singer. Tony Dowe sold Porsche the idea of the flat six lmp based on the XJR-14 chassis as plug and play but when they first arrived at the TWR HQ to check on the progress they were disappointed, development was slow and more and more problems started arising. Porsche then sent out a small delegation of engineers and mechanics plus a whole lot of parts in october of 1994 to try to fix these problems and finish construction of the cars. The end result was an unfinished broken mess and Porsche bought the cars and canceld the project. Joest knew about the cars and hired Porsche to redevelop the aerodynamics which they did in late 1995.
Porsche cancelled the project later. Singer would "sing" his own tune of course.

The project was cancelled because IMSA changed the rules, afraid that this car would start a new era of Porsche domination. The car was entered into the 24h of Daytona, only to be withdrawn later. The poster of that race with both the porsche and the Ferrari still exists. With nowhere to race, and after taking over the tubs, Tony Dowe said that porsche needed to pay for them and the work, to which they begrudly agreed.
 
I would push it one more year. 1998 may have been won by a GT1 homologation special, but the engine powering it was the final evolution of the 956/962 engines, which had their inception in sportscar racing back in 1981, before Group C cars debuted!!
You might be able to add another 26 years to it if a McLaren 720S takes the LMGT3 win this weekend, as the McLaren V8 engines are all based on the VRH35 engine design they bought from Nissan, an engine that first saw service in the R89 Group C car.
 
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