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Hit The Road, Jack

It’s the Singer not the song………………

Last Man Standing
  A five-minute standing ovation was accorded to Norbert Singer, Porsche’s senior
engineer in charge of racing car design, at the Porsche Cup awards in Weissach
on December 18. Singer celebrated his 65th birthday in November, straight after
attending the final round of the FIA GT Championship in Zhuhai, but was invited to
complete a six-week extension, to December 31, before retiring.

  I don’t think that Ing. Singer has actually gone, any more than Alwyn Springer
went after a similar farewell in December 2003. Norbert, if I may call him that, has
done some aero work on the unlovely Fabcar Porsche (“just a first step”) and will
be with the Brumos Racing team at the Rolex 24 trials at the beginning of January,
and at the race on February 4-5.

  After that, Norbert and his wife Doris will be guests of Porsche at the Le Mans
and Spa 24-hour races, and finally at the Petit Le Mans on October 1. Why, you
may well ask, should the man want to take his wife to four endurance races after
35 years of dedicated, globe-trotting service? Well, he has accepted the offer of a
12-month consultancy, presumably to see to any unfinished business. If that
involves any new projects, nobody is telling.

Close But No Cigar
  Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, a stranger to the Porsche Cup awards, led the tributes
to Norbert, even gave him a king-size cigar which he smoked right through, no
mean task for a man who gave up smoking many years ago.

  Sixteen friends and colleagues were chosen to present Norbert with a bottle of
fine wine, each one representing a Porsche Le Mans victory in which he has had
a hand. Jochen Mass was one, making a very touching remark: “It was great to
work with you as an engineer, but as a human being and a philosopher, you were
the best!”.

  Former competitions director Herbert Ampferer, who says he is “very happy”
being the director in charge of environmental studies, was another, and the rest of
the troop included Peter Falk, the man who hired Norbert 35 years ago, team
doctors Juergen Lindemann and Georg Huber, Horst Marchart, Manfred Schurti,
Gilles Thomas (Michelin), Alwyn Springer, Manfred Jantke, Peter Falk, Dieter
Glotzbach (Dunlop), Klaus Bischof, Dave Maraj and Kaye Wilson.

All The Stars Go Out At Night
  The huge Casino restaurant at Weissach was given a nightclub atmosphere for
the awards ceremony, which was attended by close on 500 people, on a rough
table count. Among the guests were Jim France and Roger Edmondson from
Daytona, Scott Atherton and Doug Robinson from IMSA, and from the ACO, Daniel
Poissenot and Daniel Perdrix. The FIA was not represented, as far as I could see,
but Juergen Barth presents a card the SRO logo, and the London address, and
reveals that he will take early retirement in June, at the age of 57.

Raised On Robbery
  The American guests were pretty sure that Craig Stanton would be the Porsche
Cup winner, and there were mutterings of “we wuz robbed” when Stephane Ortelli
was announced as the winner, the recipient of a big trophy and a cheque for
€37,000, pushing Stanton into second place, and Emmanuel Collard into third.

  You need to understand the refinement, that FIA GT Championship winners
Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen are contracted to the factory and are therefore
not eligible for Porsche Cup points. Ortelli and Collard are not contracted and
therefore scored full points even when beaten by their German teammates.

  Stanton and David Murry were second and fourth respectively after a fine season
with the Petersen Motorsport/White Lightning team, including third in the GT class
at Sebring and five more podium results in ALMS. Stanton won six Grand-Am Cup
races, Murry three, and right behind them were Johannes van Overbeek and
Darren Law, who drove their Flying Lizard Porsche to victory at Mid-Ohio and were
runners-up in the ALMS GT category.

  Porsche will build a series of 10 new GT3 RSRs this winter, with 450 bhp and
some refinements, each costing €279,000 and presumably these will be the last
on the 996 chassis. An undisclosed number of GT3 Cup cars will be delivered in
time for the 2005 season based on the 997 chassis and intended for the
international Supercup, and national Cup series throughout Europe, Asia, Japan
and Australia.

  A nice little earner, that should be, but still excellent value at €121,500. The new
Cup cars have ceramic brakes, six speed sequential gearboxes and 400
horsepower, only 50 bhp less than the RSR at less than half the price.

  After five full seasons, Porsche’s RS/RSR still looks almost unbeatable in the
GT2 class, unless the Ferrari 360 teams get lucky. Maybe the new Ferrari 430 will
give the Porsche teams a good run, but we have to wait until 2006 to find out.

Michael Cotton
December 2004

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