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Auto blogMon, 21 Oct 2013 11:29:00 EST
The 16th Petit Le Mans Powered By Mazda, in the final year of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, was run on Saturday. Even though many of this year's championships had already been decided, the last ALMS race ever would be a 10-hour, 1,000-mile slog around Road Atlanta to get names in the record books and decide a few series trophies.
Since some of you will only get around to your TIVOs (or Fox Sports coverage) today, you should stop reading now if you don't want to know who did what...
You might think that sports cars would have the lowest drag coefficient of all cars. And yes, they do tend to be more slippery than, say, SUVs or convertibles, but the sleekest vehicles on the road tend to be EVs, hybrids and luxury sedans. Sports cars, on the other hand, have aerodynamically detrimental needs for downforce and additional engine cooling. Still, the Porsche 911 is better than most, and has only gotten more so over the years. Its relatively narrow track and compact form mean it has a smaller frontal area than some other sports cars, and the gradual sweeping back of its headlights and windshield have only augmented its capacity for cheating the wind.
This 911 prototype, however, is even more aerodynamic than most. It's based on a "G model" 911 from 1984, but employed such features as covered wheels, a new rear spoiler and a reprofiled front end to drop its drag coefficient from 0.40 to 0.27, making it as slippery as a modern sedan and better at cheating the wind than just about anything built up to that point, save for maybe the Tatra 77, Citroën SM or Tucker Torpedo.
Elements of this prototype ended up gradually making it into production Porsches for years to come, and you can clearly see early influences on the second-generation 964 and even on the 959. It's featured here as the latest installment in a video series on rare historic Porsches unearthed from the company archives, following previous clips that featured a rare V8-powered 911 and a mid-engined 911 prototype. Scope out the latest episode in the video below.
Statements made by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo may indicate that the Italian brand could return to a form of racing it's been absent from for 40 years - prototype racing. That's right, LMP1 could see a factory Ferrari team for the first time since 1973, if a report from ESPN F1 is to be believed.
"We have won with the 458 GTE, but I also quite like the idea of racing at Le Mans in the highest category: who knows, maybe one day we can return and win, say thanks and come home," Montezemolo said. "Maybe we should give it some consideration..."
These seemingly idle, off-hand comments might not hold much water, were rumors about Ferrari's return to prototype racing not swirling as recently as August. There's also the fact that the upcoming, 1.6-liter, turbocharged V6 being used for Formula One complies with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's own LMP1 regulations, according to ESPN. Finally, Ferrari returning to Le Mans might also explain this video of a camouflaged Ferrari LaFerrari testing a new turbocharged engine, which we showed you a few weeks back. There's a fair chance that what we're actually seeing in that video are the early stages of a new Ferrari prototype testing.