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04 Apr 2018

Wheels in motion

Porsche’s national network is working overtime to get on track.

Porsche’s national network is working overtime to get on track.
Words: Matt Master
Photos: Richard Pearce
In a little over a month’s time, 16 race-prepared Boxsters will take to the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, wheel-to-wheel, tooth and nail, in the first round of Porsche’s all-new Restoracing competition.
Previous projects have witnessed the restoration of the 924 and 911, with Official Porsche Centres around the country invited to find, restore and show a classic, but 2018 will be the first time these same centres have been asked to take them racing.
So the focus of a lot of late nights around the country right now is the 986 Boxster S. This is the car, marking its twentieth anniversary this year, that each centre has been tasked with sourcing and converting to race specification, before competing in a high-profile six race series spread over three weekends across the summer.
“After three successful restoration competitions, we wanted to do something different to celebrate 20 years of the Porsche Boxster,” says James Toye, Business Development Manager at Porsche. “The 986 Boxster is an important part of Porsche’s history and for many their first step into the brand. Racing the Boxsters in grass roots level motorsport not only illustrates just how good these cars still are but also gives Centres the chance to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and passion for Porsche Classic.”
So the classifieds have been poured over, leggy 3.2-litre cars snapped up and driven, or as often towed, to their respective centres before being stripped back to bare a body shell. Then they have been painted in iconic liveries in readiness for the painstaking process of rebuilding them to an as-new standard, and to MSA regs.

The cars are intended to race as close to road spec as possible, but must be fitted with a welded full roll cage, hard top, single race seat and harness, fire extinguisher and exterior battery isolator. Other than that, they are pretty much as they left the factory, with standard Sport suspension and wheels, shod in road legal Pirelli P-Zero Trofeo R rubber.
The unique and most distinctive element of each entrant will be its livery, recalling such heroes of Porsche’s competitive past as the Salzburg 917, Martini cars and the infamous Pink Pig. Many of these finishes are being hand painted too, as the teams will be awarded points based on the quality of their restoration as well as its performance on track.
There are 16 centres on board, from all corners of the country, and the competition is expected to be fierce. Each centre must field a driver from within its staff – no ringers here – who will have to qualify for a national racing license. The cars will then run in Class 3 as part of the Club Championship, racing on the same grid as the faster classes, but on road tyres, standard suspension and with an almost stock minimum weight.
As the season start approaches, the main challenge for all the teams is time. The restorations must play second fiddle to the daily demands of running a busy and successful Porsche Centre, so it’s been afterhours, both long into winter evenings and over whole weekends, when the various team members, junior and senior, young and old, make most of their headway.

Some centres have opted to completely rebuild engines, while others have hedged their bets by buying in new short engines from Porsche and merely refreshing the heads and ancillaries. The drivers being fielded are equally varied, with Dealer Principals stepping up alongside junior technicians. Some have raced competitively for years, while others are limited to a handful of track days and must now apply for a national race license.
Those all-important liveries are starting to come together too. Wolverhampton’s Pink Pig is as bold as it is unmistakeable, Bournemouth’s early ‘hippie car’ psychedelia just as impressive and instantly familiar. Up close, the carefully applied (and properly painted) Salzburg stripes in Wilmslow are further testament to the remarkable attention to detail on these builds.
The series is being supported by Porsche GB, with wheels and tyres, races suits, boots and licenses all being supplied, but the lion’s share of the cost, both in terms of outlay and hours, will be down to each individual OPC. The teams will be allowed to compete in all the events of the championship if they so wish, but the three that will count towards the trophy are Brands Hatch on May 5th, Silverstone on June 2nd and a return to Brands for the Festival of Porsche on September 2nd.
It promises to be a spectacular little series, hard fought by every centre who has taken up the challenge. Good luck to all the runners and riders. Let the fun begin…

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