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993 Targa: air apparent?

The sky is the colour of slate, the temperature scarcely into single figures and there’s a fine drizzle hanging in the air. This isn’t a
Targa sort of day. 
Photographer Dan and I are killing time in the Paul Stephens showroom, ogling Porsches and contemplating a third mug of tea. Dan wants the rain to stop before he can start snapping, but there’s a fully-fuelled 993 Targa outside and I’m itching to get behind the wheel. Eventually, Dan relents. “We’ll just have to work around it,” he shrugs as we climb aboard, raindrops now drumming steadily on the glass roof.

The Targa itself started life as a work-around. Porsche feared the US would outlaw full convertibles on safety grounds, so the halfway-house Targa – with its fixed roll-hoop and removable metal roof – was a means to sidestep legislation back in the 1960s. The drop-top ban never materialised, but Porsche’s Targa proved a sales success and soon became a fixture of the 911 range. It evolved gradually for almost three decades until a radical reinvention in 1996. The 993 Targa had arrived.

Nobody could accuse the 993 of being a work-around. This thoroughly modern Targa boasted a panoramic glass roof that retracted electrically behind the rear window. No longer did the driver have to remove a heavy, cumbersome Targa top and find somewhere to stow it; the 993 morphed from coupe to near-cabriolet in around 10 seconds, and at the touch of a button. The engineering was complex, but the execution brilliantly simple.

The styling, too, was a study in subtle elegance. Interestingly, the 993 Cabriolet, upon which the Targa is based, had been designed to more closely resemble the Coupe. Stylist Tony Hatter said: “I never liked the look of the early Cabriolets. The classical 911 shape is the Coupe. With the 993, we tried to get some of that form into the roof.”

This thinking also permeates the Targa; to the untrained eye, it’s almost indistinguishable from its Coupe cousin. Drag coefficient, too, is an identical 0.33. Unless you happen to be looking from above, the rear side windows – which taper to a sharp point instead of a smooth curve – are the obvious giveaway. Note also the pop-up wind deflector aft of the front screen, two-piece alloys with five concave spokes, absence of rain gutters on the roof and ‘Targa’ script on the engine lid.

‘Our’ Arena red Targa is for sale for £52,995 at the time of writing. At some point during the past two decades, its factory split-rims have been swapped for the more familiar Cup alloys and the rear badge has gone missing but, aftermarket radio aside, the car is otherwise standard. “We rarely see modified 993s,” explains Tom Wood, sales executive at Paul Stephens. “Owners tend to keep them original and simply enjoy driving them.”

The roof remains closed, but I’m already enjoying this one. The expanse of thermally insulated, UV-resistant glass overhead feels like an aircraft-style canopy. It floods the cabin with light, an effect exacerbated by the Classic grey carpets and trim (most owners opted for Midnight blue or black). In contrast to the claustrophobic 993 Cabriolet, with its huge three-quarter blind spots and plastic rear window, the Targa feels airy and accommodating. It looks better than the Cab when ‘open’, too.

For the full road test article on the Porsche 993 Targa, order your copy of Total 911 issue 163 here or download to your Apple or Android digital device. 

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2016 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup: Hockenheimring, Germany report

Italian Porsche Junior, Matteo Cairoli inherited his third Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup victory of the season after fellow Porsche Junior (and home hero), Sven Müller was penalised for an illegal overtaking move on the first lap.

The in-house championship rivals’ battle began during qualifying at the Hockenheimring track, 50 miles north of Weissach. Lechner Racing’s Müller set his benchmark early in the session while Cairoli waited until the end to challenge.

However, the FACH Auto Tech driver’s final lap on new tyres was curtailed by a red flag with ended the session early, the Italian having to settle for second on the grid behind Müller (the latter heading into the German Supercup round with an 18-point lead after victory last time out in Hungary).

Müller may have lost out on a fourth Supercup win of 2016 but the German Porsche Junior still leads the standings ahead of Cairoli.

Müller may have lost out on a fourth Supercup win of 2016 but the German Porsche Junior still leads the standings ahead of Cairoli.

At the start, it was the Italian Porsche Junior who made the better start, diving up the inside of Müller at turn one. The German Porsche Junior though hadn’t given up, running off the track onto the tarmacked run-off before rejoining back in the lead.

Cairoli didn’t make the race easy for Müller, hounding the championship leader lap after lap and getting close to taking the lead after a late safety car period bunched up the field. However, his advances proved fruitless on the track as Müller took the chequered flag 0.4 seconds ahead.

The action wasn’t over though. Two hours after the chequered flag fell, the stewards deemed Muller’s opening lap move to have been performed illegally, handing the German a one-second penalty that promoted Cairoli to the top step.

Jeffrey Schmidt found a way passed Robert Lukas to take the final spot on the podium, the Swiss racer's second piece of Supercup silverware this year.

Jeffrey Schmidt found a way passed Robert Lukas to take the final spot on the podium, the Swiss racer’s second piece of Supercup silverware this year.

Behind the duelling duo, Jeffrey Schmidt (who stared at Hockenheim early in the year in the Carrera Cup Deutschland) equalled his third-place finish in Austria with another podium finish having forced his way passed Robert Lukas, the latter starting the race from third.

That grid slot would have been occupied by the third Porsche Junior in the field, Mathieu Jaminet if it hadn’t been for a ten-place penalty handed to the French Porsche ace for his role in the opening lap accident last time out at the Hungaroring.

Starting from 13th, Jaminet was aiming for eighth place after qualifying, an aim he achieved in the race with some clean overtaking moves. The result, however, has seen him drop from second to fourth in the points table, as Cairoli moves back into second, 16 points behind Müller.

For all of the latest Porsche race news and reports, make sure you check our dedicated motorsport section. 

A grid penalty for his Hungaroring accident meant French Porsche Junior, Mathieu Jaminet had to battle through the pack to take eighth in Germany.

A grid penalty for his Hungaroring accident meant French Porsche Junior, Mathieu Jaminet had to battle through the pack to take eighth in Germany.

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2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – podium and problems for Porsche 911 RSRs

While Porsche secured an unlikely 18th overall triumph, the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans was, largely, a race to forget for Porsche Motorsport’s GT department as numerous problems stymied its chances in the GTE-Pro class.

Contesting the full FIA World Endurance Championship, the no. 77 Dempsey-Proton entry of Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Le Mans third driver, Philipp Eng was joined by two one-off factory Porsche 911 RSRs for Le Mans.

Thanks to the questionable Balance of Performance changes handed out after the test day, the trio of GTE-Pro Porsche 911 RSRs couldn’t match the pace-setting Ford GTs and Ferrari 458s in qualifying, starting the race as ‘best of the rest’ in the GT ranks.

2016 Le Mans 911 RSR no 91

However, once the safety car returned to the pits after the first 52 minutes on Saturday, the wet track conditions did at least allow the no. 91 car of Patrick Pilet and no. 92 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki to star in the early stages, using the 911’s excellent traction to rocket into a one-two during the first hour.

Once the track began to dry, the two works Porsche 911 RSRs began to fall back though the no. 91 entry was able to just about to stick with the Ford and Ferrari battle, hanging on in fourth as the race passed the three-hour mark.

At this point however, Porsche’s day was about to take a turn for the worse, the no. 91 RSR returning to the pits shortly after Nick Tandy had taken over. A stone had pierced the radiator, necessitating a change that, while performed quickly, dropped the car out of contention.

2016 Le Mans 911 RSR no 92

Released back out onto the track, the no. 91 machine was still dropping radiator fluid too, the slippery surface left in its wake accounting for the race’s first retirement: the no. 89 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR in the hands of Marc Miller crashed heavily at the Dunlop Chicane having been leading the GTE-Am division early on in the hands of Leh Keen.

It wouldn’t be the no. 91 car’s last issue however. Just after midnight, while Kévin Estre was aboard, the Porsche 911 RSR’s engine grenaded itself dramatically in the Porsche Curves, forcing Pilet, Tandy and Estre into retirement.

By this point, mechanical maladies had also befallen the no. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Makowiecki, Earl Bamber and Jörg Bergmeister, a 12-minute pitstop spent repairing sheered drive pegs on the left rear upright delaying the car at 8pm on Saturday evening before the entry eventually retired in the early hours of Sunday.

2016 Le Mans Proton 911 RSR evening

Ultimately, it is unlikely that the Porsche 911 RSRs could have kept up with the dominant Ford GTs though, their overly favourable BoP allowing them to dominate, taking a one-three-four, split only by the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 in second.

This was certainly the case of the no. 77 car of Lietz, Christensen and Eng that struggled on, battling on the fringes of the top six in GTE-Pro before the need to replace a broken driveshaft on Sunday morning ultimately limited it to an eighth-place finish in class.

There was at least some cheer for the Porsche 911 RSR in the GTE-Am division however as Patrick Long, David Heinemeier Hansson and Khaled Al Qubaisi took the no. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton entry to a superb third place finish.

2016 Le Mans Proton drivers parade

The trio had shown great pace on Saturday to lead the class by over a minute at times before their setup choices saw them drop back to second during the night. Despite this, Long and the impressive ‘Silver’ graded Heinemeier Hansson cemented the team’s podium chances with superb pace on Sunday morning.

Gulf Racing’s Le Mans debut was similarly impressive, the British team enjoying a near fault-free run across the 24 Hours to eventually cross the line after 328 laps in fifth place (and 33rd overall).

The no. 86 Porsche 911 RSRs line-up of Adam Carroll, Michael Wainwright and Total 911 columnist, Ben Barker (the latter showing some impressive pace during his stints) finished just a lap behind the no. 77 GTE-Pro class 911 RSR.

For all the latest Porsche race news and report reports – including our 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP1 roundup – make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

Porsche 911 RSR (86), Gulf Racing: Michael Wainwright, Adam Carroll, Ben Barker

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2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – Porsche snatches unlikeliest 18th victory

With ten minutes of the race to go, the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid crew of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas believed their chance to win the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans was finally over after a slow puncture forced Jani to pit for new tyres just ten minutes from the chequered flag.

The stop for fresh rubber looked to have finally extinguished the no. 2 machine’s challenge after the trio had previously kept the leading no. 5 Toyota TS050’s advantage to just 30 seconds during the final hours.

However, as Kazuki Nakajima headed out onto the Mulsanne for the penultimate time with just six minutes left on the clock, the Japanese racer radioed to his team that the no. 5 entry had no power.

Even Porsche looked shocked when the lead Toyota coasted to a halt. Fritz Enzinger, Dr Oliver Blume and Wolfgang Porsche [L-R] look on is disbelief.

Even Porsche looked shocked when the lead Toyota coasted to a halt. Fritz Enzinger and Wolfgang Porsche [L-R] look on is disbelief.

The Toyota crawled around to the start-finish line, stopping dead just after beginning what should have been its final lap as, moments later, Jani flashed through in the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid to snatch the most unlikely lead in Le Mans history.

As the Toyota crew looked on in disbelief, the Swiss racer ticked off his final lap in a leisurely 3m59s to take a record 18th victory for Porsche at the legendary French endurance race, a race that had, since the break of dawn on Sunday, looked destined to mark Toyota’s first triumph.

24 hours earlier, the race was forced to start behind the safety car after a heavy rain shower during the on-grid ceremonies flooded parts of the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

The rain started behind the safety car before the Toyotas took the lead from the Porsche 919 duo in the early rain.

The rain started behind the safety car before the Toyotas took the lead from the Porsche 919 duo in the early rain.

When the cars were eventually released proper after 52 minutes, the track was nearly dry in places as many of the runners in other classes quickly switched to intermediate tyres.

Jani in the no. 2 Porsche led the way from Timo Bernhard in the sister no. 1 car as Weissach ran in front row formation until lap nine when the no. 6 Toyota of Mike Conway stormed into the lead, the 919 Hybrids struggling on their worn wet tyres.

The opening hours saw an incredible battle between all six manufacturer LMP1 entries as all six cars, at some point, led the race. However, the no. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro was the first to run into trouble, dropping out of contention in the sixth hour after having to replace a turbocharger.

The no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid kept Weissach's mechanics busy across the 24 hours.

The no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid kept Weissach’s mechanics busy across the 24 hours.

As the track dried, the Porsches came to fore on Saturday afternoon only to see the Toyotas hit back as the race headed into the evening, the no. 6 TS050 cementing its lead ahead of the no. 1 Porsche, while the no. 5 Toyota was third ahead of the no. 2 919 Hybrid.

Into the eighth hour, Jani led a resurgence for the no. 2 machine though, catching and passing Bernhard on track to take second place while the second Audi – the no. 8 entry – also dropped out of contention for victory with a similar turbocharger problem to its sister machine.

Just after the eight-hour mark, the no.1 Porsche 919 Hybrid’s victory hopes were similar extinguished when Brendon Hartley had to return to the pits with a massively high water temperature just one lap into a stint.

After its engine problems on Saturday evening, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard were forced to soldier on with an impossible catchup task.

After its engine problems on Saturday evening, Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard were forced to soldier on with an impossible catchup task.

The repair work – including replacing the water pump – would take over an hour, dropping the world championship-winning trio of Bernhard, Hartley and Mark Webber out of the top 50 overall. They would eventually finish 13th overall and fifth in the LMP1 class.

Through the night, the two Toyotas and the remaining Porsche battled hard, the no. 6 car leading from Jani, Lieb and Dumas in the no. 2 entry. The lead would swap back-and-forth during the dark hours, the two manufacturers running to different fuel and driver strategies.

Come the morning, it was the no. 5 Toyota though that had asserted itself at the head of the field, roughly 30 seconds ahead of the no. 2 Porsche. The 919 Hybrid had been running 13-lap stints to the TS050’s 14, forcing Porsche to make an extra stop and handing the advantage to the Japanese mark.

During the night, the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid took the the fight to the two Toyota TS050s, regularly taking the lead during the differing pitstop sequences.

During the night, the no. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid took the the fight to the two Toyota TS050s, regularly taking the lead during the differing pitstop sequences.

Despite the best effort of the Porsche crew, the no. 2 car could never make serious inroads into the no.5 Toyota’s lead, although the pressure from behind was at least released after the 22-hour mark when the third-placed no. 6 Toyota was forced to stop for four laps with a mechanical issue.

The 30-second status quo remained during the final hour and Toyota seemed destined for a first 24 Hours of Le Mans triumph when Jani had to pit on lap 381 with a slow puncture. However, the no. 5 car’s heartbreaking failure on the penultimate tour ultimately handed Jani, Lieb and Dumas and unexpected victory after 384 laps.

Unable to complete the final lap under the six-minute time limit, the no. 5 Toyota crew was not classified in the final reckoning. However, Porsche recognised the sterling effort of their Japanese compatriots, giving them a standard ovation after the race in the Porsche hospitality unit.

Come morning, Porsche were firmly in second place but victory was looking increasingly unlikely.

Come morning, Porsche were firmly in second place but victory was looking increasingly unlikely.

“First of all I would like to express my respect for the sensational performance which Toyota gave in this race. It was a great fight with them,” commended LMP1 vice president, Fritz Enzinger. “Shortly before the finish we had settled for second place until we suddenly claimed our second Le Mans victory in a row.”

The no. 6 Toyota of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Stéphane Sarrazin was classified second, three laps down, while the no. 5’s demise promoted Oliver Jarvis, Lucas di Grassi and Loïc Duval to third in the no. 8 Audi R18.

With double points awarded for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the result leaves the no. 2 Porsche crew on 94 points, 39 ahead of the no. 8 Audi with the no. 5 Toyota team a further point back in third. In the manufacturers’ battle, Porsche leads Audi by 32 points.

For all the latest Porsche race news and reports – including our 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE roundup – make sure you check out our dedicated motorsport section now.

Andreas Seidl, Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani [L-R] celebrate on the podium. For Lieb and Jani, this is their first overall Le Mans triumph.

Andreas Seidl, Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani [L-R] celebrate on the podium. For Lieb and Jani, this is their first overall Le Mans triumph.

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2016 24 Hours of Le Mans – Rain secures 18th pole for Porsche

Heavy rainstorms – that eventually forced Thursday night’s second qualifying session to finish prematurely – guaranteed Porsche its 18th pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after no one was able to improve on their Wednesday night lap times.

Conditions were forecast to be wet for Thursday’s two two-hour qualifying sessions however, the opening minutes of Q2 yesterday saw a dry track and a flurry of activity as the teams tried to better their Wednesday times.

Brendon Hartley started the session in the no. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid and, on his fourth lap, set a time of 3m23.307s as a benchmark for the session. The Kiwi ace’s lap was still some 3.5 seconds off Neel Jani’s pole time from Wednesday though and, when the rain returned after half an hour the grid was effectively set.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Porsche Team: Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Marc Lieb

Jani’s pole position (his second in as many years) is Porsche’s 18th at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Weissach will be hoping their front-row lockout is the precursor to chalking up victory no. 18 at the world’s most prestigious endurance race.

Qualifying though is just a small part of the Le Mans puzzle with the pole-sitting car winning just nine times in the 93-year history of the 24 Hour race, something that will buoy the hopes of the Porsche Motorsport squad in the GTE-Pro class.

Having seen a questionable Balance of Performance hand the new turbo cars from Ford and Ferrari a top seven lockout, the two factory Porsche 911 RSRs will start the race on Saturday from eighth and tenth in class, the GTE field also unable to improve their times from Wednesday.

Porsche 911 RSR no 92 Le Mans 2016 Q2

The no. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber, Frédéric Makowiecki and Jörg Bergmeister leads the charge with the sister no. 91 car of Nick Tandy, Kévin Estre and Patrick Pilet starting two places further back.

Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Philipp Eng in the no. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (contesting the full FIA WEC season) will start in 12th with the two GTE-Pro Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs behind it.

In the GTE-Am class, the no. 88 Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing entry is the highest placed Porsche 911 RSR on the grid as Patrick Long put in a heroic early lap during Thursday’s first session to improve to third in class.

Proton Porsche 911 RSR no 77 Le Mans 2016 Q2

The American factory ace (teaming up with Khaled Al Qubaise and David HeinemeierHansson) was one of the few drivers in the entire 60-car field to better their Wednesday time.

Wolf Henzler put the no. 78 KCMG Porsche 911 RSR (also run by Proton) he will share with Joel Camathias and Christian Ried into eighth on Wednesday while the no. 89 Weathertech Racing car, qualified by Leh Keen, will start tenth.

Gulf Racing’s return to Le Mans with the no. 86 Porsche 911 RSR will begin from 11th in the 13-car GTE-Am category however, the team will be buoyed by its pace in the soaking wet Q3 last night (similar conditions are expected for Saturday) where Ben Barker was the fastest in class.

The 84th 24 Hours of Le Mans starts on Saturday at 15:00 CET (14:00 GMT). You can follow the action on the Total 911 Twitter page and here on Total911.com.

Porsche 911 RSR (86), Gulf Racing: Michael Wainwright, Adam Carroll, Ben Barker

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