The forgotten 911 GT1
How a Canadian businessman owned up to four 911 GT1 race cars at some point
Porsche had been working on a WSC prototype for the 1995 season, a car that should have run at Le Mans but was canceled for political reasons we've covered in the previous post. From that point they fully focused on the 911 GT1 program and were able to produce a car in early 1996.
They famously took a 1-2 win in GT1 category but were beaten overall by their own WSC-95 car, loaned to Joest Racing. Despite this the car made a huge impression (probably more that if they won with the prototype in fact !) as it was the strongest sign of a return to their GT roots. Indeed since the wild 935/78, their top motorsport effort has always been achieved with Group 6 or Group C cars.
The works Porsche 911 GT1 achieved a 1-2 win in GT1 class but were 2nd and 3rd overall at Le Mans in 1996.
While working on a new version, they sold the 1996 model to privateers. The teams were all invited for a test session that took place in Italy in November, on the Mugello racetrack. All 911 GT1 race cars have a VIN similar to the production models (starts with WP0ZZZ) and a plate bolted in the cockpit with a 993-GT1-xxx format. The works cars last three digits start with a 0 : 001, 002, 003 were the 1996 cars. 004, 005, 006 were the 1997 Evo cars. The customer cars on the other hands have a 1 as the first digit : 101, 102 and so on.
Customer 911 GT1 delivery at Mugello. From left to right JB Racing (#101), Kremer Racing (#104), BMS Scuderia Italia (#106), Schubel Engineering (#102), Roock Racing (#108)
Unbeknown to many people, Porsche also sold #107 to a Canadian customer. Klaus Bytzek and his brother Harry raced extensively during the 70's : Daytona 24 Hours on a 2.0L 911 T, then 914/6, 911 S, 908/02, Carrera RSR up until 1980. Apparently having some success in business, they watched the 1996 Le Mans edition with interest and ordered a brand new 911 GT1. But were to race it ? There's no such thing as homeland and in 1997 Klaus Bytzek created the Canada GT Challenge Cup with rounds in Mosport Park and Shannonville. He also participated in the IMSA GTS races but sadly crashed his brand new car at the first corner of Road Atlanta.
#107 on the grid of the '97 SportsCar GTS Road Atlanta 2 Hours
The car was rebuilt by Porsche as they needed a T-car for the Laguna Seca round of the newly created FIA GT Championship. The factory didn't use it but Bytzek got a brand new car, rebuilt in the exact same specs (this is important for the next part of the story).
During the 1997 European season the private 911 GT1 saw a lot of action and trading. Two chassis were upgraded to Evo specs. #109 was acquired by JB Racing in replacement of #101 and was upgraded by the factory. Roock Racing bought #102 and upgraded it with the factory kit but didn't race with it. In fact they sold it to Bytzek Motorsport for the 1998 season of the Canada GT Challenge Cup. At this point BMS had two 911 GT1 : #102 (Evo) and #107. Harry Bytzek easily won the title that year, battling against his brother, Camaro and Firebird race cars.
At the start of the 1999 season, #102 was badly damaged at Mosport Park during the start sequence. Car was totaled and Bytzek was even harmed at the leg.
This is where enters 993-GT1-117. Porsche provided a spare chassis (hence the x1x in the identification, different from the works and privateer cars) and rebuild the car, directly in Evo specs. In the meantime Bytzek raced with #107 (Rounds 3, 5, 6, 7). Chassis #117 was ready for Round 8 where it continued its winning streak. Needless to say, he won again in 2000.
993-GT1-117 with a rather serious front splitter - picture by Horven back in the days
To get a little more challenge, Bytzek took the decision to go back to Daytona for 2001, nearly 30 years after he first did on a 2.0L 911. This is were it gets interesting because he engaged no less than three 911 GT1 Evo. #117 was there, #102 has been rebuilt by that time and he bought #004 from Parr Motorsport as a T-car. Since #107 was still in his property, this means in 2001 he owned no less than four 911 GT1 cars (3 in Evo specs) !
It should also be noted than in 2001 Gunnar Racing engaged #005 at Daytona, making four Evo cars competing that year. Kinda outdated at the time, best result was 6th overall / 3rd in class for #102, 41st (9th) for #107 and 78th (14th) for #005. As #004 was a T-car it didn't compete. Bytzek went back the following year with #102 and #117. The later suffered an accident in practice while the former had engine issues and was classified 78th overall (5th in class).
#117 was sold in the UK and restored by Lanzante during 2015 where it was converted for street use. The car was auctioned at Monaco in 2016 and created a buzz. Remember that ?
993-GT1-117 being presented for the 2016 Monaco auction by RM Sotheby's
993-GT1-107 in Porsche Oakville showroom - Toronto
#117 recently made his way to Australia and was seen very recently during The Bend Classic (Bend Motorsport Park - SA).
993-GT1-117 by Marcus Cardone