It is infrequent that Porsche does not aim for the very top class when designing a new sports racing prototype, yet, they often run at the front, victorious over those “faster” cars. The Porsche RS Spyder (9R6), designed for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) LMP2 class is part of this famous group that also includes the 550 Spyder, 904 Carrera GTS, and Carrera 6. Not bad company, especially when we consider that those cars garnered notable overall victories, cementing Porsche’s race department – Porsche System Engineering – as a giant killer before they became giants themselves.
Decades later, the RS Spyder proves that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Between 2006 and 2008 Porsche RS Spyders notched multiple overall victories, class championships, and yes, even a 1-2 overall victory against the LMP1 class Audis and Peugeots at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring proving yet again, that, even in the lower classes, Porsche often builds the car to beat.
By 2007, Porsche expanded its customer base for the updated RS Spyder to include Poughkeepsie, New York-based Dyson Racing. A regular ALMS entrant fielding Lolas since 2002, Dyson entered the competitive LMP2 class with two RS Spyders reportedly on lease from Porsche, and while their cutting-edge prototypes may have been from a new manufacturer, Dyson was well accustomed to top-level racing with Porsche, having successfully fielded multiple IMSA-GTP class Porsche 962s between 1986 and 1989.
As noted by a Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) build document, this 2007 RS Spyder, chassis number 9R6-705, finished construction on 26 January 2007. As an updated 2007 RS Spyder, it featured additional power and more aerodynamically efficient and attractive bodywork. Flown across the Atlantic, Dyson Racing had a short period of acclimatization and testing before painting the car in their longtime sponsor colors of white and blue of Thetford and Norcold with it being issued start number 20. No racing season is without its race-to-race challenges but from the results sheet, Dyson’s 2007 season was nothing short of a resounding success. Piloted by Guy Smith and Chris Dyson, chassis number 705 placed at least 6th in class across the 12-race ALMS calendar. An overall podium at Petit Le Mans that autumn was clearly a high point with the beaming faces of Smith and Dyson on the rostrum a jubilant memory for the team and many Dyson Racing fans. The reward for their successful 2007 ALMS season was second place in the LMP2 team class championship, just one spot behind the factory-supported DHL Penske Porsche Racing Team, and a desire to go one better for 2008.
Thoroughly refreshed and receiving updates for the 2008 ALMS racing season, chassis number 705 retained its blue and white livery and the formidable driver pairing of Smith and Dyson. Once again fielding two RS Spyders, 705 would receive a new start number, 16. Like 2007, the 2008 season started smoothly with well-earned class podiums at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the St. Petersburg Grand Prix street race. Two strong fourth places followed on Long Beach’s streets and the mountain west Grand Prix of Utah road course.
After a near two-month break for those teams contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the ALMS circus visited historic Lime Rock Park in the bucolic rolling hills of Salisbury, Connecticut. No doubt the race was highlighted on Dyson Racing’s team calendar that season. Not only was it a home race for the Poughkeepsie-based team, but it was also the celebratory race marking their 25th anniversary. Pulling out all the stops, 705 was painted in the unmistakable, historic livery of white, orange, and yellow – the colors of Dyson’s Porsche 962 from 1985 with the celebration continuing pre-race, on-track display of 705 and that very same 962.
Qualifying in 10th position for the Northeast Grand Prix, Guy Smith was at the wheel running in third position overall when, with an hour and 10 minutes left in the race, 705 was caught up in an incident at the new uphill section with the number 44 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. While the race continued, 9R6-705 was retired, returning to the paddock for an inspection by Dyson’s mechanics and Porsche’s engineers before being loaded and quickly transported to the race shop. By 6:00 pm that Sunday, 705 was completely stripped and the carbon fiber tub was determined to have suffered damage to the extent that it could not compete in the next race, just a week away at Mid-Ohio. According to Dyson’s press release covering the incident, “all the salvageable parts on the #16 car were tagged, bagged, and loaded into flight cases.” A new tub—also numbered 9R6-705—was, “flown in from Porsche in Germany and arrived at the Mid-Ohio paddock at 1:00 pm on Wednesday.” In one of the most famous, gritty, and well-documented motorsport tales, the Dyson team, along with five Porsche engineers who arrived with the new tub, placed it on chassis stands and, in what Dyson himself said would normally take weeks, rebuilt the car over the course of a single day. Along with the new tub, 705 would receive a new nose, front splitter, left-hand side floor, wiring harness, and engine. Porsche was instrumental in expediting the process. The factory-backed team was in a fierce LMP2 constructors championship battle with Acura that season and Porsche could ill-afford a race without two Dyson Porsche entries. Digital photos of the rebuild at Mid-Ohio accompany the car along with PMNA paperwork dated 26 April 2016 acknowledging the replacement tub and Porsche Motorsport’s subsequent destruction of the Lime Rock damaged tub. A fine fifth in class at Mid-Ohio by the rebuilt 705 was the reward for a job well done although a good night’s sleep that evening was likely just as gratifying! The remaining five events were raced without incident, and when the flag flew at the season finale at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, chassis number 705 had done its part to secure 3rd place for Dyson Racing in the LMP2 team championship and, for Porsche, a second consecutive Manufacturer’s Championship.
With the end of the 2008 ALMS season, 9R6-705 returned to Porsche in Germany. During this time it is said to have been under the control of the Porsche Museum, first visiting Weissach to be prepared for long-term exhibition, where it would remain on display until 2012. With the Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1 program quickly shaping up, chassis number 705 was reportedly once again pressed into service, this time as a stand-in to train the mechanics and pit crews designated to the ultra-secretive 919 project. In December 2013, the car was purchased directly from Porsche by its present owner. Transported from Weissach to Virtuoso Performance of Hayward, California, a comprehensive, painstaking restoration began, and to quote Virtuoso, “the car was completely refreshed to the same standard as if it were going to go professional racing.”
Over two years, the car was completely disassembled to return it to its original, as-raced condition. Porsche Motorsport provided a correct, fully rebuilt dyno-tested engine and transmission. Par for the course for a racing support and restoration outfit, Virtuoso Performance inspected and evaluated each component and any showing wear was replaced. The suspension pieces were crack tested with castings receiving X-ray or dye penetrant inspection. New titanium drive axles were fabricated and installed. Wheels hubs and uprights were similarly replaced. Its shock absorbers were rebuilt and dyno tested. All hydraulics including the power steering were completely rebuilt with the pneumatic components receiving service and refreshing as needed. In addition, its onboard computers had internal batteries replaced, power circuits tested, and the latest updates installed. Finally, the livery was restored to its 2008 ALMS season finale appearance at Laguna Seca. Receipts on file confirm in excess of $600,000 spent at Virtuoso during the two-year restoration.
Thoroughly tested and sorted, RS Spyder 9R6-705’s most recent competitive outing was Porsche’s prestigious Rennsport Reunion VI in 2018. As a testament to the high quality of workmanship, the consignor notes that of the seven RS Spyders in attendance, 705 was just one of two running on Sunday afternoon, completing each track session with aplomb. After Rennsport it was inspected at Virtuoso with a full systems check and a return to race readiness. Later, it was decided to place it in long-term storage at the beginning of 2019. Most recently, 9R6-705 was again prepared for the circuit, running test laps at Thunderhill Raceway in July 2023. Images chronicling the restoration process are included, along with encoded transponder records during its time with the Dyson team, gearing records, set-up sheets, aero settings, and additional information relative to the restoration of 705. Expertly restored and well prepared, this RS Spyder comfortably straddles the line between historic racing car while providing those fortunate enough to spend time behind the wheel the modern thrill of a lifetime.
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