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Porsche's Indy Car Fails to Impress : Unser Is Faster Than Only Three Drivers at Laguna Seca

October 10, 1987|SHAV GLICK | Times Staff Writer

As defending champion Bobby Rahal led the parade of Indy cars out of the pits for practice at 11 a.m., the Porsche sat in place as German mechanics hurriedly bolted, screwed and wired pieces together. Unser patiently stood to one side, waiting for Holbert and Norbert Singer, the project manager from Germany, to say the car was ready.

"None of the mechanics, except Singer, speak English, so I never know what they're talking about," Unser said. "But I can tell by the tone of their voice that they're a determined bunch of guys."

Singer directed the highly successful Porsche 956 and 962 racing projects.

"Today was sure better than when I was in Germany," Unser added wryly. "I went over there to test the car and it didn't even have any wheels. There were some other things missing, too, but the missing wheels were pretty darn critical."

Holbert, a five-time International Motor Sports Assn. champion and Porsche's No. 1 man in this country, was surprisingly upbeat at the end of the disappointing day.

"We're very pleased the new Porsche ran throughout the session without a problem," Holbert said. "Obviously, we would like to be quicker, but that will come with time. Tonight we're planning several changes, including the installation of different gear ratios.

"If all goes according to plan, we should be at least two seconds quicker (in the second qualifying session today)."

That would still be only 122 m.p.h., however.

Whatever happens, the Porsche is virtually assured of starting Sunday's race because there are only 24 cars here and the contract calls for as many as 26 starters.

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