Erwin Kremer Remembered - by Mark Cole
Further to your appreciation of the late Erwin Kremer and his long and successful Porsche racing career, there were two other sportscar victories which stand out, recalls Mark Cole.

In 1985 the Kremer brothers took their one and only World Sportscar Championship Group C victory in the Monza 1000 Kms, when a mini-tornado dropped a tree across the track at Lesmo One.

Manfred Winklehock and Marc Surer were leading Hans Stuck's Rothmans Porsche and Riccardo Patrese's Lancia when the race was 'truncated'. Their Barclay 962 was about to stop for fuel - which its two pursuers had already taken - but was declared winner when the red flag was shown at the 800km
point.

But there were lows too. Four months later Winkelhock died after crashing in the same car at Mosport Park after a suspected - but never proven - tyre failure. The following year Jo Gartner was killed in Kremer's Kenwood Porsche when it crashed over the Mulsanne Straight barriers.

Erwin said after Gartner's death that he had thought long and hard about continuing in racing, feeling as reponsible for his drivers as he did for his own family.

More highs were to come with the 962-based Spyder K7: Interserie titles in 1992 (with Manuel Reuter) and in 1993 (with Gianni Lavaggi). The evolution of this car, the K8, was raced to 6th place at Le Mans in 1994 by Derek Bell, Jürgen Lässig and Robin Donovan in Gulf colours

The 1995 Daytona 24 Hours win followed in the K8, but soon after long-time team manager Aachim Stroth left to form his own team with Lavaggi, and Erwin and Manfred split.

Erwin's last international victory came with his protege Ralf Kelleners and South African Gary Formato in the Sports Racing World Cup finale at Kyalami in 2000 - ironically in a Lola-Ford, not one of his beloved Porsches.

I last had a long conversation with him at Le Mans two years ago, when he was back running his Group C Porsches in historic events, and happily, had also been reunited with his brother. But he was having heart problems even then, although he kept a cheerful face on things.

He loved the Le Mans 24 Hours, having competed as a driver from 1970 to 1974, and then as an entrant until 1999, competing 30 times in all. One year - 1994 - was with Honda NSXs, and in 1999 it was with the Roush V8-powered Lola. Otherwise, it was always with 'Made in Köln' Porsches, as they proudly proclaimed

The 1979 Le Mans win with Klaus Ludwig and the Whittington brothers was particularly sweet for the Kremers, having re-engineered their Group 5 935 into the sophisticated K3, using aerospace Kevlar and other ultra-light materials at a time Weissach was still using fibreglass and aluminium.

It beat not only the factory Essex 936s but also took 3rd place overall with its BP 935 driven by Ferrier, Servanin and Trisconio, sandwiching the second-placed Hawaiian Tropic Dick Barbour 935 of Paul Newman, Ralf Stommelen and Barbour.

A gentleman in every sense of the word, Erwin will be remembered as a man who was never afraid to take on the Porsche factory, occasionally beating it, as both a driver and team owner.

 

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