His search for The Unfair Advantage — in this case, more power than generally thought reliable — inevitably involves missteps along the way. Didn’t Mark Donohue, the racer associated with the phrase, leave the field far behind in the 917/10’s first race at Mosport, only to slow with a turbo pressure relief valve sticking? Bill was there as a fan. And didn’t the 917/10 go on to dominate Can-Am racing?
In similar fashion, Bill accelerated into the new century after enduring his personal Y2k crisis. A new 3.4-liter engine Lecourt assembled in 2007, beginning with a fresh case and crank to distance it from the California caper, proved strong and reliable. A chance meeting with Marco Preiano of SEM Motorsports (see sidebar) led to further development and the Texas Mile.
A FEW DAYS AFTER BILL’S RETURN from the Texas Mile, we spent much of a day driving. Have you ever noticed how drivers in pictures of Porsches at speed invariably appear tight-lipped, jaw-clenched? At the wheel, Bill projects unbridled pleasure. He always seems on the edge of a grin.
We head east from Toronto with no particular place to go. In his 935 seat, he seems like a jazz drummer (he drummed as a hobby and is a huge fan of Art Blakey), at ease behind his kit whether laying down the beat for a ballad or wailing, as he puts it. That is, whether we’re soaring along the fast lane or dissecting cluttered lanes.
At 100 mph, the tach indicates 3000 rpm. “I have a 935 top gear Jerry Woods recommended,” he explains. “I told Jerry I wanted to cruise at 3000 rpm at 100 mph, and the taller gear he suggested is just perfect.”
Later, on winding roads to Mosport, he makes judicious use of the transmission he describes as “wonderful” for the full rush of 17.5 psi of turbo boost and a sequence of sounds awfully close to the outer limits of jazz most folks can’t tolerate for any length of time. “Hear that popoff?” he asks and, yes, of course you do. Frequently, too, whenever he lifts off the gas for a downshift. “I have a friend who says it sounds like subway doors closing; I get such a kick out of that.”
The ride is firm-plus. “How do you like those bang-bangs?” asks Bill after a scattering of potholes. “I’m going to be doing something to the front end. I’ve got 400-pound springs. I’m going to replace them with 300-pounders.”
An array of gauges relays essential information. Monitoring the fuel-pressure rates highly with Bill since running lean once resulted in expensive repairs. Temperatures of the turbocharged air entering and exiting the intercooler are another fascination: A downshift to third gear and hard acceleration used to raise the pre-intercooler temperature from 173° to 186°, but only from 100° to 101° after cooling.
After three-and-a-half decades of development, the 930 is to his taste in every detail. Few notice until he points it out, but he had the top section of a “tea tray” spoiler from A.I.R. grafted into his original Turbo tail to accommodate his first intercooler, back in 1995. Why? Because he loves the silhouette of the original 930 and felt the full tea tray would ruin the lines. The rear aero lip above the rear window came from Performance Products. The five-lug wheels, which recall the look of the centerlock 917 wheels Porsche used on 934s, are from John James Racing/Penta Motorsports.
Bill is exacting. He sources his brake discs from Coleman Racing Products in Menominee, Minnesota, citing their durability and price. A Bully Performance clutch, made in Ottawa, was Marco Preiano’s recommendation in combination with a Patrick Racing pressure plate, and Bill applauds the result. “Some competition clutches can wear out your leg, but this one is better than fine — it’s perfect. Never since day one have I had a clutch like this.”