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Hinchcliffe Tests Legendary Sports Cars at IMS

James Hinchcliffe signed a new multi-year deal to lead the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar team last Wednesday, and if that wasn’t enough of a career boost, the Toronto native affectionately known as the “Mayor of Hinchtown” started off his week in a new role as a test driver for Road & Track magazine.

The three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner was tasked by R&T to test drive a Porsche 962, one of the most legendary sports cars on the planet, alongside Porsche’s new 918, at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an upcoming issue.

Using the 2.4-mile IMS road course as a proving ground to pit the 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning factory 962 against the 887-horsepower hybrid 918, Hinchcliffe was asked to extract the maximum performance from both cars to compare and contrast the modern technology against one of the last great sports prototypes.

“I’m a big fan of the history of the sport, so getting the call to drive one of the greatest sports cars in history—that just so happens to have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans the same year I was born—was beyond cool,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s one of the cars I’ve seen at museums and always wondered what it was like to drive. To be able to not only drive it, but to get to thrash it … at Indianapolis, no less, and then compare it wheel-to-wheel, with the fastest production car to lap the Nürburgring … it makes for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and a pretty awesome day. You know you’ve arrived when you get invited to test cars like these, and it’s humbling, trust me.”

Once the dark skies passed and the track surface dried, Hinchcliffe was surprised by the performance offered from two flagship Porsches born 28 years apart.

“It’s old racecar versus new road car, but with the advances in road car technology, it got me excited and interested to see how close they’d be,” he admitted. “They both have strengths and weaknesses, but it wasn’t a clear case where one was way ahead or behind the other one. I think readers will enjoy the data and feedback we gathered on how they performed, and I can tell you I wasn’t taking it easy on either of them.

“They both make a lot of power, they deliver that power in very different ways, and where one has all of the modern tricks and technology poured into it, the other reminded you why it was unbeatable during its era. They’re very different creatures, but don’t let the age or where they were designed to perform fool you. We did a lot of filming, too, so I can’t wait for people to see them in action and to read about the test.”

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