The old adage "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" is as true today as it has ever been. Racing successfully in the ALMS, first with Porsche and then Audi, Champion Motorsport used its wins to leverage their entry into the Porsche tuning aftermarket.
The one stumbling block to selling parts to other Porsche dealers in the United States was the fact that sister company, Champion Porsche, was the number one Porsche dealer here, and was thus seen as a competitor.
"The marketing game plan had to change, so we sat down, thought about it, and came up with the name Werks One name," Champion boss Naveen Maraj explains. "I knew we could not be a TechArt or Gemballa, and so did not set out with the aim of building a complete car as they do. Instead, we identified areas where we felt a 911 could be made more focused for the true enthusiast."
To achieve this, he employed more engineering staff, some coming from the racing department. When the team got to the point where Maraj was comfortable with the way things were progressing, the decision was made to commit to building a proper demo car to which all the finished parts could be fitted. And so the Werks One K1 with F77 engine power kit was officially born.
"We started with a brand -new Turbo and repainted it gray," Maraj says. "In fact it is a classic Porsche 356 shade."
One signature Werks One product is the distinctive carbon airbox with ITG high-flow air filters. Airflow to and through intake systems is a highly specialised science. Some would argue that it is as much art as science, and here Werks One called in a specialist, RennTech's Hartmut Feyhl, to help them design the systems.
"It is also important for us that every component fits perfectly to the original factory mounting points," Maraj notes. "We do not want to make any modifications to the car."
One of the engineers showed me how fast and easy it is to fit an airbox to a Carrera; he had the stock unit out and the carbon replacement fitted in what amounted to two and a half minutes.
"The dealers will not be happy with us for that because it means they can't charge for an hour's labor," Maraj jokes.Werks One's real focus, however, is more on the Turbo, as you can do so much more to boost its performance.
"Because of our motorsport experience, we had some of the most knowledgeable race engineers on call, but we had never done an aero package for a road car before," Maraj recounts. "As we could not get the dimensional info from Porsche, we effectively reverse engineered the car using a CMM digitizing arm, and then used the resulting data as the basis for our calculations on how the aero components would look and perform."
His aerodynamicists knew the direction to go, and this saved a lot of time. Then the designs were fed into a CAD/CAM system, and the rapid prototyping machine created dimensionally perfect mock-ups that could be attached to the real car for testing. That testing took place in a wind tunnel in North Carolina-NASCAR country-and quickly established that the aero parts had a positive effect on downforce.
Durability is always an issue. With a background in long distance racing, the team was well placed to meet this challenge and set out to create new parts that would perform with no compromises. However, Maraj is a perfectionist who is harder to please than even his fussiest customers. So while those who saw and drove the development car were impressed, he felt that they could still do even better.
It was exactly at this time that Louis Milone joined Champion, bringing with him vast experience from stints with some big name race teams. One of the first things the two agreed on was a perception that pervades the U.S. tuning scene.
"There is too much emphasis on excessive horsepower that's simply not needed for real world performance," Milone says. "It is far better to have 550 useable horses than 700 that you have difficulty deploying.