Sport: Power to the Porsches

In the hierarchy of international sports-car racing, makes of machines tend to reign like Old World dynasties. In the 1950s, England's noble Jaguars ruled the raceways. Through the 1960s, the dashing, blood-red Ferraris from Italy were the Medicis of the macadam. Now, after two decades of plotting an overthrow, the house of Porsche is coming to power.

Horsepower, that is. Always a top competitor in its class, Porsche in past years was known as the Volkswagen of sports cars—a small, sturdy "superbug" that made up in precision performance what it lacked in muscle. In the past two years, however, Porsche debuted two...

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