Porsche's victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (I)


On the eve of the 2017 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we review each of Porsche's 18 victories in the mythical endurance test.

1970
Winning car
: Porsche 917 K (Short Tail)
Pilots: Hans Herrmann (Germany) and Richard Attwood (England)
Laps around the circuit: 343
Distance traveled: 4.607,811 km
Average speed: 191,992 km / h

In 1970 Porsche achieved its first overall victory at Le Mans and, incidentally, took the top three places on the podium for the first time. It was one of the most demanding editions in all of history due to the heavy rains and storms that accompanied much of the competition. Of the 51 cars entered, only seven managed to get official time at the end in the so-called “Fight of the Titans” (five of them were Porsche).

The winning car, driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood, was powered by a 12-liter 180-cylinder (4.5 ° V) engine, delivering around 580 horsepower (427 kW).

In second place he crossed the 917 L Long Tail driven by the Frenchman Gérard Larrousse and the German Willi Kauhsen. Thanks to bodywork painted in psychedelic colors from the XNUMXs, this vehicle went down in history as the Auto Hippie.

The third place went to the Austrians Rudi Lins and Helmut Marko in a 908/02. Additionally, the two efficiency awards available that year went to the Porsche 908/02 (Thermal Efficiency Index) and the Porsche 917 L (Performance Index).

The ratio of lap times and fuel consumption was better than the other cars that finished this marathon sprint. The victory of the first 12-cylinder Porsche at Le Mans was particularly convincing. The best ranked Ferrari, in fourth position, came within 30 laps of the winner; that is, the equivalent of 404 kilometers.

As if that weren't enough, the Zuffenhausen cars also took the top places in the two GT categories. The Porsche 914/6 GT won in 2.0 cc (sixth place overall) and the Porsche 911 S in 2.5 cc (seventh).

Around the race, scenes from the movie Le Mans were filmed, which would be released in cinemas a year later (on June 23, 1971). Starring Steve McQueen, it is still considered the most legendary car movie in history to this day.

1971
Winning car
: Porsche 917K
Pilots: Helmut Marko (Austria) and Gijs van Lennep (Holland)
Laps around the circuit: 397
Distance traveled: 5.335,313 km
Average speed: 222,304 km / h

In 1971, Porsche achieved its second overall victory in the 917 K (this time with a magnesium chassis) driven by Helmut Marko and the Dutchman Gijs van Lennep, who completed 397 laps around the La Sarthe circuit to set a new distance record of 5.335,16. , 39 kilometers (it was in force for XNUMX years). The winning car also took the 'Performance Index' award for its most efficient use of fuel.

Additionally, in official practices the Englishman Jackie Oliver, aboard a 917 L, made the fastest lap of the French circuit with an average of 250,475 km / h (the records even say that he reached 386 km / h at the end of the race). straight Mulsanne).

It would take almost 15 years for another car to lower this time, and of course, it was another Porsche. For its part, the 911 would win the GT category again, thus remaining undefeated since its Le Mans debut in 1966 (10 wins in a row, six in the 2.0 cc and four in the 3.0 cc).

1976
Winning car
: Porsche 936
Pilots: Jack Ickx (Belgium) and Gijs van Lennep (Holland)
Laps around the circuit: 349
Distance traveled: 4.769,923 km
Average speed: 198,746 km / h

In 1976 two legends come together: the Porsche 936 and Belgian Jack Ickx, who that year achieved his first of four overall victories with Porsche at Le Mans. The 936 was powered by the turbocharged 2.1-liter boxer engine, the same one that had shown its potential in 1974 (the first time a turbocharged car raced at Le Mans), but in this version it delivered 550 horsepower (405 kW).

With their triumph, the Belgian and Dutch achieved two firsts for the Stuttgart team: they had never before won a boxer-powered car at Le Mans and never before a turbocharged one. The 936 was, according to the technical regulations for Group 6 of the World Sports Car Championship, a mid-engined racing thoroughbred with tubular bodywork weighing only 765 kilograms.

1977
Winning car
: Porsche 936/77
Pilots: Jürgen Barth (Germany), Hurley Haywood (USA) and Jack Ickx (Belgium)
Laps around the circuit: 342
Distance traveled: 4.671,83 km
Average speed: 194,651 km / h

The 936/77 Spyder with aluminum chassis, plastic bodywork and flat six-cylinder engine supercharged by two turbos was the car with the Porsche defended its title in what is remembered as one of the most dramatic races in history and the favorite by Jack Ickx.

After an early retirement from the 936 he shared with Henri Pescarolo, Belgian Ickx was transferred by his team to Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood's 936, which was in 42nd position. On the night Ickx made a fantastic comeback that led him to lead the race. at dawn.

However, a damaged piston drove him into the pits with only one hour to go into the race. The mechanics solved the problem in 42 minutes and disconnected the bad piston.

Barth returned for two laps in the five-cylinder 936 to secure Porsche's fourth overall victory. To top it off, a Porsche 935 won the Group 5 class, while a Porsche 934 took the GT title.

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Automundo

Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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