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Porsche, the king of the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Sports motorsport is part of Porsche's history, which in turn is closely linked to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1951, shortly after the company was founded, a sports car from Zuffenhausen was already on the Le Mans starting line for the first time.

From then until today, Porsche has had a love affair with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What better showcase than this legendary race to put Porsche's speed, robustness, technology and reliability to the test. And what better competition to develop solutions and technologies that, once tested and validated, are transferred to the series models. Developments such as the double ignition, the disc brakes, the double clutch transmission or the powerful hybrid powertrain have been tested on the circuits before reaching street models. For this reason, the heart of a racing car beats in every Porsche.

Today, Porsche is the brand with the most participations and victories at Le Mans. Throughout a legendary trajectory full of successes, stories and emotions, incredible numbers have been achieved, only within the reach of myths.

The most well-known, but also the most important, data of Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the record of 18 overall victories. This number alone demonstrates the supremacy of endurance racing for almost 50 years and makes Porsche the most successful brand in this test. These victories were achieved in different eras, with different technologies and with very different regulations that have given rise to a wide variety of models: from the mythical Group 5 of the 70s to the current LMP1 hybrids.

Porsche is also the brand with the most consecutive victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, thanks to the overwhelming hegemony of the Porsche 956 and 962C in the '80s. From 1981 to 1987, inclusive, a Porsche crossed the finish line at Le Mans in first position, scoring seven victories in a row, a streak that has not been equaled to date.

Twelve of Porsche's 18 victories were also a double that took them to the top two places on the podium. Porsche is the manufacturer with the most doubles in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it is also the one with the most hat tricks, since in eight of these victories Porsche took three places on the podium.

Neel Jani, aboard the Porsche 919 Hybrid, achieved the fastest lap in history in the 2015 qualifying session on the current track, setting a time of 3m16s887. The fastest lap record on the pre-1989 track, with no chicanes on the Hunaudières straight, is also held by a Porsche: a 917 LH driven by Jackie Olivier, with a time of 3m13s90.

The German Hans-Joachim Stuck has still held the average speed record at the 1985 Hours of Le Mans circuit since 24, with an impressive record of 251,815 km / h, aboard the Porsche 962C.

Being the fastest in qualifying is not synonymous with victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans: only in 6 of the last 20 editions has the car that started in first place won. Nevertheless, Porsche has demonstrated the performance of its cars with 18 pole positions in its record.

Another record held by Porsche with an iron fist is that of the fastest lap in the race. In up to 14 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a Porsche has achieved the fastest lap.

Ever since the brand introduced two Porsche 1951 SLs in 356, there has always been a Porsche on the Le Mans 24 Hours grid. It is for this reason the brand with the most participations, 66 in a row ... and it continues to add.

From 1951 to 2016, 788 Porsche have participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is the brand whose cars have added the most shares, surpassing the second by more than double.

The proliferation of private teams that used the Porsche 911 S to participate in the GT category of more than 2 liters reached its climax in 1971. 18 Porsche 911s took the start, which together with the brand's prototypes totaled 33 cars out of the 49 that participated in total in the race. It is the highest number of participants with models of the same brand in the history of Le Mans.

After winning twice in the 917-cylinder boxer 12K, the regulation change and the advent of turbochargers led Porsche to evolve the turbocharged, air-cooled 6-cylinder boxer engine, which it had already used in the 934 and 935. The Porsche Type 935 engine would become the most successful engine in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He got three absolute victories with the Porsche 936, one with the Porsche 935 K3 and four more with the Porsche 956. In 9 years, this engine went from 2.1 to 3.0 liters of displacement; from one to two turbos; and from 540 to more than 630 horsepower.

397 LAPS
In 1971, Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep hit a hell of a pace in their Porsche 917K, taking them to 397 laps of the La Sarthe track during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His record of 5.335 kilometers traveled in this race took 39 years to be beaten, but without exceeding the number of laps. To date, no car has managed to make more turns.




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

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