50 years ago, Porsche won Le Mans for the first time

The beginning of an enduring love story

3d ago

2.6K

Motorsport is ready to get back to business after a long hiatus and as we look forward to the start of the 2020 F1 season and the (re)start of the 2020 Formula E season, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to celebrate a very special occasion.

Almost exactly 50 years ago (on June 14), Porsche won Le Mans for the first time, something it would then proceed to do again and again for the the next fifty years. The love story between Porsche and endurance racing has produced 19 overall victories and 108 class wins, thus making Porsche the most successful manufacturer in the history of Le Mans.

The journey was long and gradual. Porsche entered and won its first ever endurance classic race in 1951, with a 356 SL but for several years, until the late 1960s, the German brand kept its focus on smaller displacement classes. In 1969, they finished in second place, literally 75 metres away from first place in what remains, to this day, the closest Le Mans finish in history.

Finally, on 14 June 1970, they won. And they did big time, by grabbing first, second and third place with Richard Attwood and Hans Herrmann, at the wheel of a 580-hp Porsche 917K, Gerard Larrousse and Willy Kauhsen in the Martini Porsche 917 LH and Rudi Lins and Helmut Marko in the Porsche 908/02.

That was just the beginning. One year later, 33 out of 49 cars in the race were Porsches. In 1974, Porsche introduced the first turbo racer at Le Mans, the 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo and in 1976, the 936 Spyder recorded the first turbo victory in the history of the race. They kept on winning in the following years, including seven consecutive wins between 1981 and 1987.

In 1998, the Porsche 911 GT1 `98 was the first Le Mans racer built with a carbon fibre monocoque and carbon fibre brakes and in 2014, they introduced the Porsche 919 Hybrid, winning Le Mans in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

What is your favourite Le Mans win of all the time? Let me know in the comments

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Comments (3)

  • #classics #carstories

      3 days ago
  • "Gentlemen, a short view back to the past. Thirty years ago, Niki Lauda told us ‘take a monkey, place him into the cockpit and he is able to drive the car.’ Thirty years later, Sebastian told us ‘I had to start my car like a computer, it’s very complicated.’ And Nico Rosberg said that during the race – I don’t remember what race –  he pressed the wrong button on the wheel. Question for you both: is Formula One driving today too complicated with twenty and more buttons on the wheel, are you too much under effort, under pressure? What are your wishes for the future concerning the technical programme during the race? Less buttons, more? Or less and more communication with your engineers?"

    I just had to do it 😬

      3 days ago
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