Porsche achieved the first overall victory at Le Mans 50 years ago
A total of 19 overall victories, countless class successes and incredible emotions have linked Porsche with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's largest and most traditional motorsport event, for more than six decades. On 14 June 1970, Porsche achieved its first overall victory there with the 580 hp 917 KH sports car. 50 years later, on the weekend of June 13 and 14, 2020, the Porsche Museum will present the original winning car in its exhibition.
Ever since Porsche participated in this endurance classic for the first time in 1951 and took an immediate class victory with the 356 SL, this race has become indispensable for the sports car manufacturer. In 1969 Porsche was only 75 metres or a good second short of victory in the closest Le Mans finish in history. But already in the preparation phase for the 1970 race much of what had been learned in the years before was incorporated: Gerard Larrousse and Willy Kauhsen in the Martini Porsche 917 LH, followed by Rudi Lins and Helmut Marko in the Porsche 908/02 took second and third places respectively, making it a triumph for Porsche.
Porsche recorded the first turbo victory in the history of the race with the 936 Spyder in 1976 with the same car winning again with the works team one year later in 1977. The success with the Porsche 935 K3 marked the first-ever victory of a rear-engine racing car at Le Mans – and a production-series racing car based on the Porsche 911.
It was a race dominated by rain and it felt we had to permanently keep changing the tyres and adapt to the situation at hand. It was not the wear that forced us to change tyres, but the constantly changing weather. The fact we harmonized so well together as a driving team led us to victory. To compete in a 24-hour endurance race with just two drivers is no mean feat, says Hans Herrmann looking back.
“Le Mans is a race where everything goes right, or it doesn’t. In those days, the 24 Hours was more like an endurance drive than a race,” remembers Richard Attwood. “To win Le Mans with Porsche and Hans came fully unexpectedly because our car didn’t have the right set-up for speeds. Hans and I were simply a dream team.”
Jun 03, 2020 at 18:44