Porsche at Le Mans
To say that Porsche has dominated Le Mans might be a bit of an understatement. This grueling 24-hour race puts both man and machine to the test. Since the race’s inception, Porsche touts 19 overall wins and an additional 108 class wins. They also hold the crown for most consecutive wins at an astounding 7 in a row from 1981 to 1987. Fine German craftsmanship and a never-ending desire to win also secured the awards for most 1-2 finishes, most podiums, most podium lockouts, most consecutive podiums, most cars of the same brand in a row, most starts, and most entries by a single constructor. Even though the track is in France, it is owned by the German constructors at Porsche.
The German Legends Created At Le Mans
The 917K carried Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood to the top of the podium on June 14th, 1970. In 1971 it also delivered Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep to the same place of honor. Those back-to-back wins in the most challenging race earned the 917K, the moniker of the racing car of the century from Porsche enthusiasts.
In 1976 Jacky Ickx joined Gijs van Lennep for a ride to the top of the podium in the 936. This car was a combination of features and innovation used on the 917, 911, and the 1974 Carrera RSR Turbo. It would be the one high points in a tumultuous career for the 936 at Le Mans. However, it found redemption in its final appearance with a win in 1981.
The 962 C came to Le Mans in 1985 and took third place from the pole. However, it moved to the top of the podium in 1986 and 1987. The 911 GT1-98 came onto the scene in 1998. It took the checkered flag that year and the second-place finishing spot to let Porsche celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a lockout finish and a 17th win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 919 hybrids carried a turbocharged gasoline engine in the rear and an electric motor-generator in the front. It came up just 30 minutes short of a finish in its debut. But it came back stronger than expected to win 2015, 2016, and 2017 at Le Mans and Driver and Manufacturer titles in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Some Impressive Numbers
The success of Porsche at Le Mans has led to some impressive records. In 1971, the 917 hit a record speed of 246 mph in free training. In 1983, nine of the top ten places in overall rankings were held by the Porsche 956. This had never happened before and has not happened again. The 962 C has the honor of holding the fasted lap time in qualifying at 156.47 mph. And to date, 828 Porsches have graced Le Mans, more than any other brand in the race’s history.