Porsche - Racing Giant
Porsche is currently the largest racing car manufacturer in the world and in his history has been successful in many branches of motorsport of which most have been in long distance races. Porsche scored more than 28. 000 victories and won 128 teams and drivers titles in various major competitions, including 16 constructor wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans with famous drivers lke Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Al Holbert and the others.
Stuttgart based manufacturer’s beginning in the races was limited to supplying relatively small engines to racing underdogs, but also tasted some success in the realm of sports car racing, most notably in Carrera Panamericana and Targa Florio, classic races which were later used in the naming of street cars. They especially had success in the USA where they had status of giant killers led by legendary driver Lake Underwood.
With Porsche 917 of 1969, probably the most powerfull car in the world in that time, they became power house winning next year their first of 24 Hours of Le Mans, and with 911 Carrera RS and Porsche 935 Turbo they were dominant in the ’70s. That was proven by winning at Daytona and Sebring. Due the rules, in the ’80s Porsche 911 wasn’t used very much but returned in the next decade as the Porsche 993 GT2 Turbo model.
The Porsche 917 is considered one of the most iconic racing cars of all time and gave Porsche their first 24 Hours of Le Mans win, while open-top versions of it dominated Can-Am racing. Porsche later moved on to dominate IMSA GTP in the ’80s with the Porsche 956/962C, one of the most prolific and successful sports prototype racers ever produced. The water-cooled Porsche 996 series became a success in racing after the GT3 variant was introduced in 1999.
Since winning in 1998 with the Porsche 911 GT1-98, Porsche has not attempted to score overall wins at Le Mans and similar sports car races, focusing on smaller classes and developing the water-cooled 996 GT3. Nevertheless, the GT3 and the LMP2 RS Spyder have won major races overall since. Porsche returned to top-tier Le Mans racing in 2014 with the 919, but both cars experienced unknown engine issues with an hour and a half left to go and retired.
Porsche also has experience in rallies from ’60 until ’80s and made some good results. In 1967 Sobieslaw Zasada drove 912 to capture European Rally Championship Group 1. Porsche also captured three wins in a row at Monte Carlo Rally. In 1968 winners were Vic Elford and Pauli Toivonen, while in the next two years winners were Bjorn Waldegard and Gerard Larrousse. But, in WRC Porsche never won and withdrew from the competition. Remarkable results also were two victories at Paris – Dakar Rally in 1984 and 1986, both with Rene Metge as a driver.
Porsche also tested themselves in Formula 1 and managed to win one race back in 1962 by Dan Gurney, but soon retired from the competition and later returned as the engine supplier. Porsche also experinced competition in the Indy Car Series but without respectable results.
Porsche dropped its factory motorsports program after winning the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Porsche 911 GT1 for financial reasons, but in 2005 made a comeback in LMP2 category.
Porsche regards racing as one of the essential parts of engineering development. Rarely could be seen that factory entered Porsche racing cars will appear in consecutive races with same specificatins.