Motorsport: A Porsche 911 history
The Porsche 911’s racing heritage is almost a given however, upon the car’s release to the public in 1964, its pedigree on the track took some time to develop, with only a handful of cars racing in the hands of customers during the 1965 season (although the factory did compete in the Monte Carlo Rally that year).
By the end of 1966, a Porsche 911 had finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, but this was still an independent effort driven by the French duo of Jacques Dewe and Jean Kerguen.
Porsche’s full realisation of the 911’s potential would not come until 1967 when ‘Quick’ Vic Elford – Porsche’s British factory driver – took victory in the very first rallycross race, driving the ‘GVB 911D’, a car taken straight out of AFN’s showroom.
1967 would bring further off-road success for Elford and the 911, with talented all-rounder securing the European Rally Championship for Zuffenhausen in a 911S, a feat Pauli Toivonen would achieve a year later in a works Porsche 911T.
The Porsche 911 was proving itself an adept weapon on the world’s rally stages, with the late Björn Waldegård using a 911S to secure back-to-back victories on the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally in 1969 and 1970.
However, as Porsche entered the new decade, it turned its sights to the track. During the late Sixties, Porsche had developed the 911R but didn’t produce enough of these lightweight specials to get it homologated.
The 911R was followed by the 911T/R (essentially a kit of bits from the factory) but it was the 911 ST that started to prove the rear-engined car’s worth on track, taking victories at famed locations such as Daytona in the hands of the Brumos squad.
With the release of the Porsche 911 Carrera RS in 1973, Weissach was able to homologate its first 911 RSR. A 2.8-litre missile, the ducktailed racer garnered more class victories before being replaced by the even more potent 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 in 1974.
By now, Weissach (still in its infancy) was experimenting with turbocharging, first developing the 911 Turbo Carrera RSR 2.1 prototype that would finish second overall at Le Mans in 1974, before turning its attentions to the Porsche 934 and 935 projects in 1976.
The former, built to Group 4 regulations, would land the European GT Championship in the hands of Toine Hezemans while the flame-spitting later would enter into the history books, as various incarnations dominated sports car racing during the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Porsche’s track success tailed off in the Eighties – although the Rothmans Porsche Rally Team – nearly secured European success with the SC RS before the 959 scored a famous win on the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally (a feat achieved by René Metge and Dominic Lemoyne in 1984 too, that time using the 953).
In 1990, the Porsche Carrera Cup started to use the then-new 964, giving birth to one of the most successful one-make championships in the world, while the 993 RSRs began to reassert Weissach’s authority on the track.
Arguably the 911’s crowning glory came during the GT1 era, when bespoke mid-engined racer took on the world, eventually coming away with overall victory in the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans in GT1-98 guise.
While the water-cooled era wasn’t well received by many 911 enthusiasts, the successive generations of GT3-Rs and GT3 RSRs have won myriad national and international championships, cementing the 911s place atop the sports car racing world.
Last year, the new 911 RSR took GTE-Pro class victory at Le Mans, with a further victory for the outgoing 997 GT3 RSR in the GTE-Am class providing Porsche with the 911’s 100th class victory at the famous French endurance race. This success continued in 2014, with victories and Daytona and Sebring setting the scene for yet more 911 success.