How the 917 Won Porsche’s First Ever Le Mans

In 1970, Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood drove the 917 KH (limited-tail) with start out selection 23 and in the environment-well-known red-white Salzburg design and style to the initial of (so far) 19 all round wins for Porsche at the circuit. The 917 was Porsche’s initial time in the league of immensely highly effective, substantial-potential racing cars. Its 580bhp 4.5-litre 12-cylinder motor established new criteria, and is continue to legendary these days.

Adjustments in the regulations meant that prototypes have been permitted a highest motor dimensions of 3. litres, and for sports activities cars 5. litres had been permitted – but a series of at minimum 25 experienced to be crafted. The 1969 race season allowed the 917 to become entirely race established, with the result that the vehicle entered 1970 with its trustworthiness certain and enhanced aerodynamics to rectify its formerly wayward behaviour at significant pace.

For the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hrs the manufacturing facility did not enter the automobiles instantly, but through its companions, John Wyer Automotive and Porsche Salzburg. In a rain-soaked race, amid fierce competitors from Ferrari, the 917s fought a shut-won victory. Here’s the photo I took of it at the Concours of Class 2020.

This automobile, a Salzburg entry in the team’s pink and white livery begun with a downside – driver Richard Attwood experienced opted for the lesser of the two engines offered by 1970, the 4.5-litre instead of the 5.-litre, and experienced decided on the 917 KH ‘short-tail’ edition rather than the more rapidly 917 1H long-tail. This was simply because the extended-tail he’d pushed at Le Mans in 1969 experienced been very unstable – but by 1970 the extensive-tail style and design had been designed considerably more secure.

So, at first, Attwood and co-driver Hans Herrmann lagged behind the rest of the 917s and the Ferrari 512s. Having said that, as rain started off to slide in the evening, turning into torrential by means of the night, the car’s milder specification and the two drivers’ knowledge shone as a result of – and to their fantastic surprise they observed by themselves in the direct.

The significant rain induced misfiring via the evening, thanks to water leaking onto the ignition parts, but the automobile kept heading. Soon after 24 hrs it was continue to in the lead, despite the drivers being exhausted – notably as Artwood afterwards identified that he experienced been suffering from the mumps.

Porsche 917 rear watch at Concours of Elegance 2020

This was Porsche’s very first-at any time general earn at Le Mans, and an additional 917 completed 2nd. Given that then, Porsche has attained a report complete of 19 in general La Sarthe victories to date – but the initial, in motor vehicle 23, was certainly the biggest of all.


4.5-litre, flat-12, double overhead camshaft, 580bhp, fuel injection


Rear motor, 4-velocity handbook transmission, rear-wheel generate, tubular spaceframe, glassfibre bodywork, unequal upper and lessen arms, coil springs, discs

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