Le Mans 1996: Porsche 911 GT1 Debut

by John Glynn on April 7, 2011

Just surfing Youtube for some rally videos and tripped over some nice footage of the GT1 at Le Mans in 1996. Forums are starting to buzz about this year’s Le Mans trips, so I thought we could add to the excitement.

Le Mans ’96 was the debut race for the beautiful 911 GT1 (seen above at the Porsche Museum in both road and race uniforms) and it was expected to do well.

At the start, the GT1 of Dalmas took the lead for an hour’s racing, before being passed by the Joest prototypes. In the second GT1, Stuck and co watched, and waited. After 24 dramatic hours, the GT1s finished second and third. The Joest was first to the flag, followed by the experienced Stuck/Boutsen/Wollek combination. Had both Gt1s not been in the gravel and required repairs as a result, they could have stitched it up.

Irony of ironies, the Joest was a car Porsche had changed their minds on. Built by Tom Walkinshaw, it ran Porsche power (a 3.0 version of the 935 engine) but not the manufacturer’s name.

The Joest beat the second place GT1 by a single lap. In 1997, it repeated the feat, and Porsche decided to bring the project back in house. Thanks to a raft of quick cars from the competition, it never won again. In 1998, the GT1 finally won Le Mans, and Porsche retired their bespoke racing efforts for almost seven years.

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