Porsche at Le Mans in the 1960s Page Two
The Porsche 906 – also Carrera 6 – in 1966 was the first fruit of the newly-created “race car design” department. The customer vehicles were powered by a modified 911 engine producing around 220 hp (162 kW). For the factory, the 906 features a type 771 eight-cylinder engine with around 260 hp (191 kW). Initially, the chassis and brakes largely corresponded to the 904. Like its predecessor, the weight was somewhere around 650 kilos. Two fuel tanks located left and right of the cockpit replaced the tank in the front of the 904 which resulted in considerably better weight distribution. A long-tail version should have helped achieve higher top speeds, but in fact it created dangerous lift. According to the news reports of that time, Herbert Linge spoke in the pits of experiencing wheel spin on the long straights due to the tail becoming so light. Two small spoilers at the rear solved the problem. Jo Siffert and Colin Davis brought the newcomer over the finish line in fourth and won the category for vehicles up to two litres as well as the consumption classification. Rolf Stommelen and Günther Klass conquered the sports car class with the 906 short tail. The first outing of a 911 concluded with a victory in the two-litre GT classification and 14th overall for Jean Kerguen and “Franc” under the entry of Jacques Dewez.
Porsche brought three models to Le Mans in 1967: with the 906, the 910 as its direct much lighter successor, and the 907 as the latest creation from the racing department. The 907 was a perfected 910 whose long tail caused quite a stir and made drivers break out in a cold sweat – the car was virtually uncontrollable at high speeds on the Mulsanne straight. In time for the race, the aerodynamics were perfectly sorted. Powered by a six-cylinder unit (type 901) and around 220 horses (162 kW), Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann swept to victory in the two-litre class at the wheel of the first Porsche right-hand drive race car. They clinched fifth place in the overall classification and secured the consumption classification as well. Their 907 was the first Porsche that mastered the entire distance averaging over 200 km/h (201.273 km/h). Vic Elford and Ben Pon dominated the sports car class in the Carrera 6.
The Manufacturers’ World Championship of 1968 was run for prototypes featuring three-litre engines and sports cars with up to five-litre engines. Specifically for this championship, Porsche developed the 908 equipped with a three-litre eight-cylinder unit. The air-cooled boxer would deliver up to 370 hp (272 kW). The development was done under immense time pressure. Luckily for Porsche, the organisers moved the race to 28-29 September due to student unrest. In the bid for overall honours, one thing was certain: there was no remedy against the Ford GT40 with their large-capacity engines. Still, Jo Siffert and Hans Herrmann staked their claim in qualifying and planted their 908 on pole for Porsche for the first time. And Porsche took home a bountiful collection of trophies from Le Mans: The factory-run 907 driven by Rico Steinemann and Dieter Spoerry secured second overall and victory in the class up to 2.5 litres. After ten years, Porsche race drivers were back on the podium. Rolf Stommelen and Jochen Neerpasch turned the fastest race lap with the 908 and secured a spot on the podium: Third overall and victory in the class up to three-litre displacement. The actor and race driver Jean-Pierre Gaban eventually won the GT class to 2,000 cc with Roger Vanderschrick in the 911 T. Siffert/Herrmann were forced to retire with gearbox maladies.
[Source: Porsche AG]