Vic Elford, Rolf Stommelen, Jo Siffert, Hans herrman and Jochen Neerpasch bring the 24H of Daytona trophy to Stuttgart for the 1st time
When it comes to motorsport and victories, most motorsports fans immediately combine Porsche and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in one sentence. Not without a reason ofcourse, as in 2018 Porsche managed to bring the highly wanted trophy from the Circuit de La Sarthe home to Zuffenhausen, where it now proudly resides in the Porsche Museum. However, there is another legendary endurance race where Porsche was even more succesful. Since its appearance at the first Daytona Continental race in 1962, Porsche has become the most successful manufacturer on the road course at Daytona International Speedway. That legacy continues from the first 24 Hours of Daytona in 1966 to present day with a record 22 overall wins. That first overall win for the German marque came in 1968. Between 1977 and 1987 a Porsche team won the race 11 consecutive times. So far in history 77 class victories went to Porsche in the Rolex 24H of Daytona. Now isn’t that a huge success.
Even though Porsche was present from the early beginning, the competition was too strong to compete in the race for an overall victory, but class victories were their part. Not exactly what Ferdinand Piëch had in mind. He was a competition animal, and was only satisfied when a Porsche beated the competition with an overall victory. That’s when the the Porsche 356 and Porsche 911s were replaced in the Porsche factory team with full-blood sportscars like the Porsche 904, Porsche 906 , Porsche 910 and the Porsche 907 that wrote history .
The Porsche 907 in Le Mans
The first entries of the Porsche 907 in a race was in the 1967 24H of Le Mans, but that was not a complete succes. The Porsche 907 (Nr 40) of Gerhard Mitter and Jochen Rindt drove in 11th position when Jochen Rindt missed a gear change and overrevved the engine. End of race but Hans Herrmann and Jo Siffert defended the honours of Porsche and finished the race in 5th position. That was good enough to win the Index of Performance.
The Porsche 907 Langheck in the Daytona 24H
In 1968 a change in the world-championship regulations alowed sportcars with engines up to 5000cc and prototypes with engines up to 3000cc. Ferdinand Piëch and his chief engineer Hans Mezger decided to use the Porsche 907 Longtail in highspeed races like Le Mans and the oval race track of Daytona. The shorter version was used on more curvy roads like the Nürburgring.
For Ferdinand Piïech a victory for Porsche was very important, in whatever race they participated. Safety for the drivers was not that important at the time, the only thing that mattered was being faster than the opponents. This made that the Porsches 907 was indeed very fast, but not the safest car one could drive. Gerhard Mitter proved that statement in the 1968 Daytona 24H when he lost control over his car, and crashed it. One Porsche 907 out of the race, 3 more in it.
Main competitors for the overall victory were the 2 Ford GT40s that started in the front row, with Jacky Ickx/Brian Redman starting ahead of the dou Paul Hawkins/David Hobbs. Just before the half of the race, the 2 Ford GT40s dropped out, and little competition was left for the Porsche. Vic Elford who teamed up with Jochen Neerpasch took over the lead from Jo Siffert / Hans Herrmann after a pitstop repair that costed the Porsche 907 #52 22 minutes. Jochen Neerpasch himself had to leave the race due to illness, and that’s how Rolf Stommelen ended teaming up with Vic Elford.
Because of that delay of 22 minutes, Porsche racing directory Huschke von Hanstein felt that the duo Jo Siffert / Hans Herrmann deserved the victory. Von Hanstein asked Vic Elford if they could drive some laps in the Porsche 907 #54, so they would be part of the victory. No problem for quick Vic, and that’s how the Porsche 907 #54 finished with a 5 driver line-up ( Vic Elford / Jochen Neerpasch / Jo Siffert / Rolf Stommelen / Hans Herrmann). 2nd was the Porsche 907 #52 of Jo Siffert/Hans Herrmann/Gerhard Mitter. To make the succes complete for Porsche, the 3rd place on the podium was for the third Porsche 907 still in the race, with the duo Jo Schlesser / Joe Buzetta at the wheel. The 1968 Daytona 24H turned out to be a huge succes for Porsche.
Pictures courtesy Porsche AG and unknown