Claudio Roddaro - 1968 Porsche 908 LH - Porsche Classic Le Mans Race

Races twice around the clock at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The Le Mans Classic by Peter Auto is an event that has stolen the hearts of most classic car fans. Whenever a true classic sportscar lover has the chance, he will attend the Le Mans Classic weekend at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe in France. And there are many reasons for this, every edition again.With over 135.000 visitors, and thousands cars in the club stands, there is no way around. Le Mans Classic 2018 was a record breaking edition  In 2018,  the organisation Peter Auto and ACO ( Automobile Club de l’Ouest) could not let the 70th anniversary of the Porsche 356 go unnoticed. And they did in a splendid way with several Porsche dedicated track activities and a static competition Porsche exhibition.

Celebrating Porsche 70th anniversary at Le Mans Classic

With the help of Porsche France and the Porsche Museum, a parade of Porsche cars made a celebrational tour along the race track. The leading car was the  the car that started the complete history of sportscars of Porsche . Porsche number 1 was driven by Felix Porsche’s cousin Felix Lange. 5 time Le Mans winner Dereck Bell drove a 1971 911 Carrera RSR from the Stuttgart museum. French icon Henri Pescarolo was at the wheel of the Porsche 908/03. The other French race legend Romain Dumas drove a Porsche 906 Carrera 6. 

Porsche Classic Race Le Mans

More Porsches on the track in the race series created for the Le Mans Classic event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the sportscar : The Porsche Classic Race Le Mans. Porsche France, in collaboration with Peter Auto, assembled an exceptional field of over 70 historic Porsches to battle on the mythical Le Mans circuit. A race track with a strong connection to Porsche. The German manufacturer holds the historic record of 19 outright victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The complete history of Porsche sportscars was present. Starting with  early Porsche 356 over different versions of the Porsche 911 and rare birds like the Porsche 550 Durlite Spyder. Well represented was the Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.0 with several cars participating in the race. German Bruschnick in the Porsche 910 (910-005) was declared the winner, even though it was Ewen Stievenart who finished first in a rare Porsche 908 LH. The French rally legend Gérard Larousse drove a 1970 Porsche 911 ST.

Le Mans Classic 2018 - Porsche 908/03-005
Le Mans Classic 2018 – Porsche 908/03-005

Exhibition of Competition Porsches

A more static way to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Porsche sportscars, was the display of competition Porsches in the village. Porsches that were eligible for Le Mans and many other road and endurance races were put on display one next to another. Porsche models that are usually kept in garages as hidden treasures were now shown to the public, many of them multi-million Euro cars. The display started with a dazzling Porsche 550 Spyder, accompanied by a Porsche 718 RS60 Spyder, over the very same Porsche 356 Carrera Abarth ( 1002) that lands us in the early 1960’s. A Porsche 904 and Porsche 906 ,Porsche 907, Porsche 908 and Porsche 908/03 and a Gulf livery Porsche 917K.  As if that’s not enough eye-candy, there was the iconic 1974 Porsche 911 RSR Turbo 2.1, a car that even could be seen on the track at the Le Mans Classic 2016. The Porsche 956 (956-117) in the exhibiton was the very Porsche that took victory in both 1984 (Klaus Ludwig / Henri Pescarolo)  and 1985 (Klaus Ludwig / Paolo Barilla / John Winter) for Joest Racing.

The main grids of the Le Mans Classic

5 of  the 6 grids that represented the history of the Le Mans Classic 24H, had at least some Porsche racing. Ofcourse no Porsche in grid 1, that had cars from 1929 to 1939. Porsche fans had to wait to grid 2 ( 1949 – 1956) to see some Porsches at work. Among these Porsches was the Porsche 550 Spyder (550-046) the eye-catcher. This particular car was 1st in class in the 1955 Le Mans 24H with Richard von Frankenberg and Helmut Polensky at the wheel.  In grid 3, covering 1957 to 1961, the Stephens brothers entered a 1959 Porsche 356A GT Speedster. More 4-cams in the same grid with the Porsche 550A Spyder (550-0146) of Manfred Freisinger and the Porsche 718 RS60 (718-067) of Peter Vögele. Grid 4 (1962 – 1965 ). Obviusly the first Porsche 911s came in action at Le Mans Classic in grid 4 (11962 – 1965). Next to the Porsche 911s, some Porsche 904’s and Porsche 906 on the grid. Combine these cars with Ford GT40’s and AC Cobra’s, and you know spectacle is assured. Grid 5 covered the years 1966 – 1971, a moment the theart of many Porsche enthusiasts started beating faster.

Peter Vögele - 1969 Porsche 917 ( 917-025) - Grid 5 - Le Mans Classic 2018
Peter Vögele – 1969 Porsche 917 ( 917-025) – Grid 5 – Le Mans Classic 2018

Competition Porsches on the track

The race icon of Porsche of the early 70s , the Porsche 917 is a car that had some different versions. And all of them are worth lots and lots of money. So there aren’t that many opportunities to see cars like these on the track where a similar car won the Le Mans 24H in 1970 with Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood at the wheel.  In grid 5 Peter Vögele drove his Porsche 917 (917-025), a highly original car that once belonged to the Miles Collier Collection in Naples, Florida.  After some static appearances like the Porsche Classic Days in Aachen Willi Kauhsen brought his Porsche 917 (917-005) for the first time to the track. Unfortunately, during night training, the car crashed. Reasons for the crash remain unconfirmed. We heard about an engine failure causing the crash. Other sources told us the car was hit by another competitor. The Porsche 917 (917-LT5) that was built in the garage of David Piper and now owned by Dirk Sadlowski remained in the paddocks.

Romain Dumas -1977 Porsche 935 - Grid 6 - Le Mans Classic 2018
Romain Dumas -1977 Porsche 935 – Grid 6 – Le Mans Classic 2018

More brutal Porsche power on that same grid 5 with several Porsche 906 and Porsche 910s. That’s  in sheer contrast to a more civilised Porsche 914/6 GT. Robert Fink entered his Porsche 908/02 (908/02-018).  Grid 6 brought back the period 1975 – 1981, a period  Porsche developed the Porsche 934 and Porsche 935. The Kremer brothers reinvented the Porsche 935 to the ultimate racer of the period and still a joy to see on the track : the Porsche 935 K3. Several of these Porsche 935’s were active in grid 6.  In 1977, Jürgen Barth won the Le Mans 24H , sharing the wheel of a Porsche 936 with Hurley Haywood and Jacky Ickx. Now in his early seventies, Jürgen Barth took the wheel of a 1981 Porsche 924 GTR. 

Group C racing and Global Endurance Legends.

Periods not covered in the 6 main grids of the Le Mans Classic, were not forgotten. The legendary Group C series, run from 1982 – 1992 had some fabulous cars. Porsche dominated the era with the Porsche 956 and it’s successor the Porsche 962. Among  the over 40 Group C cars, several of these Porsches, many of them known from other Peter Auto Events like the Spa Classic. The Group C cars had 3 opportunities to come on the grid. The race on it’s own was interrupted with several yellow and red flags. In the end, the best Porsche  finished in 9th position. The honours went to Marco Werner in the Porsche 962 (962-CK6-08/3 ). In the Global Endurace Legends GT’s and Prototypes from the 1990s to 2000s made some demonstration laps. Not very exciting when it comes to race action. But on the other hand : you won’t see these cars on the grid often. At the wheel of these fabulous endurance racers are well-known drivers like Christian Pescatori, Norman Nato, Sam Hancock and Emmanuel Collard.

Picture gallery of Le Mans Classic 2018