Porsche and motorsport have been closely linked since the very beginning. Whether on the road in rallies, on the sand as in the Paris-Dakar, on the track in single-make races or in endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the manufacturer from Zuffenhausen has never shied away from a single challenge, triumphing successfully in each of them.
However, the aim of the German manufacturer has never been to build up at any price a prestigious reputation in competition, which would be envied by its competitors. Porsche's goal has always been to use racing as a means to advance its technologies and make them more reliable, so that they can then be integrated into its road models.
Porsche Rive-Sud, your reference Porsche dealer in the area of the same name between Montreal, Longueuil and St-Hubert, tells you about the main achievements of the Stuttgart manufacturer in racing, and their impact on the brand's models intended for the road!
Porsche in racing: first and foremost a history of racing on tarmac and closed circuits!
Porsche's racing history began with the company's debut as a car manufacturer in 1948, when it designed the first car to officially bear its name: the Porsche 356.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the brand won numerous races in the vehicle categories in which its cars were entered. It was also the overall winner on more than one occasion. The recipe? Vehicles with a power disadvantage, but which compensated for this with flawless reliability, low weight, and a rigorous and efficient handling!
These characteristics enabled Porsche to win the unforgivable Targa Florio, an open-road endurance race held in Sicily, in 1956, 1959, 1960 and 1964 and then uninterruptedly from 1966 to 1970. Porsche was also successful in another race that put crews and engines to the test: the famous Carrera Panamericana.
However, it was really in endurance races on closed tracks that Porsche was most successful. And especially in one of them: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the course of its long involvement in this event, Porsche has achieved a total of 19 victories to date. This is currently the absolute record for a single manufacturer. For Le Mans, Porsche designed some truly iconic cars with unprecedented performance, such as the extraordinary Porsche 917. Other cars were created to test the latest technologies, such as the incredible Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo, which put the turbocharger to the test at Le Mans in 1974.
Others were used as “guinea pigs” for the creation and reliability of brand-new inventions, such as the Porsche 962, which received the first dual-clutch gearbox from Zuffenhausen for racing purposes. The latter was to have a six-speed version, which enabled it to win the 24 Hours two years running (1986 and 1987).
Porsche in rally/rally-raid: many successes, which are however less known.
Porsche is thus mainly synonymous with tracks and endurance events, both on the South Shore of Montreal and elsewhere in the country and in the world. However, to summarize the racing career of the unavoidable German manufacturer only with these words would be very simplistic. In fact, Porsche has distinguished itself in many other disciplines, starting with rally/rally-raid.
Porsche had many victories early on, first in rallying, despite its occasional involvement in the discipline between the 1960s and the late 1970s. After Sobiesław Zasada won the European Rally Championship title with a Porsche 912 in Group 1 in 1967, Porsche won three double victories in a row at the famous Monte Carlo Rally in 1968, 1969 and 1970. However, Porsche would not capitalise on this experience until the 1980s, when the FIA's changes to Group B rally rules prompted Porsche to develop its iconic Porsche 959.
Sleeker and wider than the 911 from which it was derived at the time, it was the best Porsche could do at the time. With its 2,849 cc twin-turbocharged flat-six engine with air-cooled cylinders and liquid-cooled cylinder heads (444 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque), four-wheel drive with four-mode splitter, speed-dependent automatic suspension and ultra-slim aerodynamics (Cx: 0.31): the Porsche 959 was unrivalled when it came out, with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.7 seconds, and a 0-200 km/h time of 13.3 seconds (Porsche figures for the "comfort" version, i.e. the most equipped road-approved model). As for the top speed, it’s as breathtaking as ever (317 km/h!).
The latter was entered by Porsche in the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally-raid, where it dominated in no uncertain terms, finishing first with René Metge and second with Jacky Ickx, proving in passing that Porsche can win even on the most difficult terrain!
F1: a very discreet presence, but also with a resounding success.
Many people believe that Porsche has never been involved in one of the most important disciplines in motorsport: Formula 1. This would be forgetting that the manufacturer proposed a single-seater dedicated to it as early as 1962: the Porsche 804, which housed a flat-eight engine. This car gave Porsche a victory in Formula 1 as a manufacturer at the 1962 French Grand Prix, in the hands of Dan Gurney.
However, the Zuffenhausen-based manufacturer's breakthrough in F1 came in the 1980s when it became an engine manufacturer for McLaren. The manufacturer used its expertise in turbocharging to supply a 90-degree turbocharged V6, which enabled the team to win two constructor's titles in 1984 and 1985 and three driver's titles in 1984, 1985 and 1986.
All in all, between 1984 and 1987, the TAG-Porsche V6 turbocharged cars allowed McLaren to win 25 races. Not bad for a very discreet presence in the discipline, no?
Competition is a laboratory for testing new technologies and then transposing them to the road.
“It's all very well for Porsche to be involved in racing, but is there a link between this and the production vehicles?”, you will ask us. At Porsche Rive-Sud, our answer is yes!
Indeed, there are many examples of the transposition of technologies from the manufacturer's racing programs to its road models! One of the oldest examples is without a doubt the turbocharging technology: once mastered between the turbocharged Porsche 917s that raced in CanAm as early as 1972, and the 911 Carrera RSR 2.1 Turbo that was runner-up at Le Mans in 1974, Porsche hastened to introduce a turbocharged version of its 911 for the road in 1975: the famous 911 Turbo 3.0 Type 930 with its 260 hp.
Another example is the dual-clutch transmission technology of the PDK gearboxes, which are ultra-fast in their shifts. This innovation was originally developed for Porsche's 962 racing car and introduced in the 2009 model year in the Porsche 911. We could also mention the Porsche four-wheel drive system, which was tested on the 959 in rally-raid and then quickly adopted by the 911 Type 964, before also finding a home in the brand's SUVs, the Macan and Cayenne!
So, just by this brief history and without mentioning the very prolific Porsche Carrera Cup where only Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars are racing, it is mainly through competition that Porsche innovates for its road models. This is particularly apparent with each new iteration of the Porsche 911 GT3, where every innovation comes from motorsport. This allows the Stuttgart-based manufacturer to remain at the forefront of technology, offering unparalleled performance in all conditions. Come by Porsche Rive-Sud as soon as today to see for yourself the Porsche racing heritage in each of our models!
July 10, 2021