Twenty years ago in 1998, the 911 clinched Porsche's 16th win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To celebrate the anniversary, this two-part series will cover 16 stats and facts about this most famous of Porsches.
First presented at the 1963 International Motor Show Germany in Frankfurt, the Porsche 911 succeeded the 356 and marked a new element of the design initiated by Ferdinand Porsche with...the Volkswagen Beetle: an air-cooled rear overhang engine. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car was driven by gentlemen-drivers, crown princes, previous winners and women drivers.
A couple takes the wheel of the Porsche 911 - In 1994, for the first of their four shared participations, Swiss couple Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari, major players in GT classes during the 1990s and 2000s, achieved its best result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a ninth place finish shared with Italian driver Renato Mastropietro. In 2004, Lilian Bryner became the first woman to win the 24 Hours of Spa, at the wheel of a Ferrari.
A 911 designed to win - 1996 marked the first appearance of the Porsche 911 GT1, developed after the McLaren F1 GTR reached the top step on the podium the year before. The two cars fielded by the factory finished second (Thierry Boutsen-Hans Joachim Stuck-Bob Wollek) and third (Yannick Dalmas-Scott Goodyear-Karl Wendlinger).
A victory to celebrate an anniversary - Noblesse oblige, the legendary Porsche model won the 24 Hours in commemoration of the marque's 50th anniversary in 1998. It was the 16th of 19 overall victories at Le Mans, with a one-two for the official 911 GT1s driven by Laurent Aiello-Allan McNish-Stéphane Ortelli (winners) and Uwe Alzen-Jörg Müller-Bob Wollek (second).
A rookie at Le Mans for the 911 - In 1999, at 20 years old, Sébastien Bourdais competed in his very first 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of a Porsche 911 shared with Jean-Pierre Jarier and Pierre de Thoisy (retirement).
A skier on the track - In 2001, three-time Downhill Ski World Champion Luc Alphand chose the 911 for his debut as a driver and team owner at the 24 Hours. In eight participations, he took the wheel four times at Le Mans with as best result 16th place in 2004 with a Porsche 911.
A doubly victorious anniversary - In 2013, the Porsche 911 celebrated its 50th anniversary with two class wins, in LMGTE Pro with Romain Dumas-Marc Lieb-Richard Lietz and in LMGTE Am with Raymond Narac-Jean Karl Vernay-Christophe Bourret. The latter driver line-up gave Porsche its 100th win at the 24 Hours, all classes considered, since the German manufacturer's first appearance at Le Mans in 1951.
The "resurrection" of Patrick Dempsey - In 2015, one month after the death of his character Dr. Shepherd in the television series "Grey's Anatomy," actor-driver Patrick Dempsey claimed the second step on the LMGTE Am class podium at the wheel of a 911 shared with Patrick Long and Marco Seefried.
Gianmaria Bruni goes from Ferrari to Porsche - For the first time in nine participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Gianmaria Bruni will not be driving a Ferrari this year. A three-time class winner (2008, 2012 and 2014) and two-time FIA World Endurance GT Drivers Cup winner (2013 and 2014), the Italien is currently a factory Porsche driver in LMGTE Pro. He just marked his return to the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) with a second place finish at the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, opening round of the 2018-2019 Super Season.
Click below for the first installment in this series:
PHOTO (Copyright - ACO Archives): In 1998 Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish, Stéphane Ortelli and the 911 GT1 celebrated Porsche's 50th anniversary with an emotional win at Le Mans, two and a half months after the death of Ferry Porsche, the son of founder Ferdinand.