24h Le Mans
19/04/2011 - 09:00

18 April 1971 : double record for the Porsche 917

18 April 1971 : double record for the Porsche 917


18 April 1971 : double record for the Porsche 917

Photo : Michael Keyser - Autosportsltd.com

Forty years ago exactly, the preliminary tests in April for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1971 were marked by amazing performances of the Porsche 917.

This new long tail version of the 917 was the result of an advanced aerodynamic study. It appeared on track on the 18th of April 1971. At the wheel, Jackie Oliver set a time of 3'13''6 and over 250 km/h average speed. The British driver reached the same dizzying top speed of 386 km/h on the Mulsanne Straight. In June, his teammate Pedro Rodriguez set the 3'13''9 pole position time in the 917 (#18). After leading the first eleven hours of racing, the Anglo-Mexican duo retired at 5am due to an oil pressure problem.

On June 11, 1988, Roger Dorchy established a new race record speed of 405 km/h on the Mulsanne straight (Hunaudières) driving his WM-Peugeot, but Pedro Rodriguez is likely to remain for eternity the author of the fastest pole position in the history of 24 Hours. And since April 18, 1971, no lap has been faster than Jackie Oliver's on the Le Mans circuit.

Jean-Philippe Doret

Photo: 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, 12 & 13 June 1971. This final version of the Porsche 917 LH (#18) is without doubt one of the most beautiful and innovative cars ever seen at Le Mans.