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2018 Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI pre-sales now open

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Rennsport Reunion V: We see here Porsche Gulf-liveried 917s and other Porsche racecars winding down Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V: Porsche Gulf-liveried 917s and other Porsche racecars winding down Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew. Credit: Porsche AG

10/18/17 UPDATE:  Pre-sales are no longer in effect.  Tickets went on sale to the general public as of 12:00 a.m., in the Pacific Time Zone, on October 18.

Ticket pre-sales to the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI have opened for a limited time to current members of the Porsche Club of America.

Pre-sales end on October 17, at 11:59 p.m., in the Pacific Time Zone, after which time all ticket sales are opened up to the general public.

So — if you are a current PCA member in good standing — get your tickets now by using the following promo code:  PCAADV

Here’s the direct link to purchase your tickets now using this promo code:

https://oss.ticketmaster.com/aps/mrls/EN/promotion/home

Here are links to access further current and future information:

Stuttgart DNA:

https://stuttgartdna.com/porsche-announces-2018-rennsport-reunion-vi/

Porsche Club of America:

https://www.pca.org/news/2017-08-15/porsche-rennsport-reunion-vi-be-held-laguna-seca-sept-2018

We look forward to seeing all of you there!

2017 GT Technik Open House October 7th

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2017 GT Technik Open House October 7th: GT Technik GT3 Cup at Utah Motorsport Campus. Credit: GT Technik
Credit: GT Technik

GT Technik recently announced the date of its 2017 GT Technik Open House.

The combined Open House / Oktoberfest / and Pre-SEMA Show will be held on Saturday, October 7, 2017, from 3 to 7 p.m.  The big event will take place on the West Coast of the United States, at the company’s Irvine, California, facility.

GT Technik is known for its tuning and motorsport services round the globe, including proactive race prep at worldwide racetracks.  The bi-coastal (in California and Florida too) company is also well-versed in suspension tuning, exhaust systems, performance-brake upgrades, aerodynamics upgrades, custom interiors and custom wheels.

One of the highlights of the day will be the GT Technik Shop Tours, which will clue us all in on the behind-the-scenes inner workings of the high-performance motorsport house.

Among other GT Technik Open House festivities, over 25 performance-products purveyors will be available at their vendor booths, displaying and discussing their wares and services with you.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to pick the participating vendors’ brains with all of your specific performance-upgrade questions that have gone unanswered, until now.

There will also be display cars for you to browse, inspect and admire, as well as food trucks for you to forage and sample their yummy offerings.

Raffles will be held and prizes given away to some of you lucky attendees — but you have to be there to win, to paraphrase that constant refrain about playing the lottery.

If you’d like to reserve a space in order to display your car in or around the festivities during the event’s Car Show, you’re encouraged to RSVP to:  sales@gtechnik.com

The company’s main street will be closed off to general through traffic, to allow for reserved slots during the Car Show, as well as for plenty of spectator and attendee parking.

For the address of — and directions to — the GT Technik Open House in Southern California, click here to access GT Technik’s listing in our Porsche Resources Directory which provides Google mapping and detailed turn-by-turn directions.

Hope everyone attending enjoys the big event.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI

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Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: Shown here on the lower Laguna Seca straightaway between Turns 3 and 4 is the 2015 Porsche Rennsport Reunion V family portrait showing a diverse sampling of Porsche race cars. The grouping spans from the No. 46 356 SL Gmund Coupe to the present-day 919 Hybrid, both Le Mans winners in their respective heydays. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V: 2015 Porsche Rennsport Reunion V Family Portrait. Credit: Porsche AG

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI to be held at Laguna Seca Raceway September 27-30, 2018.  This is the next highly anticipated iteration of the ultimate Porschephiles’ motorsport bacchanal celebrating all racing things Porsche.

To the ecstatic delight of all of us grateful revelers, the 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI will be extended to an unprecedented four days, instead of the usual 3 days during past Reunions.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: Pictured here at Porsche Rennsport Rennsport V is an aerial view of the Laguna Seca grandstand straight and paddock filled with parked racecars in diagonal formation and thongs of spectators. Credit: Porsche AG
Porsche Rennsport Rennsport V:  Laguna Seca Raceway’s front grandstand straightaway and paddock.  Credit: Porsche AG

Laguna Seca Raceway Hosts the Porsche Family Reunion of Racecars Once Again

This is the third time that the world-famous Central California USA Raceway will be the host venue for the Porsche Family Reunion of racecars.

Just a modest scenic drive east from the breathtakingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula, Laguna Seca first hosted Rennsport Reunion IV in October 2011 and then Rennsport Reunion V in September 2015.

Right after Rennsport Reunion V, more than a few of us feared we wouldn’t see Porsche Rennsport Reunion back at Laguna Seca for many, many years to come.  There were some mutterings that the Reunions might move permanently back East.  But finally this week those fears were put to rest.  For now.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: Seen here is a portrait of the late, great Porsche Cars North America PR man Bob Carlson in a hat with a hanging leather strap. Credit: LAT Photographic
The late, great Porsche Cars North America PR man Bob Carlson. Remember him whenever you attend a Rennsport Reunion — and don’t forget Bob’s wife, Debbie, who stood by and cared tirelessly for Bob throughout his long struggle with cancer, until he finally succumbed to it in 2008. Credit: LAT Photographic

Rennsport Reunion Origins and History

A beloved PR man at Porsche Cars North America started it all.  The late, great Bob Carlson was the mastermind behind the first Rennsport Reunion.  It took place in 2001 at Lime Rock and was a resounding success.

The next two Reunions were held in 2004 and 2007 at Daytona International Speedway, the final ones orchestrated by Bob.

Rennsport Reunion V: The Le Mans-winning 919 on display at the last event. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V: The Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid on display at the last event. Credit: Porsche AG

Just as Bob had initially planned and crafted the original concept, the common thread running through all Reunions has become the tradition of bringing together an extraordinary gathering of priceless Porsche racecars.

As an added bonus, the Reunions attract the international motorsport giants behind those racecars in their heyday – the designers, engineers and drivers who teamed up to shepherd these winningest racecars to victory in motorsport competitions all around the world.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: Rennsport Reunion V: Legends of Le Mans in the flesh posing in pre-Rennsport activities. From left to right are Richard Attwood, Gerard Larousse, Vic Elford, Jochen Mass, Jacky Ickx, Hans Herrmann, Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood, Derick Bell, Gijs van Lennep, current Factory driver Nick Tandy, and Hans-Joachim Stuck. Credit: PAG
Rennsport Reunion V: The attending Legends of Le Mans in the flesh are, from left to right, Richard Attwood, Gerard Larousse, Vic Elford, Jochen Mass, Jacky Ickx, Hans Herrmann, Jürgen Barth, Hurley Haywood, Derick Bell, Gijs van Lennep, current Factory driver Nick Tandy, and Hans-Joachim Stuck. Credit: Porsche AG

Activities at and Features of the 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI

Once again, you’ll even be able to meet and get autographs from past and present race-winning Porsche Factory drivers, including many past Le Mans winners.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: Rennsport Reunion V: Pictured here is one of the many driver autograph sessions. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V: One of the many driver autograph sessions. Credit: Porsche AG

According to organizing host Porsche Cars North America, the on-track competition will be supplemented for the first time next year by a Concours d’Elegance.  This new feature will be on offer to all race invitees so they can also participate in Concours competition, if desired.


Here are some links that you need to bookmark to stay up to date on the latest developments about Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI:

The official Laguna Seca Raceway website (to obtain tickets to the event once they become available).

The official Porsche website about all Porsche Rennsport Reunions (to learn about Reunions past, present and future).

The official Porsche Club of America website (to get the latest updates on PCA’s plans for and activities at Rennsport Reunion VI)

The official StuttgartDNA website (to learn about the latest general developments on Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI).

The official Monterey Peninsula lodging website (to help you secure lodging once room rates during the event become available.  Also check out the usual travel websites to find lodging.)


California — A Major Porsche Regional Sales Market with a Large Concentration of Porsche Enthusiasts

Ever since the end of World War II, the state of California has become one of the biggest — if not the biggest — markets for Porsche automobiles in the United States.

So it was only natural for Porsche Rennsport Reunion to gravitate out West from the right coast.  Out here on the left coast, we’re considered to be some of the most fanatical Porschephiles on the planet.

Consequently, Laguna Seca Raceway on California’s Central Coast is a perfect fit for Porsche’s Family Reunion of racecars out West.

Porsche announces 2018 Rennsport Reunion VI: From Rennsport-Reunion V: Pictured here are 3 Legends of Le Mans racecars among the throng of thrilled spectators. Credit: PAG
Rennsport Reunion V:  3 Legends of Le Mans racecars among the throng of thrilled spectators. Credit: Porsche AG

“Choosing the Monterey Peninsula once again for our unique Porsche family reunion builds upon what we learned from previous Rennsport Reunions,” said Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America.

“We had close to 60,000 fans, enthusiasts and owners come through the gates of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to celebrate with us in 2015,” continued Mr. Zellmer.  “And California’s picturesque Central Coast provides an ideal backdrop.  The Golden State as a whole has always been like a second home to Porsche.”

Rennsport Reunion V: We see here Porsche Gulf-liveried 917s and other Porsche racecars winding down Laguna Seca's famed Corkscrew. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V:  Gulf-liveried Porsche 917s and other Porsche racecars winding down Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew. Credit: Porsche AG

“We are honored to have been selected once again as the host circuit for Porsche Rennsport Reunion,” said Gill Campbell of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  “This prestigious event has created a tremendous impact on motorsports around the world in the past, and we are eager to bring it back to life again in partnership with Porsche.  It is truly the most rewarding event I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in.”

Porsche Club of America (PCA) Joins Rennsport Reunion VI Again

Once again, the Porsche Club of America (PCA) will be a key coordinating participant as it has in the past.

For example, during the last 2015 Rennsport Reunion V, PCA member-owned cars numbered over 1,300 Porsche automobiles carpeting the Laguna Seca model-specific car corrals and general-parking lots to overflow capacity.

Rennsport Reunion V: Here's a shot of bumper-to-bumper PCA lunchtime attendee parade laps. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V: Porsche Club of America lunchtime attendee parade laps. Credit: Porsche AG

The multiple PCA Porsche-only parade laps on the Raceway’s world-renown track were a sight to behold.

According to the PCA website, “PCA will provide a hospitality tent with refreshments and presentations by Porsche insiders for members in attendance.  More information will become available in the near future.”

In addition the PCA website also indicates the following regarding Porsche Rennsport Reunion V:  “PCA Club Racing contributed to the racing with its own run group, named the Sholar-Friedman Cup after PCA founder Bill Sholar and PCA Club Racing founder Allen Friedman.”

Rennsport Reunion VI Welcomes International Porsche Enthusiasts to Laguna Seca

So we get to do it all over again next year.  And it’ll be here before you know it.  So make your plans now.

Rennsport Reunion V: The joint be crawlin' with 718 RS Spyders. Credit: Porsche AG
Rennsport Reunion V:  The joint be crawlin’ with 718 RS Spyders.  Where else are you going to have the pleasure of experiencing such a giddy delight?  Credit: Porsche AG

We at StuttgartDNA hope to see all of you, from across the globe, here in California, at Laguna Seca.

The famed Raceway will once again become the center of the Porsche Universe from the 27th through 30th of September 2018 during Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI.  Don’t miss it for the world. . .

Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide

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Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide: Porsche classics -- from 356s and 911s, to 928s, 944s and Boxsters -- are seen parked on a high plateau overlooking picturesque mountainous terrain in the distance. Credit: Porsche AG

With Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide, the future looks bright not only for Porsche AG, but also for the more than 70% of all Porsche vehicles that are still on the road across the globe.

Thus the German sports-car manufacturer headquartered in Stuttgart is expanding its market share of maintaining and servicing classic and modern-classic Porsche vehicles round the world.

Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide — more are planned across the globe

Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide - Porsche AG opens Son Norway Porsche Classic Center - Seen here is the Norway Classic Center night facade. Credit: Porsche AG
Porsche Classic Center Son, located in southern Norway.  Credit: Porsche AG

Porsche Classic Centers versus Porsche Classic Partners – Is there a difference between the two?

A Porsche Classic Center is a fully self-contained entity specializing in the maintenance, repair and restoration of classic Porsche sports cars and, soon, Porsche SUVs.  The latest example as of this writing is the new Porsche Classic Center Son, located in Norway.

The first three Porsche Classic Centers to open worldwide are as follows (in order of opening):

A Porsche Classic Partner, on the other hand, is different only insofar as it is under the roof of a pre-existing Porsche Center dealership.  Conversely, a Porsche Classic Center is a self-sufficient, stand-alone entity under its own roof.

Click here to access the Porsche Resources Directory listings of Porsche Classic Centers. 

Click here to learn more about Porsche AG’s concept and development of Porsche Classic Partners. 

Click here to access the Porsche Resources Directory listings of Porsche Classic Partners. 

The common bond between Porsche Classic Centers and Porsche Classic Partners is that they both are based on an astonishing statistic:  Greater than 70 percent of all Porsche sports cars ever built are still running on the worldwide highways and byways today.

Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide - A silver Carrera GT is pictured here at the opening of the Porsche Classic Center Son, in Norway. Credit: Porsche AG
The Grand Opening of the Porsche Classic Center Son. Credit: Porsche AG

So the business model is quite simple, now, isn’t it?  Who better to service, maintain and restore all of these classic cars than an authorized Porsche dealership?  Not to mention who better to also supply them with over 52,000 genuine Porsche and Classic Porsche spare parts?

Porsche Classic Centers and Porsche Classic Partners share one crucial element:  providing superior service and genuine parts

Porsche Classic Centers opening worldwide - Seen here is a classic green 911, its engine lowered from its bay, at the opening of the new Porsche Classic Center Son, Norway. Credit: Porsche AG
Another angle during the Grand Opening of the Porsche Classic Center Son. Credit: Porsche AG

“Alongside the continual expansion of our Classic range of genuine parts, the Porsche Classic Centers and Porsche Classic Partners around the world represent a crucial part of our strategy,” asserts Alexander Fabig, Director of Porsche Classic at Porsche AG.

So it stands to reason that another shared trait between the two entities is that each provides competent service advisors and technicians who combine expert service and consultation for their clients who possess classic, vintage Porsche automobiles.

Consequently, Porsche Classic clientele can expect Porsche to guarantee a uniformly high standard of quality service.  This results from Porsche’s special training program for the employees of all Porsche Classic Centers and Partners, which closely links Porsche tradition with Porsche innovation.

Porsche AG nails mid-year 2017 worldwide sales record

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Porsche AG nails mid-year 2017 worldwide sales record - Panamera rear lettering in Taiwan. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

The Porsche powers-that-be have to be savoring the company’s ever-upward sales trends for the first six months of 2017 — i.e., Porsche AG nails mid-year 2017 worldwide sales record.

The Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen sports-car manufacturer delivered more cars in this first half of 2017 than during any first six months of any other year in its history.

As has been the case for several consecutive months, the Macan model line continues to be the unstoppable engine driving this phenomenal sales growth.  The sporty, agile SUV is surely king of the off-road hill in terms of highest volume of raw sales.

The re-designed Panamera model line, however, outpaces the Macan in terms of manifesting the strongest percentage growth in this first six months – commanding a highly impressive increase of 54%(!).

Speaking of favorable impressions, Detlev von Platen acknowledges the substantial contribution that the Panamera model line has made to Porsche’s bottom line.  As a Member of the Executive Board responsible for Sales and Marketing, von Platen asserts, “The enthusiastic response from customers has been overwhelming.  The plug-in hybrid versions and the new Sport Turismo version of the Panamera will provide us with even more momentum.”

Here are the models that showed the greatest legs in the first half of 2017:

  • Macan models – double-digit growth of 11%, surpassing the 50,000-unit mark
  • 718 Cayman and Boxster models – additional positive increases in growth
  • Cayenne models – 35,601 SUVs were delivered, slotting into the position of the second most popular Porsche model line, behind the Macan line
Porsche AG nails mid-year 2017 worldwide sales record - Chart - Porsche AG First Half of 2017 Worldwide Sales. Source: PAG
Source: Porsche AG

In terms of regional world markets, China, which has the greatest obvious growth potential, unsurprisingly snagged the brass ring for being the largest single national market this time around.  The communist / quasi-capitalist country boasted sales of 35,864 vehicles, a substantial increase in growth of 18% over this same 2016 time period.

Once the perennial best-performing market year after year, the United States this time ranks second behind China, with sales of 27,568 units, an increase of 3%.  Sales on German home turf showed similarly satisfactory numbers from last year, at 15,474 countrywide deliveries, an increase of 1%

Porsche June 2017 USA sales

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Porsche June 2017 USA sales - A Macan shell is seen here at the Leipzig among and being assembled by yellow-colored robots. Credit: Porsche AG
Credit: Porsche AG

Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) announced its mid-year sales figures for the United States.  According to the report, the Panamera sedan notwithstanding, sports-car sales plummeted both from June year-over-year sales and 2016 and 2017 year-to-date sales.

Yet, despite these relatively sharp declines, U.S. deliveries squeaked out an overall net-net increase in sales figures.

How?

Well, PCNA owes it all to strong SUV sales, especially the Macan model lines.

Incidentally, this should be an object lesson for the Porsche-purist “Never-SUVers” crowd — continued success of the Porsche SUVs and Porsche Panameras in the multi-model roundup ensure the continued successful production of coveted Porsche sports cars in both the near and distant future.

Porsche June 2017 USA sales: Chart-June 2017 Porsche US sales. Source: PCNA
Source: PCNA

Porsche June 2017 USA sales — by the numbers

So the numbers break down as follows.  U.S. Porsche Dealers sold a total of 4, 516 units in June 2017, a negligible 0.8% increase over June 2016 numbers.  Year-to-date figures were slightly better.  2017 year-to-date vehicle sales of 27,568 units amounted to an increase of 3.2% over 2016 Y-T-D sales.

What kept these figures barely on the positive side, as alluded to above, were the formidable Macan SUV sales.

The Macan produced yet another robust sales month in June, yielding 1,871 deliveries.  This represents another whopping 53.1% spike over the same month in 2016.  Year-to-date Macan sales produced an amazing 10,638 deliveries, again showing a healthy increase of 30.9%

In addition, the Panamera chalked up respectable numbers.  All Panameras yielded a modest increase of 2.4% over last June, with of 518 units delivered in June 2017.  Even better, though, are the year-to-date figures of 3,001 Panamera “sports sedans,” a spike of 36.5% over Y-T-D 2016.

Porsche Approved Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales weighed in at 1,477 units in the States.  This shakes out at 8,964 CPO year-to-date sales units, up 7.2% for the first half of 2017.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win

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Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Enzinger and No-2 winning team of Hartley, Bernhard and Bamber on podium lifting trophies. Credit: Porsche AG
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President, LMP1), Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber, (l-r). Credit: Porsche AG
Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: "Green, green, green!" Start of the 2017 Le Mans 24. Credit: Porsche AG
“Green, green, green!”  The glorious 2017 start of the 85th Running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Credit: Porsche AG

All looked hopeless for the 2017 LMP1 919 Hybrid Porsche Team.  But then the resident rennsport gods of immortal Circuit de la Sarthe at long last appeared to grudgingly smile down on Stuttgarter Teammitglied [the team members from Stuttgart].

Despite impending gloom and doom, one LMP1 prototype hurtled round and round the track, playing Herculean catch-up.  That Hybrid race car finally managed to finesse the 2017 Le Mans hat trick* — as well as secure the unprecedented 19th overall Porsche win at the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


*Hat Trick” or “Hat-Trick” or “Hattrick”

“A hat trick or hat-trick in sports is the achievement of a positive feat three times in a game, or another achievement based on the number three in some sports….

In motor racing, three successive race wins, winning the same event three times in a row….”

Source:  Wikipedia


 

But before the gods turned their furrowed frowns upside down in favor of Porsche, disaster struck in deuces.

The No. 2 Porsche LMP1 919 Hybrid first suffered the Le Mans trademarked agony of looming defeat.  It happened at 6:30 p.m. local time.  It was only three and a half hours after new American Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey started the race by flying France’s Tricolor flag.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: The No 2 919 Hybrid is seen here being backed into the garage, its right side facing us as it moves from right to left, the sun still shining in b.g. Credit: Porsche AG
The No. 2 919 Hybrid slipping back into the garage.  Credit: Porsche AG

Piloted by Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ), the No. 2 car lost its front-axle drive, with Bamber behind the wheel.  It languished in the pits over an hour for repairs on the MGU (motor-generating unit), leaving ultimate Le Mans 24 conquest up to the No. 1 car.

But just when it looked like the No. 1 hybrid was a cinch to bring home Porsche’s 19th Le Mans victory, disaster struck the Porsche LMP1 919 Porsche Team for a second time.

With Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB) tag-teaming driver duties, the No. 1 prototype likewise fell prey to the omnipresent enduro-gremlins du Mans, with 3 hours 51 minutes to go in the race.

At 11:09 a.m. Le Mans time, on lap 318, in the rising Pays de la Loire heat, Lotterer radioed the pit crew, “—Uhhh, no oil pressure.”  Lotterer’s engineer urged him to shut down the internal-combustion engine.  Immediately.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Porsche 919 Hybrid 4-cylinder engine: 919 4-cylinder turbo engine (1 of 2). Credit Porsche AG
Porsche 919 Hybrid 4-cylinder turbo engine.  Credit: Porsche AG

Parenthetically, the Porsche 919 Hybrid prototypes each utilize both an internal-combustion V-4 turbocharged engine and electric motors on both ends of the car to generate neck-snapping torque and mind-blowing speed.

Adding insult to injury, No.1’s battery charging level simultaneously plummeted all on its own.  So our new man Lotterer from former WEC arch-rival Audi couldn’t even rely on the electric power units to get him back to the box.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: No 1 in blurry pits. Credit: Porsche AG
Surreal moment.  No. 1 in the pits, as lead-up to its crushing but calculable Le Mans retirement.  Credit: Porsche AG

Adding more insult to injury, after leading the race for only the past 10 hours, No. 1 bid auf Wiedersehen to the June French classic.  This spelled a big fat fatal D-N-F for the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid at the 2017 WEC Le Mans 24 — a devastating heartbreak after initially leading the entire field by a whopping 13 laps.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Seen here are a pensive Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer in deep discussion on garage tool cases. Credit: Porsche AG
Nick Tandy, Neel Jani and André Lotterer (l-r), pilots of the ill-fated No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid. Credit: Porsche AG

“We tried to nurse the car home but it was not to be,” lamented Neel Jani.  “Last year we had the luck on our side but this year was not the case.”

No doubt dejected, too, and probably more so since it happened on his watch, Lotterer recounted the pesky little gremlins’ shenanigans firsthand:  “We were driving really conservatively but suddenly the oil pressure dropped.  To retire this way is hard.  But this is Le Mans.”

In fact, watching No. 1’s on-board video feed, one could sense the utter despondency just peering into Lotterer’s piercing blue eyes through his helmet while his 919 was stalled on the side of the track.

Once he was able to walk back into the garage, it became even more palpable as he embraced all of the Porsche executives as if in wordless apology for not finishing the race, Lotterer choking back the heartbreak.  Four-time overall Le Mans winner with Porsche and class-act Jackie Ickx in turn chatted with Lotterer in the garage, clearly consoling him.

Meanwhile, however, those aforementioned deities of the Sarthe slowly began to unveil an encouraging change of heart in Porsche’s favor.

Bamber, Bernhard and Hartley’s No. 2 919 Hybrid had earlier emerged from the pits about 1 hour and five minutes after their MGU snafu.  That’s how long (or, depending on whose side you’re on, short) it took Team Porsche to work their German-engineering magic on the front axle’s hybrid motor-generating system.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: No. 2 exiting pits. Credit: Porsche AG
The No. 2 919 Hybrid finally rolls out of the garage — 19 laps down.  Yikes!  Credit: Porsche AG

Hartley took the wheel for the first time and rolled out the pit box with exactly 19:24:59 left in the race.  The No. 2 prototype jumped back into the fray at 7:35 p.m.   In 54th place.  A mockingly provocative 19 laps down.  Waaaay behind the race-leading No. 7 Toyota Racing LMP1 car.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Pictured here is the No 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid racecar accelerating out of Arnage on the Ciruit de la Sarthe of Le Mans. It's making up lap after lap after lap. Credit: Porsche AG
The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid rockets out of Arnage, making up lap after lap after lap. Credit: Porsche AG

In fact, one Fox Sports announcer essentially wrote off the No. 2 Porsche.  That commentator was purported racing guru Brad Kettler, who joined the Le Mans broadcast team for the first time this year.

A viewer’s tweet during the broadcast drooled, “Brad on the air is the greatest thing since sliced bread.”  Kettler pretty much seemed to concur, if his wordless reply meant anything.

Conversely, Kettler wasn’t at a loss for words moments later when, in his sleep-inducing sotto voce monotone, he decreed that the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid “is too far back to really be a factor in the race.”  He was referring to that challenging 19-lap deficit.

In spite of Kettler’s aloof brush-off, the No. 2 car steadily advanced.  More than up for the challenge, Hartley pulled multiple stints, gaining one lap after another after another.  He pitted for his final refueling at lap 312.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Timo Bernhard is seen here jumping in the No 2 to Porsche's 19th Le Mans-win glory. Credit: Porsche AG
Timo Bernhard jumps in the No. 2 919 Hybrid, on his way to rack up Porsche’s 19th Le Mans win. Credit: Porsche AG

Then at lap 325, Hartley turned the car over to Bernhard — Hartley having brawled his way back, all the way up to an historic P4 from P54, in the No. 2 Porsche.

Unprecedented?  Anything’s possible when it comes to legendary Porsche.**


**When is a Race Car Too Far Back to Be a Factor in a Race?

It was exactly 40 years ago.  1977.  Porsche was way down back then too.  In P42 during the 45th Running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  In those days, the race was also known as the 45th Grand Prix of Endurance.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Seen here is the Martini-liveried Porsche 936/77-Spyder, overall Le Mans 1977 winner, running on track, with crowds watching, pressed up against the fence in background. Credit: Porsche AG
The No. 4 Martini Porsche 936 Spyder — overall winner of the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans — is seen here on track during that actual Le Mans 24 race.  (Also refer to Le Mans 1977 video directly below.)  It was piloted back then by Jacky Ickx, Jürgen Barth and American Hurley Haywood.  Credit: Porsche AG

Six-time overall winner Jacky Ickx (BE, 72) recalls the miraculous turnabout in the No. 4 Martini Porsche 936 Spyder — not unlike Porsche’s latest 19th win — this way:

“After three hours, we thought we’d lost the race.  My 936 was out, and I joined up with Jürgen Barth and American Hurley Haywood.

“But they were having trouble as well.  We were in 42nd place.  I still can’t get my head around what happened next.  It was this euphoric state.  I drove the whole night at top speed, always on the limit.  In rain and fog.  I just got faster and faster.

“42nd, 35th, 28th, 20th, ninth, sixth, fifth.

“Everyone felt that we could achieve the unimaginable.

“Jürgen and Hurley drove faster than ever, and the mechanics did an incredible job.  I didn’t feel tired at all.  Then we took the lead.  On Sunday morning I was totally spent.  In the end, Jürgen hauled the 936 across the line with only five cylinders.  I wouldn’t have been able to.

“There are a lot of great stories about a lot of races.  But 1977 stands out.  That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.  Races like that have made Porsche a legend.”

This was Porsche’s 4th overall win at the 24 Heures du Mans.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Pictured here in Martini Racing livery is the overall winner of the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans on track at Hockenheim during Porsche's Heroes of Le Mans event in October 2013. Credit: Porsche AG
The 936 Spyder is seen here once again, years after retirement, on the track at Hockenheim during Porsche’s Heroes of Le Mans event in October 2013. Gijs van Lennep, the 1971 and 1976 overall winner for Porsche, is driving in this photo. Credit: Porsche AG

[Or maybe more than a “once-in-a-lifetime thing” when it comes to Porsche, hmn?  –ED.]


 

Surprisingly, or maybe not for Circuit de la Sarthe, the remaining LMP1 cars in the class endured their own setbacks during the 85th Running of the 2017 24 Heures du Mans.

The cats from Japan suffered the greatest attrition.  The No. 7 Toyota sustained clutch issues.  The No. 8 Toyota LMP1 flamed out in trailing billows of smoke, forced to box-box for major front-motor repairs, while the No. 9 danced the clumsy-footed cha cha with the No. 25 LMP2 Manor Oreca at pit-out, putting itself out of the race.

The No 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid is pictured here on track with a blurry Porsche banner across the course in b.g. Credit: Porsche
The No. 2 LMP1 Porsche 919 Hybrid is back on track — ruthlessly hunting down the No. 38 LMP2 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson, which is leading the race at this point.  Credit: Porsche AG

Then, at 12:50 p.m., the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid clawed all the way back to running on the same lap, race lap 330, as the leader.

As alluded to above, that leader wasn’t an LMP1 car, though.  Because the LMP1 prototypes were so beleaguered at that stage in the race, P1 was an LMP2 car — the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson.

Bernhard had to pit for fuel, however, after 338 laps.  It appeared as though all of his dogged efforts might have been in vain.

But then it happened.

On lap 347 the long-time factory team driver for Porsche wrestled away the race lead from the Jackie Chan Oreca.

Bernhard refueled on lap 351, and again pitted for a final splash and go on lap 360.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win:Seen here is the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid reaching the checkered flag in hard-fought first place in spite of all of the naysayers and Doubting Thomases. Credit: Porsche AG
The No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid reaches the checkered flag in hard-fought first place in spite of all of the naysayers and Doubting Thomases. Credit: Porsche AG

Then — as has happened for almost the past 7 decades in over 30,000 race victories — Porsche providence intervened once again in yet another race:  After the sole-surviving 919 initially went down 54 laps, the German took the checkered flag for the marque of Porsche after 367 laps.

The Jackie Chan Oreca crossed the finish line behind Bernhard in P2 to become China’s first Le Mans entry to win its class (LMP2).

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Oliver Blume (Chairman, Porsche AG) is seen to the right of Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber in the Le Mans garage. Credit: Porsche AG
Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber with Dr. Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG (l-r). Credit: Porsche AG

“What a dramatic race!” exclaimed Dr. Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr. Ing. h.c. Porsche AG.  “A fight back from P54 to P1 — the Le Mans myth is alive, exactly because of such unbelievable stories like we experienced [here].”

Some will say that luck is always in the mix during such circumstances.  Perhaps.  But maybe it could be a little luck, along with an admixture of some mysterious Factor X.

So what else could have indulged the Rennsport Deities de la Sarthe to this degree?

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Fritz Enzinger, Porsche Vice President LMP1, is seen on the 2017 Le Mans 24 podium holding up his victory laurel and wearing the "Hattrick" shirt. The shirt commemorates Porsche winning Le Mans overall three years in a row (2015, 2016 and 2017 -- 17th, 18th and 19th victories, respectively). Credit: Porsche AG
Fritz Enzinger, Porsche Vice President LMP1, is seen on the 2017 Le Mans 24 podium wearing the “Hattrick” shirt.  The shirt commemorates Porsche winning Le Mans overall three years in a row (2015, 2016 and 2017 — 17th, 18th and 19th victories, respectively).  Credit: Porsche AG

Perhaps Fritz Enzinger, the man who has been there ever since the genesis of Project 919 Hybrid, has the simple and perhaps entirely explicable answer about any such Factor X:  “It’s unbelievable what you can achieve in a focused team effort.

“Sometimes it is not the fastest car but the best team performance that makes the difference,” mused Porsche’s Vice President of the LMP1 Program knowingly.

This year’s winners call themselves members of the “Porsche Team.”  Yet all along they’ve been just the latest iteration of that Team Porsche which embarked upon racing since the genesis of the marque in the late Forties.

Aptly named for more reasons than one, Porsche No. 1 was the very first winning race car for the marque.  After the war, on July 11, 1948, Herbert Kaes, Ferdinand Porsche’s nephew, raced Porsche No. 1 to a class victory in Austria — Porsche’s very first race win.

Ever since then, Porsche has been one of the winningest sports-car manufacturers in the world.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Pictured here are Fritz Enzinger (Vice President LMP1), Dr. Wolfgang Porsche (Chairman of the Porsche Supervisory Board) and Andreas Seidl (Team Principal Porsche Team) (l-r), in the 2017 Le Mans 24 LMP1 garage. Credit: Porsche AG
Fritz Enzinger (Vice President LMP1), Dr. Wolfgang Porsche (Chairman of the Porsche Supervisory Board) and Andreas Seidl (Team Principal Porsche Team) (l-r). Credit: Porsche AG

“This team is the best of all and made today’s success possible,” Mr. Enzinger continued.  “Personally I can only say ‘thank you’ to Porsche for putting me in the position to set up such a great program and thanks to every single team member for the total support and the great team spirit.”

Well, rumor has it that this illustrious and wildly successful 919 Hybrid program may soon be coming to an end — but if so, then, thankfully, it’s culminating on such an extremely positive note and an ecstatically high climax.

Amid such rumors, Porsche scored the monumentally elusive Le Mans hat trick — thus entitling Porsche to retain the priceless Le Mans 24 trophy.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Pictured together here are Michael Steiner (Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, Porsche AG) and Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President, Motorsport and GT cars) (l-r). Credit: Porsche AG
Michael Steiner (Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, Porsche AG) and Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President, Motorsport and GT cars) (l-r). Credit: Porsche AG

“The ‘triple’ in Le Mans is a dream come true for Porsche and the way this third consecutive win happened is very special,” extolled Michael Steiner, Board Member of Research and Development, Porsche AG.  “I’m proud of the Porsche Team that kept fighting despite the long stop for repairs.”

Indeed, what a team, and what an extraordinary team effort — now immortalized in the annals of Le Mans.  We may or may not ever see such a group endeavor garnering three successive race wins, including a simultaneous record-holding 19 wins at Le Mans, ever again.

The gods du Mans indeed tend to smile upon near-flawless teamwork.

Porsche 2017 Le Mans 24 hat trick – 19th overall win: Seen here is an entire group photo of Porsche LMP1 Team overall winners of Le Mans 2017. All are posing in front of a huge Michelin-sponsored banner entitled, "Porsche -- Overall Winner -- 24h of Le Mans 2017." Behind them are the garages for the No. 1 and No. 2 Hybrids along pit row. Credit: Porsche AG
Stuttgarter Teammitglied [the team members from Stuttgart].  The entire LMP1 Porsche Team. Credit: Porsche AG
So kudos to our Stuttgarter Teammitglied.  Nothing about winning can be taken for granted at Le Mans, of all motorsport races in the world.  Of any sports competitions in the world.  Period.

Each and every one of you Porsche LMP1 Team members attained Le Mans victory the old-fashioned way, as the saying goes — you all earned it.

 

Now here’s our compiled video homage to the Porsche 919 Hybrid team and program: