1996 24 Hours of Le Mans: an amusing Porsche story and a surprise winner

1996 24 Hours of Le Mans: an amusing Porsche story and a surprise winner

Leading into the opening of the ticket office for the 84th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a look back 20 years ago at the 1996 24 Hours, won by a unique prototype...and a new record on the books.

The lineage of the No. 7 Joest Porsche TWR WSC is rather unusual: born Jaguar in 1991, it then became Mazda, before losing its top and winning in 1996. At its wheel, a young, 22-year-old Austrian named Alex Wurz became, in his very first participation, the youngest winner ever at the 24 Hours. At his side, German driver Manuel Reuter won his second victory after the one with Sauber-Mercedes in 1989, while Davy Jones is still to this day the last American driver to win at Le Mans. A second model was entered: driven by Didier Theys, Michele Alboreto and Pierluigi Martini, it scored pole position but was forced to retire.

The Joest Porsche TWR won ahead of a pack of GTs: two Porsche 911 GT1s, three McLaren F1 GTRs...the only other prototype present in the top 10 was the Courage of Henri Pescarolo, Emmanuel Collard and Franck Lagorce, which finished seventh. For Porsche, the podium at that 64th edition was paradoxical to say the least. In second and third places there were two factory driver line-ups, beaten by a prototype that came from a private initiative, which was entered by an expert of the marque: Reinhold Joest won his third victory as a team owner, before becoming special partner three years later with...Audi.

Tickets to the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans will be available for purchase on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 (for ACO members) and Friday, November 6, 2015 (for the general public).

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY JUNE 16 1996, PODIUM. From left to right on the highest step on the podium: Davy Jones, Manuel Reuter, Alex Wurz and Reinhold Joest. At left, Hans-Joachim Stück, Thierry Boutsen and Bob Wollek, second; at right, Yannick Dalmas and Scott Goodyear (their teammate Karl Wendlinger not pictured), third.