Porsches unlike others (5) : 924 Carrera Turbo
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Porsches unlike others (5) : 924 Carrera Turbo

In addition to a record sixteen wins, the history of Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has sometimes been marked by cars that, despite having not won, have created their own legacies in La Sarthe with their originality and performances, such as the 924 Carrera Turbo from 1980.

Appearing as of 1976, the road version of the 924 car marked a great revolution in Porsche's history. Until then, the 911 car launched in 1963 had been the posterchild for the Stuttgart automaker in the collective memory, with the characteristic sound of its six-cylinder air-cooled rear flat engine. Conversely, the 924 car was the first Porsche marketed with a front-mounted engine (four-cylinder water-cooled in-line). It also had weight distribution optimized by its installation at the rear of the gearbox. It was a good commercial success until 1988.

In 1980, Porsche decided to commit three Le Mans 924 Carrera Turbo cars toward development. They had to be driven by a team 100% British (No.2, Tony Dron-Andy Rouse), another 100% American (No. 3, Peter Gregg, Al Holbert) and a third 100% German (No. 4, Manfred Schurti-Jürgen Barth). But, as the victim of a road accident in France while on his way to a test session, Gregg was replaced by the Brit Derek Bell. He had won the 24 Hours in 1975 like Jürgen Barth did in 1977. Despite rainy weather and valve problems during the race on Sunday morning for the No. 2 and No. 3, the three 924 cars finished the race: Schurti Barth in sixth place, Dron-Rouse in twelfth and Bell Holbert in thirteenth. Three 924 cars were at the start again in 1981, but only two of the factory cars crossed the finish line (seventh and eleventh).

The objective was to develop the Porsche 924 car in competition, as was done with the 911 car, in order to arrive at the 935 car. But 1982 was the last year the 924 car appeared in La Sarthe, resulting in a sixteenth place finish. That same year, the new Groupe C prototype regulations saw the birth of the 956 car then the 962 C car, that would go on to win six consecutive victories at Le Mans.

For more of the Porsche saga at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, go to Official Microsite Mission 2014 – Our Return.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO

The 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on June 14th and 15th.

Photo : LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY 14TH & SUNDAY 15TH JUNE 1980, RACE. In sixth place, Manfred and Jürgen Barth Schurti (No. 4) secure the best finish of the Porsche 924 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.