• Abhishek Deshmukh

The one-off Porsche 961 is a forgotten gem

Our previous blog featured a Porsche 959 and the 961 is based on the 959. The 961 project was short-lived, running only three races with a Rothmans livery and no sponsors. After the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally was over, Porsche focused their efforts on the 961 for Le Mans. All-new body panels were formed out of synthetic organic polymer (resin). Only one unit of the 961 was ever built. It was mounted with a 2.85-litre turbocharged Flat-6 engine which delivered 640HP. The 961 was the only car to enter the Le Mans via IMSA GTX category of racing.

It made its first appearance at the May test for the 1986 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 961 was able to show its potential by setting the 10th fastest lap time with a French driver, René Metge, behind the wheel. The 961's lap time was not only quicker than the BMW M1, but also faster than several C1 and C2 class prototypes. It finished the race in 7th position overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It speaks serious racing business on the inside, padded bucket seat, a thick-rimmed three-spoke Momo steering wheel and there’s also a ‘push-to-pass’ button on the wheel. The dash is covered with dials, switches and warning lights.

After facing multiple difficulties in the Le Mans, and with no championship with which to run the 961 against similar race cars, the project was canceled. It is a legendary race car but it did not bring any victories. The 961 was repaired after its crash in 1987 and now it resides on display in the Porsche Museum which is located in Stuttgart, Germany.


The 961 in action -

Video Credits 📹 - History Racing HD (YouTube)

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