1969 Porsche 917 Pilots: J. Siffert, K. Ahrens Team: Karl Freiherr v. Wendt Race: 1st overall (S5.0 class) at Zeltweg in 1969 Spark - MAP 02043119 (resin)
Porsche 917 Geneva Presentation (06/11/19):
Porsche’s motorsports department, headed by Ferdinand Piëch, started to work on the Typ 917 in July 1968. Even with huge expenses, the idea was to recover the investment by selling the surplus cars to privateers. They started from scratch, with a totally new and very light aluminum chassis. And the same went for the engine, the new groundbreaking Type 912 – a 4494 cm³ flat-12. Even for Porsche, creating a brand new prototype from scratch was no easy task. But to really complicate things, Porsche promised it would reveal the new car at the Geneva Salon de l’Auto. But that was in March 12th-14th next year! And Piëch pulled it off – the first working prototype (#917-001) of the new 917 was ready on the evening of March 10th.
However, the finished car had issues. Serious issues, in fact. At extreme speeds it was very difficult to control, to the point that factory drivers called the 917 “The Ulcer”. The car had a tendency to lift at higher speeds, and Porsche’s engineer’s tried hard to correct that. At the time, they (erroneously) believed that the fault was at the front of the car. So they tried all sorts of front stabilizers that in the end only alleviated the problem. With such serious issues, the 917 had a very rough maiden season. It didn’t fare well at Spa (DNF) and Nürburgring (eight place) and at Le Mans there was even a fatal accident. The next race for the 1969 International Championship of Makes would be the Grosser Preiss von Österreich, in Austria.
The first race held at Zeltweg, Austria, was the 500 Km of Zeltweg, at the Zeltweg Airfield in 1963. The circuit had a really bad surface, so for 1969 organizers built a new circuit in the region, the Österreichring. With the brand new track the race got longer, and on October 8th, 1969, happened the first 1000 Km of Zeltweg. The big favorite was Jacky Ickx in a Mirage M3, starting on pole position. As always, there were many Porsches in the race, from 911s to 910. But there were also two 917s, 917 #29 (chassis #917-009) and #30 (#917-010). Both started up front, in fourth and sixth places respectively. In the end, Siffert and Ahrens’ 917 #29 finished in first place, while Attwood and Redman’s 917K #30 was third.
Finally Porsche had some good news about the 917. The car was still far from being considered good, but the Zeltweg victory brought hope. With that, the 917 #29 is an important car because it was the first victorious 917. Being the HUGE 917 fan that I am, this was a must buy. And since I finished 2019 with the last 917 to race, why not start 2020 with the first 917 to win? About the model there’s not much to say but that it’s a regular top-notch Spark. The only problem is availability. Though it was not expensive, it’s not a plentiful model right now. So I have a feeling that this one will be a rare find in the future.