1983 Porsche 956 Pilots: A. Holbert, H. Haywood, V. Schuppan Team: Porsche AG / Rothmans Race: 1st overall (Class C) at Le Mans in 1983 Spark - 43LM83 (resin)
Porsche 956 #12 (05/09/17):
For 1982 FIA changed the rules of the game: gone was Group 6 class and in came C class. With the rule change Porsche needed a substitute for the venerable 936, and the all-mighty 956 was born. The engine, basically the same used in the 936/81 (Type-935) was a turbocharged flat 6 of 2.65 l. This time, however, it had EFI, making the engine more economical and capable of 635 hp. The chassis, a first for Porsche, was an aluminum monocoque, and the 956 was the first Porsche to use the PDK dual-clutch gearbox. And another first for the 956 was that it was the first Porsche to use ground-effect. The project was so effective that the 956 generated 3× more down-force than the 917. The result of all this? For four years straight the 956 dominated at La Sarthe.
The 956 debuted in 1982 at La Sarthe with a bang: on its first year, it finished 1-2-3. And to make things even better for Porsche, it also won in the other four classes that year. So for 1983, the expectations for the 956 were quite high. The Rothmans Team was again a works team, and they had four cars in the race. Car #33 was in fact a camera car, that would shoot the race for a film about Le Mans. However the producer had financial troubles and the film was postponed, so Rothmans deleted the car from the grid. Interestingly, Vern Schuppan was transferred to 956 #3. The 1983 car was a little different from it’s predecessor. It now used a Bosch Motronic electronic fuel injection and variable suspension geometry.
As expected, the race was an in-house affair between the 956s. In theory Lancia’s LC2 should pose a challenge to the 956, but their Ferrari engines just couldn’t take it. However, the winner was only decided on the last lap. The 956 #3 was in the lead and had one lap on the second place car (Bell’s 956 #1). It would be a smooth win for #3, but then it’s engine started to overheat. With Holbert on the wheel, 956 #3 had to slow down to a snail’s pace. With that, Bell gained a lap and Holbert’s engine finally seized almost at the finish line. In desperation, he was able to re-fire it and managed to crawl over the line, just 17 seconds ahead of the 956 #1. A short few meters after the engine gave up the ghost for good.
Never a single car model dominated Le Mans like the 956 in 1983. At the start there were eleven 956s, and only two of them failed to finish. But most impressive of all, of the first 10 places, only ninth was not taken by a 956. Something like that has never happened before and very doubtfully will ever happen again. So you can say 1983 was a true “Porsche 956 Fest”.
So… I got myself another 956. And a Rothmans winner, nonetheless. Being from Spark, the Rothmans livery does not come applied to the car, and come as decals. After around 10 minutes of effort the model was with a complete livery. One of the reasons I love Spark is their commitment to collectors like me that cherish historically accurate models. And, of course, making true gems in 1:43.