Porsche 956B #7 – Spark

956b #7
1984 Porsche 956B #7
Pilots: K. Ludwig, P. Barilla, J. Winter
Team: New-Man Joest Racing
Race: 1st overall (C1) at Le Mans in 1985
Spark - S0991 (resin)

Published 12/04/20

Reinhold Joest began racing in 1962. In 1969, he finished in fifth at Le Mans, piloting a GT40, and was frequently a works driver for Porsche. In 1978, he established his own racing team, Joest Racing, in Wald-Michelbach, Germany. Always using Porsche cars, Reinhold Joest was team owner and pilot until his retirement in 1981. His last go at La Sarthe was with a Porsche 908/80, shortly before he retired that same year. During that period the team had some brilliant results in Europe and North America, mainly using a 935. However, starting in the 1982 season, FIA changed the rules of the game. Gone was the Group 5 class, substituted by the new Group C, so the mighty 935 lost its dominance. As expected, Porsche was on top of the situation, and as a result introduced the 956 in late 1981. 

956b #7
Along with the 935, the 956 is undoubtedly one of the most iconic cars from Stuttgart at La Sarthe.

Powered by an air-cooled, single-turbocharged flat-6 with 2650 cm³, the 956 was an instant success. Good enough in fact for a 1-2-3 victory by the Rothmans works team at La Sarthe in 1982. In 1983, Porsche was back at La Sarthe with Rothmans, and again the 956 came in first. However, Porsche canceled the partnership with Rothmans for 1984, so they did not have a works team at La Sarthe that year. In 1984, they released the 956B, with a new Bosch Motronic engine management system. The new 956B was now not only slightly more powerful than the 956, but also more fuel-efficient. Since there was no works team for 1984, Porsche elected Joest Motorsport as their de facto factory team. With full factory support, Joest’s 956B #7 came in first place overall. That year either a 956 or 956B took the first seven (!) places of the race.

956b #7
In 1985, the 956 took its fourth consecutive win at La Sarthe. No other car ever did that.

With the smashing success of the 956B, for 1985 Porsche had once again a Rothmans factory team. However, the works team consisted of the new 962C, but 956B privateers would receive factory support. Stimulated by their previous victory, Joest Racing returned to La Sarthe, but with a tighter budget. Hence, instead of three cars of the previous year, this time they would race with only two cars. So the team consisted of the same 956B #7 (chassis #117) and 956B #8 (chassis #104) that raced in 1984. Moreover, history repeated itself: while car #8 had to abandon (due to an accident), 956B #7 came in first overall. One year later and once again, the 956 dominated the race. The 956B came in the first five positions, with a lonely 962C in third.

Impossible shot – same chassis, same livery, different years.

The 956B #7 here is basically a repeat of the 1984 car, in form and substance, but it’s a (great!) Spark and overall Le Mans winner. Being honest though, they look so alike that I find it hard to tell them apart. Despite that, it’s a must for the Le Mans nut but maybe not very enticing to the more casual collector. For me however, this is a special acquisition because this is my 400th model!

Boy, I still remember when I got my first, the Ferrari 166MM. “This looks so nice, I could start collecting again…” 😜 I don’t think that back then I would believe I would have such a collection or even W-143 a few years later. However, three and a half years and 399 models after that and here I am. It has been a nice journey so far, so let us hope for more nice cars and good stories 🍻.

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