1986 Porsche 961 Pilots: R. Metge, C. Ballot-Léna Team: Porsche AG Race: 7th in GC (1st in class IMSA GTX) at Le Mans in 1986 Spark - S0960 (diecast)
When Porsche started developing the 959, the basic idea was to have a possible substitute for the 911. To get the most out of the program, it could also be used as rally car. But since it would be legal for Group B rallying, why not modify it for Le Mans? And that’s how the 961 came to be – a 959 for La Sarthe. The 961 was very similar to the 959 road car, but with a wider body and larger rear wing. The engine was the same Typ 935/76 boxer-6. Displacing 2849 cm³, it originally delivered over 440 hp, but for racing that went up to 640 hp. The famous driver-adjustable damper and suspension systems were deleted, to lower the weight and keep things simpler.
Entered in the IMSA GTX class (experimental cars), the 961 #180 was the first four wheel-drive car to race at La Sarthe. Despite some engine troubles in the beginning of the race, the #180 scored a default class win (it was the only car in it’s class ). Even so, it also finished in a very solid 7th overall. In the following year, this exact same car (chassis #WP0ZZZ93ZFS010016 ) was back at Le Mans, though this time in Rothmans livery, but suffered an accident and caught fire on the 199th lap. The fire totally destroyed it, but afterwards Porsche restored it and is now at the Porsche museum.
To me the 959 is the archetypal supercar, bar none. It is my dream car ever since I first saw it in 1985. So a 959 that raced at Le Mans? Instant grail model for me! And I could even choose between two models, this and the #203 Rothmans. The Rothmans is pretty rare, but fortunately this #180 isn’t. Thanks the diecast gods that a good brand like Spark reproduced the 961 #180 in 1:43. A true beauty!