Jurgen Barth, a chicane-free Le Mans and a howling Porsche 936 resplendent in Martini livery exposing the massive speed differential between it and the 911 Carreras. It doesn’t get much cooler than this.
What we have here is footage from practice or qualifying for Le Mans 1977 and the car type which went on to win Le Mans three times in total (’76 , ’77 and ’81) with the fabled Jacky Ickx making-up part of the driving team on each occasion.
He was lucky to be involved in the podium celebrations for two reasons in 1977, though. Firstly, the car he began the race with (#3) broke down early on, and he switched to this car (#4) and shared driving duties with Messrs Barth and Hurley Haywood – although at the time their car was down in 42nd place.
In the words of Mr Ickx: ‘I still can’t get my head around what happened next. It was this euphoric state. I drove the whole night through at top speed, always at the limit. In rain and fog. I just got faster and faster. 42nd, 35th, 28th, 20th, ninth, sixth, fifth. Everyone felt that we could achieve the unimaginable. Jürgen and Hurley drove faster than ever, and the mechanics did an incredible job. I didn’t feel tired at all. Then we took the lead.. ‘
But despite that astonishing feat, with about an hour to go the car started to misfire. With no repair possible, the team removed the ignition and fuel injection which supplied the damaged cylinder and the smoking car was hauled over the line by Barth on five cylinders. Ickx again: ‘There are a lot of great stories about a lot of races. But 1977 stands out. That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Races like that have made Porsche a legend.’
So there you have it! Now that you know what unfolded in the race itself, and with those words from Jacky Ickx in mind, take a ride around the track …