This car won the hardest race in the world in 1971. In 2017 it won again, by arriving all the way from Ireland just in time to accompany me while watching the 85th edition of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans was a race for the history books. It was the first to use the Indianapolis start (running start after a warm-up lap), after the Le Mans start (running to the cars from across the track) was deemed too dangerous to the drivers. The fastest lap ever recorded at the circuit (3:13.9) was run in qualifying by the Porsche 917LH of Pedro Rodriguez and Jackie Oliver. The winners of the race set a new distance record over their 397 laps (the nice symmetrical sum of 5335.313km), a record that would not be eclipsed until in 2010 three Audi R15 TDIs ran farther, with the winning #9 of Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Mike Rockenfeller running 5410.7km over their 397 laps. Finally, 1971 was the last year that the race ran on the 13.469km configuration.
Interestingly, the top three spots in qualifying went to long tail 917LHs, followed by a Ferrari 512M in 4th, and the #22 of Marko and van Lennep in 5th. At the end of this race of attrition, though, only 14 cars would cross the finish line, one of which was not even classified. And that select group contained exactly none of the 917LHs that ran so strongly in qualifying. The #22 917K outlasted them all to cross the finish line first.
The car itself, and the race as well, have been amply documented by now, with both Jobjoris showing the car (by Brumm) a few days ago, and edu-petrolhead doing the same two years ago (by IXO-Altaya). Mine, however, is a non-Altaya IXO, and is pretty amazing, if you ask me. It might not be up to Spark level amazing, but for less than half the price I’d say the price/quality ratio is phenomenal!
The decals are spot-on, the small body details are all there, from the number lights on the rear deck to the incredibly delicate windshield wiper. The vents are real vents , the wheels roll, and the tail pipes are actual pipes. It misses detail on the interior, which is probably what sets it apart from Spark, but who cares!
The main reason why I wanted this particular 917 out of all the ones that exist, is that it makes a great companion to the Porsche 908/3 that the Dutch/Austrian wonder twins drove to a 3rd place at the 1000km of the Nürburgring not two weeks before Le Mans.
Enjoy the race, everybody!! Like TFritsch said, I’m a Porsche guy, but I kind of hope Toyota sheds its Le Man bad luck and finally wins one. They are off to a good start with the top 2 spots on the grid, but as the 1971 race taught us, a good qualifying spot is no guarantee of a good race outcome.