The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing’s greatest era

Porsche is returning to the top class of Le Mans with an LMDh prototype that it hopes will write its next successful chapter in sportscar racing. But it will have to go some to emulate its 956/962, a car which defines the Group C age more than any other.

No car won the Le Mans 24 Hours more times than Porsche’s 956 and its long-wheelbase sister, the 962. And no car won more world championship sportscar races, or championships for that matter. The career statistics of the Group C and IMSA GTP coupe give the machine a pretty much irrefutable claim to the title of greatest sportscar of the past 70 years. But the 956/962 deserves this unofficial crown for many more reasons.

Longevity is one of them. Porsche’s prototype won on its debut at Le Mans in 1982 in 956 guise, and claimed a sixth in a row in 1987 as the 962C. Its days were far from over in the Group C arena, however. It would almost certainly have won the 24 Hours in 1988 but for either one of two separate and distinct fuel issues, but it still had another victory at the French enduro in the tank as a GT car: the Dauer 962 Le Mans Porsche to give it its full name, in 1994.

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