Snapshot, 1971: Tucked away for safe keeping

It’s June 1971, and race prep for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans is well underway. Continuing its 20-year tradition, Porsche has set up its “home away from home”, a garage in Teloché, where everyone is working hard to ensure that its 917 fleet ends up on top of the podium…

After the success at last year’s Le Mans, the Porsche team is all the more focused on another year of race domination. As part of their winning formula, Porsche is doing all of its last-minute preparations and modifications away from the lively and overcrowded pits on the racetrack, setting up shop in a barn in Teloché. Space is limited, so bodywork is propped up and tucked away in any space available while the final tweaks are made to the engines. Number 21, one of three LH, or long-tail versions, participating in this year’s race, will be campaigned by Vic Elford and Gérard Larrousse of the Martini International Racing team, with the other two being campaigned by Jo Siffert/Derek Bell and Pedro Rodriguez/Jackie Oliver, both under the J.W. Automotive Engineering banner. Qualifying will turn out to be quite successful, with all three LHs on the podium — number 21 sandwiched between the two J.W. Automotive Engineering machines. Unfortunately for the long-tail models, none will see the final lap of the race, as all will retire early due to engine failure. To add insult to injury, this would be the last year for these large-engined 917s to participate in the race due to new size-limiting FIA regulations in 1972.

Photo: Michael Keyser