Porsche 961 IMSA-GTX with start number 203 in the Porsche Museum
With the Porsche 961 Porsche developed the mid-1980s, a modified race car for circuit racing version of the Porsche 959, which should inherit the legacy of the highly successful 935, but never to build on its successes could.
End of 1985 (when the development of the 959 was still in full swing ) it was decided at Porsche, on the basis of the chassis WPOZZZ93ZFS010016 to build a single piece of a racetrack version of the very successful in rallying 959. The vehicle was completed at the beginning of 1986 and introduced a short time later as a 961 coupe IMSA-GTX the trade press. It was taken over by the base 959 of the allowed in the IMSA GTX class all-wheel drive, as well as the 2,847 -liter bi-turbo engine, which originally had 956 performs his duties in the Porsche, whose charge pressure, however, for 961 of 0.8 to 1 was increased 25 bar. In addition, the Motronic was retuned adjusted the map and additional intercooling achieved through more efficient and larger intercooler. The high- line unit now had 500 kW at 7800 rpm and a maximum torque of 656 Nm at 5000 rpm. The circuit was - but fundamentally revised - taken from the 959. The six-speed transmission, which passed it by a rigid through- drive the power to the four drive wheels, also came from the base vehicle. Differences from the 959 are found mainly on the body, which has a larger and adjustable for racing rear wing, and has some additional cooling air openings. The rims of the 961 were just like the 959, but painted aluminum alloy with magnesium at 961 completely black.
Racing and racing success
The racing debut of the ungesponserten 961 in 1986 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was with the starting number 180 very successful for Porsche, the car and the Fahreren René Metge and Claude Ballot -Lena. As the only participant in the IMSA GTX class of cars finished the race as a class winner and on the 7th place overall. That based on the road-going version 959 homologated vehicle started doing 26 on the grid. Porsche could also pleased that only one other manufacturer was represented in the top ten. A record that remains unbroken to this day. During the race, the car reached top speeds of up to 330 km / h on the Mulsanne and could be reduced by the adopted by the Group C racing cars 956 brake its speed again safely.
The further development of the 961, however, should not be so run, as they had expected at Porsche. To disturbing factors were the heavy and braking at higher speeds and mature murdering four-wheel drive. Bad Aerodynamics ( including in particular the case of a race car anyway not just low fuel consumption drives even higher ) and problems with the gearbox made the situation is not promising.
The consequences of these problems were dramatic: the 3- hour race at Daytona on October 26, 1986, reached the time in the GTP class with the number 15 driving and taking off from the 29th place 961 - driven by Günter plug- king and Kees Nierop - only the 11th place in its class and 24th overall.
In June of 1987 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the car started for his third race. The 961, now with the starting number 203, covered in the colors of the sponsor Rothmans and driven by René Metge, Claude Haldi and Kees Nierop, could not finish the race due to a broken fire due to an accident caused by the guest driver Nierop. Nierop interconnected on lap 199, placed after the 6th to 2nd gear and released the clutch. Result was an over-revving the engine to 15.000/min. , Immediate blocking of the motor and the gearbox and all-wheel drive. This stood in spite of high speed at once all four wheels still, why Nierop crashed into the barriers. The dripping on the turbocharger and exhaust pipes engine oil ignites the car, driver Nierop but could emerge unharmed.
At Porsche, we then decided to stop all development work on the 961 and to concentrate on the Indy Project. By half-hearted commitment of the parties and inconsistent problem addressed problems with 961 (which largely relied on the largely taken over by the 959 technology ), the vehicle could ultimately never show the potential that really stuck in it.
The vehicle is now considered part of the permanent exhibition "Success Story: Porsche Motorsport " in the EFA Museum for German automotive history in Amerang / Chiemgau.