Porsche 917/10


Porsche 917
After Porsche
Le Mans had won twice with the
iconic 917 Kurzheck,
the engineers at
Weissach converted it
into a Group 7
contender that had
over 1000 bhp by
1973. As a result the L&M
Porsche+Audi 917/10 of
George Follmer and Penske
won the 1972 Can-Am
Championship ahead of the
typically dominant McLaren
team.
The 917/10’s purpose was
to promote the new Porsche
+Audi
dealerships in North
America by winning races.
In 1969, Porsche raced two
of the 917PAs with little
success that eventually led
to the purpose-built 917/10
and
917/30 turbocharged
versions.
The capable team at
Weissach under the
direction of Hans Mezger
and Helmut Flegl created
the 917/10 specifically for
the 1971 Can-Am season. It
was
much wider and fitted
with massive integrated
rear wing that was suitable
for the sprint track races in
Can-Am.
It was also the
shortest 917 ever built.
Mark Donohue described
the 1972 configuration as
having “the meanest,
wildest, ugliest race car
1nose in the entire world.”
Porsche began
turbocharging their 12-
cylinder engines as early
as 1970 to deal with the
great power being
produced by the enormous
American V8s in the
McLarens. Engineer Valentin
Schäffer
was responsible
for fitting the two
Eberspächer Turbos with a
simple intake-to-exhaust
1wastegate system.
First tests with 917/10-001
as driven by Jo Siffert
were fleeting with a lack of
instant throttle response.
He later personally fielded
the second 917/10 with STP
sponsorship
in the 1971
Can-Am season with a few
podium finishes.
For 1972, Porsche decided
to team up with Penske and
Mark Donohue who had
prepared one of the best
Ferrari 512s in 1971.
Porsche also withdrew their
factory team in the World
Sportscar Championship to
focus solely on Can-Am.
Their move was highly
successful by eventually
winning the 1972
championship outright.
With L&M Cigarettes livery,
the Penske Porsches were
developed by Porsche and
Mark Donohue working in
concert. The heavily
revised intake, new
titanium valves and
increased cooling allowed
the engineers to produce a
reliable 18~20 psi and 800
bhp for Penske.
Furthermore, a recalibrated
Bosch fuel injection unit and
intake
manifold relief
valves improved the poor
throttle response from
1971.
To manage the typical 900
bhp that the Penske
Porsche put down, Porsche
revised the gearbox within
the same magnesium
housings. Furthermore, at
Mark Donohue’s request,
the reverse gear was
omitted and the rear
differential was locked at
1100%.
During the 1972 season,
the Penske Porsches
suffered from occasional
technical issues that only
prevented them from
winning every single race.
Mid-season Mark Donohue
suffered a bad accident in a
lightweight
magnesium car
during tesing and was
sidelined. He was replaced
by George Follmer who later
won
five races and the
championship.
Follmer says the car “will
always be special for me. I
got very familiar with it. I
could do almost anything I
wanted with it. I could make
it go as fast as it could go…
The ’72 season was kind of
memorable because I won
2the Trans-Am series too.”
During the same year, Leo
Kinnunen was dominating
the Interserie in Europe
with his 917/10 that was
turbocharged mid-season
for the Finnish AAW Racing
Team.
For 1973, Valentin Schäffer
had completed the 5.4-liter
engine which produced
considerably more power at
1100 bhp at 7800 rpm. The
entire 917/10 outfit from
Penske was sold to Rinzler
Motorracing Royal Crown
who won the first two races
of the season. Later the
new Porsche 917/30 of
Mark Donohue from Penke
steamrolled the rest of the
season for the overall
championship.
Our feature car is the L&M
1972 Porsche 917/10-003
driven by George Follmer to
win
the 1972 Can-Am
championship. In it, George
won at Road Atlanta, Mid-
Ohio and Laguna Seca. It
was later campaigned by
Rinzler Motorracing Royal
Crown in #16 RC Cola
livery.

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