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#21, Porsche 917 Long-tail Coupé, chassis no. 042, Martini Racing Team, at Le Mans 1971 driven by Gerard Larrousse and Vic Elford, here at Porsche Museum Stuttgart May 2017
#21 Martini Porsche 917 LH (chassis #042)
#21 Martini Porsche 917 LH (chassis #042) was driven by Gerard Larrousse and Vic Elford in the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hour race – DNF, lost engine cooling fan

From 1964 through to 1969, Porsche lifted its game from being a class winner to setting international lap speed and endurance records that were beyond the reach of other manufacturers, by quite some margin. In May 2017, I was afforded the opportunity of photographing eight race cars in detail at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, and one of the cars on my list was the #21 Martini Porsche 917-042. She looked absolutely beautiful, resplendent in her stunning Martini colours in rich red, light/dark blue and silver stripery. The graceful lines of this race car are still perfect by today’s standards, and it is little wonder that these cars were so much faster than anything else on the grid in their time.

#21 Martini Porsche 917 LH (chassis #042)
#21 Martini Porsche 917 LH (chassis #042) was driven by Gerard Larrousse and Vic Elford in the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hour race – photographed at the Porsche Museum, Stuttgart, May 2017

The Porsche 917 is what I would call a ‘watershed’ race car, because it was a revolutionary model in so many ways. Through the 1960s, Porsche’s race cars grew from the 1.6-litre 718 RS 60 Spyder that produced 160bhp at the start of that decade and claimed mostly class wins, to the 600bhp 4.9-litre 917 in 1970, which utterly dominated the sports car racing world. A decade is really a long time in motorsport, but finally Porsche had established itself as a world-beater at the top of the global sports car racing pyramid.

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