The 1972 season broke, ushering in with it a new era of racing. The Porsche 917 had reigned supreme for two years, but the race authorities (read FIA) had had their fill of Porsche interpreting the rules their way, and for 1972 a 3-litre engine limit had been applied. This capacity limitation was also introduced in an effort to slow the cars down but this ruling played neatly into the hands of the French manufacturer, Matra, who had been developing their MS670. Ferrari, for the first time, withdrew from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, citing the fact that their 3-litre V12 engine would not last the distance. Matra occupied first and second places on the starting grid, and that is how they finished 24 hours later. Porsche at Le Mans Part IV basically takes a look at the decade of the ‘70s, up until the start of Group C in 1982.
Porsche at Le Mans 1972 – June 10/11
Porsche was represented by a band of six 908s, the best of the bunch being the #60 driven by Reinhold Joest, Mario Casoni and Michel Weber. The Porsche 908 was still powered by its evergreen 2997cc flat-eight which was a more than capable combination. The 908s were joined by a pair of 907s and a lone 910, plus no less than seven 911 S. The ACO was making it clear that they favoured GT cars, and so Porsche did not feel the need to develop any new hardware for that season. This situation was no doubt influenced by the fact that the Porsche family were in the process of vacating their management roles within the company, and this was thought not to be the best time to commit to any new race car or engine development.
As it happened, the Joest 908 LH put in an excellent performance, finishing third behind the two Matras. On the GT front, although Ferrari was not present with an official works team, they did support their customers and the five V12 Daytonas occupied positions five through nine. The only 911 to finish was the #41 2.5-litre S/T driven by Juergen Barth, Michael Keyser and Sylvain Garant, crossing the line in 13th place overall and sixth in the Grand Touring class, where it was up against the 5-litre Daytonas.