Porsche 908/03 Spyder '71
Premiere: May 16, 1971 Targa Florio
The 1971 model of 908/03 got large rear fins, much larger new style roll-over bar and more power to the 3-litre 8-cylinder boxer (now developing around 280 kW). The new roll-over bar and larger wheels added 20 kg (now 565 kg/1245 lb). There were only two cars built as new '71 cars (chassis 908/03-012 and 013), the rest being '70 cars modified to '71 specs.
The first race for the new model was Targa Florio on May 16, 1971. Porsche had already won all podium places in 1969 and 1970, so hopes were high for 1971, too. Three 908/03s were fielded, but unfortunately all had to retire because of accidents. Two weeks later, at the 1971 Nürburgring 1000 km everything went "back to normal" again: 1-2-3 victory to new model 908/03 Spyders. The winning #3 car was driven by Vic Elford/Gérard Larrousse. Porsche had won the Nürburgring event now already 5 years in a row and together with most podium places (1967: 910-910-910, 1968: 908/01-907, 1969: 908/02-908/02-908/02, 1970: 908/03-908/03, 1971: 908/03-908/03-908/03). Ferdinand Piëch was the king of the kings of racing car engineers.
Like a year before, the 908/03 Spyders were only used for two events in 1971. The cars were not used after Nürburgring 1000 km in May and were sold to private teams, but not before the end of the season. Private teams raced the cars until 1974 with wins and podiums every season: 1972 Monza 1000 2nd, Interlagos 500 km 1st, Interserie Nürburgring 2nd, 1973 Interserie Nürburgring 3rd, Norisring 3rd, Misano 3rd, Kyalami 9H 1st, 1974 Neubiberg 1st, Interserie Nürburgring 3rd... Although these cars were not designed for round the clock races, some of the cars used by private teams were fitted with headlamps. The works team took a break in 1975, but provided support to customers contesting Le Mans. Reinhold Joest fielded a 908/03 '71 fitted with the long tail of the 917/30 which was modified specifically for Le Mans. The car was ran with the 917 tail only in the Le Mans 24H and already a month later it could be seen at the Watkins Glen 6H with the 908/03 Turbo's rear cover which it had used already earlier in the season. For 1975 season Porsche also supplied 2.1-litre turbo engines for customers who wanted to keep running their 908/03s. 2.1-litres was the maximum allowed size for turbo engines to fit into the 3-litre class.
Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com
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