Porsche 908/03 Spyder '71
Premiere: 1971 May 16 at Targa Florio
Visually, the 1971 version of the 908/03 can be told by the large rear fins like the 1971 version 917. The 908/03 also got much larger safety 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 version 908/03 was Targa Florio on May 16, 1971. Porsche had already won all podium places in 1969 and took 1-2 in 1970, so hopes were high for 1971. Three 908/03s were fielded, but unfortunately, all of them had to retire because of accidents.
Two weeks later, at the 1971 Nürburgring 1000 km everything went "back to normal".
Porsche took 1-2-3 victory with the 1971 version 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 with most of the podium places (1967: 910-910-910, 1968: 908-907, 1969: 908-908-908, 1970: 908-908, 1971: 908-908-908). Ferdinand Piëch deserved to be really proud.
Like in 1970, the 908/03 Spyders were only used for two events in the season.
The 908/03 cars were not used after the Nürburgring 1000 km race in May and were sold to private teams after the season. Private teams raced the cars until 1974 with a few wins and podiums: 1972 Monza 1000 km 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 908/03 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 the top speeds at Le Mans. It finished 4th, which was the best result for a Porsche in 1975.
For the 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 engine to fit into the 3-litre class.
Article © James Herne / Stuttcars.com
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