Thursday, June 7, 2018

Project CARS 2: The legendary Porsche 917K

Gearing up for the upcoming Le Mans race and while in the process of celebrating 70 years of Porsche, the producers of Project CARS 2 were so kind to us to provide us one of the most iconic Porsche racing machines part of the Porsche Legends Pack. So iconic, you may have recognized it from the Le Mans film starring Steve McQueen.


Called the 917K, it is known as an the short-tail version of the legendary 917, a sports prototype race car, and it gave Porsche their first overall wins at Le Mans for two straight years since 1970. Due to its Le Mans success, Steve McQueen took behind the wheel on the 1971 film, Le Mans, and forever catapulted to the motoring hall of fame.


There is a major story about Porsche's Le Mans winner. Since March 21 1969, the eve before Sebring 12 Hours, Porsche racing director Rico Steinemann presented John Wyer, manager, an offer they can't refuse and that is if Porsche can make it to the next two racing sessions. Upon witnessing the 917 at the 1969 Geneva Motor Show, Wyer believed that this has a potential future in the world of motorsports but the GT40, in pairs, dominated Sebring with Porsche ended up second place. In 1970, JW Automotive decided to swap their prize-winning Fords with Porsches but due to the longtail's poor stability which is deemed dangerous, they gone off with the 908s instead. Besides, it managed to killed driver John Woolfe on the first lap of Le Mans. Such pitiful result let Wyer gave the dismal machine a new lease in life and after a few alterations, the 917K was born.


The advent of the 917K made John Wyer's masterpiece scored a 1-2 finish at the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona while smashing the record distance of 190 mils in just 724 laps. One of the most dramatic moments of this machine was in Brands Hatch while in the middle of the heavy rainfall where the #004 car and the #016 car as well as the other one driven by the de facto Porsche works team driver were present at that time. The #004 car is gone when a Ferrari driver nudged him out in lap 177 while the #016 car won the race by five laps.


Early variants were powered by a 4.5L flat-12 engine but it was increased to 4.9 liters and then, five liters, their maximum they did to the 917K. Through out its tenure, it won 7 out of 10 races ever participated and despite being used in most races except Le Mans, its numerous improvements made the 917 range one of the most successful racing machines ever to emerge from Porsche.


Given the opportunity, I am one of the many people who got the desire to try out Porsche's legendary racing prototype at Le Mans and see if it lives up to its legend. Given the layout of this machine, I find that the 917K was difficult to handle even at slow speeds but when you get your foot hard on the accelerator, you can really hear the magic of the flat-12 engine that makes you hear like it's the 1970's again and experience the car that propelled its way from victor to superstardom. Although the 917K is more of a challenge of me to master but it's a dream come true to get to know the greatest heroes of Le Mans history in a rather amusing way and as part of remembering 70 years of Porsche, this one takes the spot as one of the best racing machines from Porsche.

With that, I've prepared a little clip to see how it feels to drive the 917K.


The Porsche 917K really is one of the all-time greats in Porsche's 70-year history and no matter how hard to try and get things right with this machine, you should be thankful that you have been given the chance to drive the machine popularized by Steve McQueen from the Le Mans film and taking a bite on this machine, this racing prototype is just one of the many reasons why we love Porsche.

Be sure to check out the 917K and all the other Porsche greats in Project CARS 2's Porsche Legends Pack, available now.

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