I think we can all agree 2020 has been a year we’d all like to erase from our memories. Likewise Covid and all that has come with it. The promise of an effective vaccine is currently offering us a glimmer of hope, but until then we need a means of escape. Fortunately, I have the answer: a time machine.
As lockdown projects go this was an ambitious one, but after many months in the garden shed I’m pleased to say the device is built and has completed a limited test programme. Having taken the executive decision to ignore travelling into the future - who wants to drive around in electric cars anyway? - the machine can only travel back in time. Specifically to pivotal moments in Porsche’s motorsport history.
Admit it. You’re curious, aren’t you? Just tap-in the date and the place and it’ll whisk you to that moment in space and time quicker than a 917-30 on full-boost. The downside is my Public Liability Insurance cover limits users to one trip (if you think jet lag is bad...), but if you pay for the Gold upgrade package I’ll nip back ahead of you and arrange a Porsche press car of the period to drive while you’re there.
Sounds good, huh? But where and when would you aim for? With so much choice it’s hard to focus on one moment above all others. Having given it considerable thought I steadily whittled it down to the following shortlist: Nürburgring to witness the 911R’s victory in the 84-hour Marathon de la Route; the Alpes Maritime to watch Vic Elford slides his 911T to victory in the ’68 Monte Carlo Rally; a wet weekend in France to cheer Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood to the 917’s 1970 Le Mans win; a hot weekend at Road America watching ’72 Can-Am champion George Follmer battle mighty McLarens, privateer Porsches, out-there Shadows and even the NART Ferrari 712M in his Penske 917/10 to win from 13th on the grid.
And then I remembered the Targa Florio. As if it wasn’t proving hard enough choosing just one trip back in time, I’d forgotten to include arguably the greatest road race of them all on my list. Shame on me.
So, Sicily it is. But which year? Back in 1999 I visited the island for the very first time, driving a then-new Gen 1 996 GT3 for an Evomagazine feature to recount the 911’s giant-slaying outright win in 1973. To head back there to witness that famous edition of the Targa would be a mind-blowing squaring of the circle, but my chosen time travelling companion - Sports Purpose’s James Turner - ‘helpfully’ throws in a curveball by suggesting the 1969 race as a preferable alternative.
As ever JT provides shrewd counsel, for by swerving the ’73 Targa - which Martini 911 RSR win aside was actually something of a damp squib due to the early demise of the big Ferrari and Alfa prototypes - he opens up the opportunity to see Porsche System Engineering Ltd’s factory squad operating at the height of its powers, with a 1-2-3-4 finish for the 908/02 following Vic Elford’s virtuoso drive to victory in ’68.