After the remarkable back-to-back triumph in the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1996, Porsche returned to the event in 1997 with two 911 GT1 vehicles, brimming with high hopes and aspirations

The 911 GT1 Evo

Diverging from its predecessor, the heavily modified GT1 Evo, the new iteration boasted a range of impressive features, including a sequential six-speed gearbox, as well as advancements in the front, underbody, and aerodynamics. It retained the reliable six-cylinder biturbo engine. With these enhancements, the Porsche team had two strong contenders in their fleet, both vying for the overall victory.

Similar to the prior year, the GT1 with the number 25 was steered by Hans-Joachim Stuck, Thierry Boutsen, and Bob Wollek. The seasoned trio had secured the second position overall in 1996, along with victory in the GT1 class. Expectations were thus naturally high for the favorites, who initially lived up to their reputation. Surpassing the LMP cars in speed, the GT1 cars led the pack, maintaining their position at the forefront until the early hours of the morning. However, a mishap occurred when Bob Wollek lost control of the vehicle on the now damp track at Arnage, resulting in a serious accident. The damage was significant, rendering any further progress impossible.

Meanwhile, teammates Emmanuel Collard, Ralf Kelleners, and Yannick Dalmas in the sister car with the number 26 managed to take the lead. Despite Wollek’s withdrawal, it seemed that Porsche was en route to a dominant overall victory. Nevertheless, another setback followed, leading to the demise of the second factory GT1. Merely two hours before the race’s conclusion, the oil pipe ruptured while Ralf Kelleners was at the helm, igniting a fire at the car’s rear. Kelleners managed to escape the burning vehicle, saving his own life, but at the cost of the dream of a Porsche one-two victory.

The two ill-fated contenders from the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans are now available as 1:18 scale models from WERK83, featuring their distinctive shapes and designs that pay homage to the prime era of the Porsche 911 GT1 Evo, all crafted in the usual impeccable quality.

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