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Thierry Boutsen, David Hobbs, Skoal Bandit Porsche Team, Porsche 956B, leads the field onto the formation lap
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How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

There were deep problems in the Porsche hierarchy in Stuttgart in the late 1970s, and these threatened the company’s interest in endurance racing, especially at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Professor Ernst Fuhrmann, the CEO, believed that the rear-engined, air-cooled 911 had a limited lifeline. It could not meet new regulations regarding emissions and noise output that would dominate the 1980s, he thought, and Porsche would depend on a new generation of water-cooled sportscars: the 924, 944 and 928. On a chart in Fuhrmann’s office the 911 would stop production in 1984, and development work on the six-cylinder model virtually ceased in 1978. 

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