Concerning Rob Widdows’ intriguing account of the Porsche ‘Pink Pig’, I found it disappointing that Klaus Bischof denies the evident cause of Reinhold Joest’s crash in the race, given Gerry Sutterfield’s findings regarding the worn front brake pads. It’s not as if Sutterfield made the story up, it’s just a pity that (as far as I know) he didn’t record his findings by taking photos of the brake wear – I guess it never occurred to him that his word would be so disrespected.
John Wyer found that there was often an attitude of what he called ‘NIH’ – Not Invented Here – at Porsche, meaning that they tended to resent anyone else’s input. Same seems to apply to Robert Choulet’s involvement in revising the 917’s primitive aerodynamics. Wyer described the basic 917K – even after it had been ‘sorted’ at the Österreichring in late ’69 – as having the aerodynamic efficiency of a grand piano with the lid open! Reinhold Joest’s own 917 (022) was, I believe, built up by JW-Gulf for Steve McQueen, so it can’t have been that far behind the rest in terms of development, and yet from what Joest says the 917/20 was on a whole other level aerodynamically.
Norbert Singer dismissed it in his autobiography 24:16 as not a very good car which was never going to win Le Mans, but that flies in the face of the facts: with a clear run there’s no question it could have won. Porsche’s old Stuttgart University wind tunnel’s findings were so flawed (as Singer now freely concedes) that the 917/20 was probably far better than it was ever given credit for, and from Joest’s impressions, almost certainly better than the 917Ks developed by Porsche and Wyer.
Der Truffel Jäger may have been aesthetically challenged, but as Joest said, you couldn’t see how ugly it was from inside! If or when Bischof gets his wish and restores it into a runner, it might eventually get the recognition it deserves.
Mark Harford, Coylton, Ayrshire