908 – “You had to drive fast, but really respecting the car”

What was it like to drive the 908/3 Targa Florio-winning car of Brian Redman? Emanuele Pirro got a chance to drive it and tell us about it. I love his take on racing the old cars versus the new technology:

“In the older days, you had to have a good feeling for the car. So you had to drive fast but really respecting the car, gearbox, engine…and have a very, very good feeling with your teammates when to attack, how to abuse the car, when to preserve the car, the brakes and everything. When I went back to Le Mans the new time, there was nothing you could do to break the car. So, the thing required from a racing driver was just to drive as fast as you can. Of course, without crashing and keeping the car on the road.” – Emanuele Pirro

From the history books: “Despite the more powerful 917 improving towards the end of 1969, the career of the 908 would continue in parallel. On rather twisty and slow tracks like Nürburgring and Targa Florio, the 917 was not suited well even after being modified to the “917K”. So rather than trying to make “one size fit all”, Porsche built dedicated cars for each type of racing track. Based upon the lightweight and short Porsche 909 which was used in hillclimbing, the new open cockpit version, the 908/03, was even shorter than the 908/02, and only weighed 500 kg (1,100 lb)- an astonishing figure for a long-distance racing car- in comparison, the 917K weighed about 840 kg (1,900 lb). This version was successful in the 1970 Nurburgring 1000 km and the Targa Florio, where typical speeds were only about half of the 240 mph (390 km/h) which the 917LH long tails could achieve at Le Mans.”

Some stats: 2990 cc 8-cyl engine; 370 hp (280 kW); top speed: 290 km/h (180 mph). 3 lbs per horsepower – a bit less than a La Ferrari or Veyron Super Sport.