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NSR Porsche 917/10 Can-Am for 2021
#1

NSR have caused quite a stir in the past 24 hours with the announcement on social media of a new-for-2021 Porsche 917/10 Spyder Can-Am model. The factory released this image of a stereolithographic prototype...

   

The 917/10 certainly fits the bill for an NSR car. It's low and compact... but that big rear wing doesn't exactly put weight where you want it. I am sure the final product will be wafer thin and light as a feather. NSR also added two pictures of 917/10 racing cars - the iconic Penske pair from the 1972 Can-Am (a perfect twin-pack) and the yellow Bosch 917/10 that was entered in the 1973 European Interserie by Willy Kauhsen...

       

The Can-Am and Interserie Porsche 917/10 Spyders will certainly give NSR plenty of liveries to choose from - as Fly demonstrated with their version. Compared with the sublime 917K, I've always regarded the 917/10 Spyder as a bit of an ugly brute - an Arnold Schwarzenegger compared to a Steve McQueen, maybe?

   

Despite its rugged good looks, the 917/10 is a hugely significant car. The very open Can-Am rule set allowed Porsche (and Penske) to develop one of the most powerful and dominant racing cars of all time. The turbocharged 917/10K broke the stranglehold of McLaren on the Can-Am series - and the 1973 917/30 effectively broke Can-Am.

Porsche made its debut in Can-Am at Watkins Glen during 1969 - Jo Siffert, Tony Dean and Brian Redman finding their 908/2s woefully under-powered compared to the McLarens. Dean continued to race his 908/2 for the rest of the season, but Porsche shipped over the a prototype 917 PA "Porsche-Audi" for Siffert to race at Mid-Ohio...

       

The 917 PA was essentially the 1969 917 coupé under new open-top bodywork, running with the same Flat-12 normally-aspirated engine that gave up 120 horsepower to the McLarens. Siffert found the car heavy and unpredictable - and the mechanics had nightmares over the complexity of the car. However, it proved reliable, with two retirements in eight races and finishing fourth in the championship. Porsche took a break from Can-Am in 1970, concentrating on their battle with Ferrari in the World Sportcar Championship. Tony Dean continued with his 908/2 and scored Porsche's first Can-Am win at a hot and attritional race at Road Atlanta. Seven 917k coupés were entered at the Watkins Glen Can-Am round (the day after the FIA 6 hour race), finishing second, third and fourth behind Denny Hulme's McLaren M8D.

The start of 1971 was low-key - Vasek Polak entering the 917 PA for Milt Minter and a 908/2 for Dick Barbour. Tony Dean plugged on with his 908/2. However, serious work was underway in Stuttgart to produce a lighter space-frame chassis to attempt a genuine assault on the Can-Am, now the 917k could no longer race in the World Championship of Makes. The new 917/10 made its debut at Watkins Glen - Jo Siffert driving the STP-sponsored car to third place behind the McLarens of Revson and Hulme...

   

Despite the 5000cc Flat-12 engine still yielding over 100bhp to the McLarens, Siffert was able to compete to be 'best of the rest' and ended up fourth in points - finishing all his six races in the top five, with three podiums.

The all-out assault began in 1972. Roger Penske had been approached by Porsche at Le Mans in '71. By the autumn, a contract had been signed for Penske to enter and develop a factory-backed 917/10 in 1972. Penske driver Mark Donohue was not overly-impressed by his first experiences of the car and stayed in Stuttgart for three weeks of forensic testing and development. Penske had persuaded Porsche to give his team exclusive use of the latest updates and a new turbocharged engine for the entire 1972 season. Porsche customers such as Vasek Polak and Peter Gregg in Can-Am - and Willy Kauhsen in Interserie - would start the season with an older version of the bodywork and would be stuck with the normally-aspirated Flat-12 until 1973...

       

Without the turbo, the Penske car was still off the pace. When the new turbocharged engine arrived, the team couldn't get it to work. Donohue ended up flying to Germany, where the fuel-injection was found to be faulty. Bosch redesigned the system and the issue was fixed - Donohue breaking the Porsche test track record by over two seconds. The Porsche 917/10K was ready for the 1972 Can-Am. Donohue took pole at Mosport and finished second - despite a lengthy pit stop. Before the next race, a huge crash in testing destroyed the car and put Donohue in hospital and out of action with a severely mangled leg.

George Follmer was recruited to drive the older test car at Road Atlanta, fitted with the 5000cc Turbo engine. It was quite a challenge - Follmer stepping up from Trans-Am and coming to terms with 900 horsepower and turbo lag at a circuit he'd never raced at. He qualified second and comfortably won the race - the first for the 917/10. Follmer picked up two more wins at Mid-Ohio and Road America, before having to make do with fifth at Watkins Glen after engine issues. Remarkably, Donohue was back for Donnybrooke - just ten weeks after his accident. There was a new chassis from Germany and Penske would run two cars for the rest of the season. The Penske Porsches qualified first and second, but had a disastrous end to the race - Donohue leading until a tyre blow-out caused him to crash heavily, then Follmer dropping to fourth after running out of fuel on the final lap.

Follmer won two and Donohue one of the final three races of the season - Porsche had replaced the 'Bruce and Denny Show' of old with their own 'George and Mark Show'. McLaren's winning streak of five consecutive Can-Am championship was broken - Follmer finished champion with double the points of second place Hulme. Donohue was fourth.

   

Although the turbocharged 917/10K became available to the other Porsche teams for 1973, Penske now had the Sunoco-sponsored 917/30 'Porsche Panzer'. Added to an extensively modified chassis was a new 5.4 litre engine with twin turbos and delivering 1,200 bhp (and a 1,500 bhp 1970s-style 'party mode'). Donohue drove the single Penske 917/30 and annihilated the rest of the field. Can-Am were forced to act and the restrictions they introduced for 1974 - together with the fall-out from the fuel crisis - killed off the series after just four races.

   

The Porsche 917/10 was a common sight in 1973 in Can-Am and the European Interserie - which is great news for potential slot car releases. Donohue's nearest rivals in 1973 were the the 1972 Penske 917/10K cars that has been sold to Bobby Rinzler and were raced in Royal Crown Cola colours by George Follmer and Charlie Kemp - each picked up one race win when Donohue's 917/30 faltered. A young Jody Scheckter drove the Vasek Polak 917/10K - with Brian Redman in a second 917/10K for the final two races - and Hurley Haywood drove the Brumos turbo car. A couple of the German Interserie entrants showed up for the Can-Am races at Watkins Glen and Road America. The Brumos car was the only 917/10 that raced in the shortened 1974 Can-Am season, although 917/10Ks continued in the Interserie through 1974 and 1975.


The Porsche 917/10 can still be seen in historic racing - usually in period liveries - and here's a video of a couple of laps around Laguna Seca in 2018...




I hope you turned up the sound!

Although the Fly 917/10 models were fine (as was the Carrera 917/30) - the thought of a full-blown NSR racing monster sits well with me. NSR should do Can-Am - the ethos of both the series and the company have a lot in common. The NSR Porsche 917/10 will join the Thunderslot Lola T70 MkII and McLaren M6A/B, plus the Slot.it Chaparral 2E and McLaren M8D as high-performance Can-Am slot cars - all but the Chaparral having been Can-Am championship winners. That's getting a good Can-Am-only Classic Sportscar grid.
[+] 3 members Like woodcote's post
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#2

Unless my eyes deceive me, they have reduced the size of the rear fins and lowered the spoiler. Surely that sort of adjustment is unnecessary. How much difference is a few mm going to make?
[+] 1 member Likes Gordon Steadman's post
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#3

It could be the angle of the photo or the 3D printing process, but my first impressions were similar. It will be a compromise - it always is with NSR - but I hope there’s a bit more of a gap between wing and body in the final version.
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