After years of standstill, Porsche put the 959 from the Paris-Dakar Rally back into operation in 1986. Jacky Ickx drove his former race car during the renewed rollout.
Jacky Ickx, the runner-up in the 1986 Paris-Dakar Rally, drove his former company car at the first rollout. In a Swabian quarry, memories of the 14,000-kilometer rally come back: "Everyone wanted to drive the car on the road back then. And then Porsche decides to send the 959 to a rally in the desert. It's fantastic that I'm part of this story," says the Belgian rally driver.
Jacky Ickx: Winner at Le Mans and Paris-Dakar
Ickx knows the desert rally: He won it in 1983 with a Mercedes 280 GE and retired in 1985 with a Porsche 959 . The racing driver, who was born in Brussels, won the 24-hour race in Le Mans six times; four times with Porsche between 1976 and 1982. His Formula 1 career was already behind him: from 1968 to 1973 he drove for Ferrari, Brabham and Lotus and won eight Grand Prix races.
Porsche at the Paris-Dakar: Victory and defeat
With the racing driver born in 1945, Porsche is sending a multi-talented motorsport driver on the 14,000 kilometers from Paris to Dakar. After last year's bankruptcy, the team had to motivate themselves again. The race director at the time, Peter Falk, remembers the ups and downs of participating in the Dakar after winning with the 953 in 1984: "And then Mr. Bott said: 'We have to compete a second time, once isn't enough.' In 1985 we then dropped out with all three cars. That was devastating. After that we said to each other that we had to do it again. Although we were all a bit fed up after losing everything. And it worked again in 1986. All three cars arrived and a double."
Porsche still has all three race cars from 1986 today. "The winning vehicle remains untouched, we keep it in a time capsule, so to speak, and let the traces of the rally stick to it for as long as possible," explains Kuno Werner, head of the museum workshop. The third car, occupied as a service car by the fast engineer Roland Kussmaul and Wolf-Hendrik Unger, came sixth at the time.
The Dakar Porsche from 1986: as original as possible
The 400 hp Porsche reaches up to 210 km/h off-road. The six-cylinder boxer engine in the rear with register turbocharging and air-water cooling largely corresponds to the standard 959. Body parts made of Kevlar, holes in non-structural metal parts and the absence of anything unnecessary for rally use reduces the unladen weight to 1,260 kilograms.
All three cars were equipped with double shock absorbers and off-road tires.An underbody protection covers the underbody, the engine control units are placed close to the roof to protect them from moisture that could penetrate when driving through water. A good idea, as it will turn out 36 years later: "Today we can see from mud-like dirt that the 959 Paris-Dakar crossed rivers and that there was water in the interior," explains Kuno Werner, head of the museum workshop.
When it is put back into operation, the original look should be retained. Body and technology have never been separate; desert sand trickles out of the car as it is being dismantled. Even cable ties stay where they were during assembly. Even small rust spots, which arose because Kevlar body parts rubbed against the metal during rally use, were "conserved more than repaired". Werner explains the approach as follows: "Only if we get the injuries from back then can we tell the story authentically and preserve it".
The Porsche 959 from the Paris-Dakar Rally from 1986 is a piece of motorsport history that Porsche has brought back to life for several months. While the winning car at the time is to remain as a "time capsule", the number two at the time is now allowed to go out now and then. The next opportunity to see the car will be in the Retro Classics Atrium in Stuttgart from February 23rd to 26th. Hopefully Porsche will let the car out on the track at events in the anniversary year.