Porsche is in justifiably high spirits right now. People seem to have an insatiable appetite for the brand’s products; the second generation Panamera and Cayenne are attractive enough that fears of Porsche losing its way now seem to have evaporated. Celebrating 70 years of sports cars this year, the Stuttgart stalwarts are feeling confident. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and doing so in such flamboyant style, must help, too.
So it’s hardy surprising that they’re bringing a party atmosphere to Goodwood this year, and the Pink Pig is here to join the party.
Nicknamed the ‘Pink Pig’; the Porsche’s 911 RSR actually shared its porcine livery of with a car from the brand’s racing past, a 917/20 that raced in 1971. Developed to combine the aerodynamic advantages of the Porsche 917K short-tail and Porsche 917L long-tail, the experimental machine was very oddly proportioned; its wheels were deeply inset into its arches like legs shaded by rolls of fat. So ungainly was it that Martini — Porsche’s race sponsor — is rumoured to have disallowed its classic striped livery to be used on the car. Enter Porsche livery designer Anatole Lapine, who made merry with the paint cans and dressed the car to look like a butcher’s menu of pork cuts. Deliciously self deprecating, and fantastic for public relations.
As part of Porsche’s year of celebrations, the livery returned on the #92 Team Manthey works Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.
I’ve always wanted to visit the 24hrs of Le Mans. Not necessarily for the spectacle, but for the atmosphere and the sensation that you’re somewhere that history is forged. Watching events unfold from the comfort of home, possibly accompanied by a frosty beverage, takes a close second, though. This year’s race was a good one.
As the #92 car tirelessly circulated 344 times, leading pretty much from the beginning, one particular thought was never far from my mind. So many of its racing rivals were frail, fragile looking machines, including the Ferraris. A 488 GTE, gorgeous as it may be, looks like it was designed for blistering speed despite the burden of passenger accommodation. It grudgingly provides a seat for its driver, but he’s very much only there to press buttons, move levers and turn wheels. The 911 is different.
Yeah, okay, in race-car form the interior package isn’t exactly lavish, but the 911 RSR just made it look so easy. Compared to a 488, the 911 looks like a normal car. Lapping Le Mans, the 911 romped up behind backmarking traffic in the same competitive class with such speed and passed them with such dexterity as to look almost arrogant. The Pink Pig took the chequered flag, and the 911 reminded the world just how little effort being a supercar needs to involve.
And here it is. Live and in the flesh, as it were, in all its porky beauty. Still wearing a grotesque layer of Le Mans filth; an all over coating of flies, oil and other badges of honour earned through 344 hard fought laps. If they were hard fought, that is. Might just be that the 911 was the best. And it wasn’t just parked in a comfy compound — the hillclimb echoed to its frenzied oinking, even if its run was more symbolic and celebratory than competitive.
When I watched the chequered flag signal the Pink Pig’s victory at Le Mans back on 17 June, I had no inkling that I’d be crouched down in front of that very car just a month later. And that’s one of the things that makes the Goodwood Festival of Speed so very special. Some of the cars here made their contribution to history over a hundred years ago. Some made theirs within the past month.
(Images copyright Chris Haining / Redusernab… with screen grabs of 24hrs of Le Mans footage broadcast by Quest TV)