The Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca brought together the history of Porsche motorsports in one place. The cars present represent everything from the earliest 356s to the RS Spyder that's still competitive in international sports car competition. The drivers attending came from every era as well, and include such Porsche racing legends as Tony Adamowicz, Dick Barbour, Derek Bell, Vic Elford, George Follmer, Hurley Haywood and David Piper. We spoke to some of the Porsche icons about their favorite and most significant racecars. This time: Brian Redman.
If there's any doubt about Porsche's commitment to winning, consider the 908/3. The 908/2 was a very successful racecar in 1969, and Porsche handily won the World Championship with it, thanks very much to Brian Redman and Jo Siffert, who won at Brands Hatch, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, the Nurburgring and Watkins Glen that year. And although Redman and Siffert missed out on victory at the Targa Florio, Porsche swept the top four positions with the 908/2.
In 1970, though, Porsche had worked out the handling problems with the 917 coupe, thanks to adding a longer tail and thus more downforce to the rear. “John Wyer's engineer, John Horseman, found that at a test at Osterreichring,” notes Redman. “I think the Porsche engineers knew what the problem was, but Ferdinand Piech wouldn't let them increase the drag any more than it already was.” The 917 was the factory's weapon of choice for the 1970 championship. There were two exceptions to that, however; two races on demanding tracks with long laps for which the 917 wasn't well suited.
Enter the 908/3, which Redman describes as one of his favorite Porsche racecars.
“You really can't compare it to a 962 or a Spyder, because they're from different eras and they're all very different,” Redman says. “But in its day, the 908/3 was pretty fantastic. And it was built only for the Targa Florio and the Nurburgring. This was an example of Ferdinand Piech's far-sighted vision and determination, because the 908/2 that we were already using in 1969 was a very good car, yet they were already building the 908/3 for two races. And it won both of them. At the Nurburgring, my co-driver, Jo Siffert, and I were leading when we were running short of oil. Because of that, Vic Elford and Kurt Ahrens won in the Porsche Austria car.”
But at the Targa Florio in Sicily, it was Redman and Siffert's turn to win a race that eluded them the year before even though they dominated much of the rest of the season.
“When I took over the car from Siffert, we were in fourth place and I caught the leader, the local hero Nino Vaccarella, in the factory Ferrari 312. Three times on my first lap, I tried to pass him, and he was going to push me off the road – there was no way he was going to let me pass. So I sat 100 yards behind him for 100 miles, waiting for the pit stop, and we passed him in the pits. So it wasn't a very glorious win,” he recounts with a laugh.
Redman notes several elements that made the 908/3 well suited for the Sicilian road race, including its light weight, wide front tires, and the fact that Porsche even went to the trouble of putting fifth gear out of the shift gate – it was only used once per lap on the Targa – leaving a normal H-pattern for first through fourth. But as much as he loved the fact that it was just plain good, he appreciates the 908/3 for its longevity. For a car that was built to win two races, it had a remarkable competitive life span.
“When the rules changed for 1972, Porsche were really out of it, because they didn't have the power of the Ferraris and they put in a minimum weight. Previously there was no minimum weight and the 908/3 was 1100lbs. But with the minimum weight, Porsche didn't compete and they went to Reinhold Joest and became turbocharged. They were very successful and it was basically just the same car. It was racing for 10 years. It's a bit like the Lola T332 Formula 5000 cars, which started in '72 as a 330 and was still going in 1980 as a Can-Am T333.”
The 908/3 remained successful for its intended purpose in '71 before the rules changed, winning at the Nurburgring 1000km in the hands of Vic Elford and Gérard Larrousse. It was successful on Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, also. Redman used a 908/3 to good effect to beat a trio of 917s in the Weissach Cup race at Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV.