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Le Mans legends star in the sun at Festival of Porsche

Sunday, September 21 2014

The heritage of Germany's most revered sports car marque was celebrated in fine style today (Sunday) at the Brands Hatch Festival of Porsche.

One of the day's major highlights was the appearance of Group C Porsche's on the track, with five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell reuniting with the first 956 ever built which he raced in 1982. Speaking after a run in the Rothmans-liveried machine, Bell commented: "It's fantastic! It runs amazingly well and the engine really grunts, I mean coming along here [the Brabham Straight] it wants to really go when you shift gear.

"I think when we had the 917, which I drove back in '71 for the factory, that was such a spectacular car that you didn't believe it at the time, but then there was a ten year lapse when we drove 935s and things like that. Then you get in something like this and by the time they built the 962 you realised it was going to be really special, and it was the most incredible sports car era ever really."

"That was unbelievable," he added after driving the Dunlop-liveried 962 he drove to second at Le Mans in 1988, "the two cars I've driven today are the first Porsche 956 I ever drove and the last factory car I ever drove in my life so it's pretty special. It was lovely; it was like an old girlfriend really, it was fantastic."

Richard Attwood, who won the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours race, also had a go in both cars and hailed the event. "It's similar to the one we had ten years ago and it's a great family atmosphere," he commented. "The kids are here, and the kids that have come today will be our future customers, so it's all playing for the future and heritage."

Visitors were also treated to a selection of non-running display cars, including the Sebring 12 Hours-winning Porsche RS Spyder, the Porsche 911 GT1 '98 which claimed the brand's most recent Le Mans win 16 years ago, and a full-scale replica of the Porsche 919 which ex-Grand Prix driver Mark Webber currently pilots in the World Endurance Championship.

Porsche's illustrious road car history was also commemorated, with the 40th anniversary of the 911 Turbo being marked by a special track parade and a display of 74 machines, from the original 930 Turbo, as unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in '74, to the latest state-of-the-art 991.

The marque's current flagship supercar, the plug-in hybrid 918, was another star road car, whilst many of the country's most pristine Porsche's went head-to-head in Porsche Club GB's National Concours competition.

Racing action included the triple-header finale to the Porsche Club Championship, which was wrapped up by Pete Morris, despite an eventful second race in which he failed to finish on the podium for the first time this season. Spectators on the free grid walk ahead of the second Porsche Club Championship contest were able to soak up a lively atmosphere created by the mix of drivers, colourful and exotic sports cars, and the Pirelli grid girls.

Hundreds of Porsche owners filled the venue throughout the day, and they flooded on to the track at the day's end for a special Porsche parade. Porsches from all eras including Classic 911s, highly advanced modern models, and front-engined machines all joined in for a fitting finale.

The next major event at Brands Hatch is the final round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship on 11-12 October. Raceday tickets are available online for £26 with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information please call 0843 453 9000 or click here.