In hot pursuit of a Gulf 917, Gunnar Jeannette hustles this beautifully-kept 908LH around a slippery Laguna Seca at last year’s Rennsport Reunion; keeping his car on the knife’s edge and keeping us on our toes the whole time.
Though the mellifluous flat-eight soundtrack might keep most motoring fans glued to the screen, the technically-minded will stick around for the clever aerodynamics at work on this classic Porsche. In fact, it was the 908LH which marked Porsche’s move towards mastering the wing business that took off in the late sixties.
The rear ailerons are controlled by a series of shafts linked to the rear suspension wishbone. When the suspension compresses over bumps and during lateral loading, the movable aerodynamics change their angle of attack and generate some rear downforce, as described in greater detail here. When the speeds increased and the car wasn’t loaded laterally, the aero profile would change to help with top speed; this system was designed to keep the car slippery on the straights and sticky in the corners.
To take that sort of lateral loading, in those days, was nothing short of incredible. It’s those sort of cornering forces that Jeannette needs in order to keep in touch with a 917 at a power circuit like Laguna Seca. There might be a serious disparity between the two cars in sheer thrust, but plenty of pretty, tail-out antics help Jeannette keep the mighty 917 from becoming a speck on the horizon—for a while, anyways.