When unexpected manufacturers competed in WRC

Porsche is better known for its success in the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race, but is a WRC rally winner too

POTW Porsche

If you were lucky enough to make it to last weekend’s Rallylegend, you would have been treated to a mesmerizing display of heroic cars from rallying’s past and present.

Sadly, a trip to San Marino wasn’t on the cards for me, but I still took a keen interest in all the pictures and results emerging, while adding the event to my ever-growing motorsport bucket list.

One result in particular that caught my eye was Matteo Musti’s victory in Rallylegend’s historic class, driving a Porsche 911 RS.

Porsche? In rallying?

It’s something that always takes me a little while to compute. As I search through the vault of motorsport images that lives rent-free in my head, I of course eventually recall that the German sports car brand has a rich rallying heritage that dates back well before its involvement in the R-GT class of recent years.

But for some reason I’m always slightly perplexed and amazed by the thought of rear-engined 911s sliding their way through special stages.

Cue a visit to Girardo’s picture archive for a history lesson, and to find an image that perfectly illustrates what I mean.

Rally Tour de Corse 23-25 10 1980 Ajaccio (FRA)

I’ve opted for this spectacular snap of Jean-Luc Thérier on the 1980 Tour de Corse. The Frenchman is seen here battling brutish understeer in wet conditions as he navigates one of the rally’s supposed 10,000 turns.

But while any image of a sliding 911 is certainly spectacular, it’s the event from which this picture hails that holds special significance.

Thérier was victorious on Corsica, giving Porsche its second World Rally Championship event victory. And while the marque would continue to win rallies around the world throughout the decade and beyond, the 1980 Tour de Corse marked its final victory to date in the WRC.

So this picture represents a piece of history. A throwback to an era when brands like Porsche, Mercedes and Datsun (Nissan), names that are now synonymous with Formula 1 and sportscar racing, were regularly seen competing at the front of the WRC.

Porsche in rallying. Now it makes sense.