The day Porsche drove three 956s through Melbourne traffic

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

Rothmans WEC team on Prinny group u turn Rothmans WEC team on Prinny group u turn

Imagine driving down Melbourne’s Princes Highway in 1984, when the entire Porsche 956 WEC team passes you in traffic.

November 1984 saw the eleventh round of the World Endurance Championship, and the first round to ever be held on Australian soil here in Melbourne at Sandown Park (as it was then named).

In a 2013 interview with Speedcafe.com, Australian sports car champion Alan Hamilton spoke of his involvement with the series – turning over his Noble Park facility to the competing teams.

Rothmans -WEC-team -on -Prinny -group

It was here, or rather between here and Sandown, where these gobsmacking photos originated from.

Information on these photos are scarce, and there’s been many rumours over the years as to why and how these legendary racers ended up in south-eastern Melbourne traffic. One of the more accepted – though false – tales was that the cars drove from their Australian arrival at Tullamarine airport straight to the track.

Rothmans -WEC-team -on -Prinny -rolling

There are no such records of this. Furthermore, there are no official written records of these cars ever turning a wheel on Melbourne streets.

Hamilton states the Porsche team simply started the trio of 956s up, left the workshop and drove the five or so kilometres down Princes Highway to the track, along with a Volkswagen Kombi support car which is photographed blocking traffic in order to let the race cars make a U-turn.

Rothmans -WEC-team -on -Prinny -LEAD

As for the actual race: One of the 956s piloted by Stefan Bellof took out pole position with a qualifying time of 1:31.6 – shattering the previous lap record held by our own John Bowe, who set a 1:36.9 at the wheel of a Ralt RT4/85 Formula Mondial earlier that year during the final round of the Australian Driver’s Championship. One of the other Rothman team 956s qualified second with a time of 1:32.3 helmed by Jochen Mass.

The three Rothman team Porsches came first, second and eighth respectively.  

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