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Porsche congratulates motorsport legend Kurt Ahrens on his 80th birthday
A weekend racing driver – as compensation for the work in the family business
. The former
He started his racing career in 1958, proved himself first in Formula 3, and was the Formula Junior German Champion in 1961, 1963 and 1965. He was considered to be one of the most promising German talents in formula sport, and moved up to Formula 2, where he enjoyed further success. The next step was Formula 1, where he lined up alongside Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt in the Brabham-Repco at the German Grand Prix on the Nürburgring in 1968 – but this would be his only Formula 1 start.
This Formula 1 experience showed Kurt Ahrens the demands placed on a professional driver in the premier class of motorsport. For him, however, motor racing was above all there to provide a counterpoint to his everyday work in the family business, a recycling company. For this reason, he decided against a career in Formula 1. “I was needed in the company, and that meant I could not afford to do the whole thing professionally. I enjoyed driving at the weekend, but on Monday I had to put all that behind me again,” he says looking back.
From then on, Kurt Ahrens made a great success of his race weekends – as a
The first triumph for the 917, in the last race of the year, was a glorious conclusion to a season marked by extensive testing and development work. For Ferdinand Piëch and the overall 917 project, this first victory by Kurt Ahrens and Joseph Siffert was of the greatest importance, because the 917 finally proved its performance capability on the Österreichring circuit after its disappointing failure to finish in Le Mans. In October 1969, Ahrens was also involved in the crucial test drives in Zeltweg, which ultimately resulted in the successful short-tail version of the 917 for the upcoming season.
In the following year, Kurt Ahrens was able to seamlessly follow up on this success, winning the 1,000 kilometre race at the Nürburgring in a
He shared the cockpit of the 917 long tail with Vic Elford in Le Mans in 1970. The heart of the Circuit de la Sarthe – then around 13.5 kilometres long – was the legendary Mulsanne Straight, which at the time did not yet have any chicanes: six kilometres long, a slash through the landscape, made for the 400 km/h mark. “Not a problem,” says Ahrens. He was always completely at home in the further developed 917. But that was still different in the year before. “It was an absolute nightmare – the car fishtailed excessively at 350 km/h and the rear lifted when braking hard. Rolf Stommelen and I had to ease off the throttle around 380 km/h,” he remembers. So Ahrens and Elford kept their foot down. The clock stopped at 3:19.08 minutes. This time put the pair right at the front in pole position. They held the lead for a long time in the race, until a technical defect forced them to retire.
That same year, Kurt Ahrens retired from motorsport at the age of just 30 to spend more time with his wife and four children and to look after the business. A remarkable fact: he competed in more than 300 races, but never had an accident or wrote off a car. Today, Ahrens still accompanies the
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