Moments In Motorsport (35): Porsche 935/77 Jochen Mass

For the 1977 World Sportscar Championship, Porsche constructed four examples of its new 935, a 630bhp, twin-turbocharged, 2.8-litre powered variant of the 911 that was given the factory identification 935/77. The previous season Porsche had expected to cruise to the title but due to reliability issues and rule changes plus an unexpected challenge from BMW meant the title was only secured over the final two races.

Moments In Motorsport (35): Porsche 935/77 Jochen Mass

During 1976, Porsche had raced its single-turbo 935 while customers were offered the 934 variant but this changed in 1977 when the 935 was sold to private entrants while Porsche raced the twin-turbo car. The engine was an all-alloy, dry-sump unit with a single overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder and was a development of the original 930 engine.  The 935/77 was easier to drive due to considerably reduced turbo lag and redesigned front suspension that allowed for much lighter steering. Power steering was considered but deemed impractical. Numerous changes were made throughout the car; the lightweight rear suspension could be controlled from within the cockpit and a dual-braking circuit was sourced from the 917. Bodywork was modified for more efficient aerodynamics with a lower moulded front end, a raised rear roof line, larger rear wing and re-profiled rear wheelarch intakes. The chassis was a steel monocoque and the whole car weighed under the required 970kg limit so lead ballast was strategically placed around the car. Top speed increased to 217mph (350kph) and the 0-60mph (96kph) time was 3.0 seconds. Sponsorship was courtesy of Martini which meant the white cars carried the distinctive corporate red and blue stripes that flowed along the length of the bodywork.

The 1977 season consisted of nine races of six hours each, apart from the first race, the Daytona 24-Hours. The Le Mans 24-Hours was also contested but as it allowed a number of different classes to enter, it was not considered eligible by the FIA to be part of the world championship. However, the officials of the FIA continued to promote a divided World Championship, one for open sports prototypes and the GT and saloon car variant, the Championship for Makes. This inevitably diluted the racing and many critics believed it was a deliberate ploy since the increasingly popular sports and GT cars threatened to overshadow the FIA’s premier product, Formula 1.

The photograph shows the 935/77 being driven by Jochen Mass (partnered with Jackie Ickx) during the seventh round held at Brands Hatch. Sixty per cent of the cars entered were Porsches with the Mass/Ickx car being the only 935/77. It was supported by five more 935’s plus a handful of 934’s and RSR’s. The only serious opposition came in the form of a lone BMW 320i Turbo driven by Hans Stuck and Ronnie Peterson that almost took pole position until Ickx turned up the boost and went one tenth of a second faster.  The race started in very wet conditions as Ickx and Stuck were involved in a personal battle. When Stuck crashed the BMW at the fast hawthorns bend, the race was virtually settled but due to the exceptionally wet conditions the race red-flagged after two hours. It was later re-started once the streams of water that flowed across the track had dried. The 935/77 cruised to a two-lap victory ahead of the 935 of Manfred Shurti and Edgar Doren once the track had dried.

From ‘Moments in Motorsport’ by Trevor Legate.


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