Built as the racing version of the Porsche 959, the 961 had a very short life. At the beginning of the ’80s when Group B and Group C were conceived to modernize the World Sports-Prototype Championship, Porsche created the 956 as a Group C car and a concept, simply called Porsche Group B, to join this class for which it was mandatory to have a production version in order to compete.
So Porsche Group B concept car become the Porsche 959 but by the time this street-legal car was ready, Gr. B rules had been altered to better suit the class for WRC use penalizing the Sports-Prototype Championship. Porsche however went ahead in the 959 production in order to reach the approval number and to continue the development of a 959-based race car.
Taking a 959, chassis 10016, the new race car was called 961 and it was the only one ever created and raced. Keeping the 4WD layout used in the 959, the 961 is still one of the very few car to ever race the Le Mans 24h with a four-wheel drive system. It was powered by a 2.9-litre twin-turbo flat-6 engine that was able to produce 680hp at 7800 rpm (lowered at 640hp during the race) and 650 Nm of torque. It did only 3 races: 1986 Le Mans 24h (7th overall), 1986 3 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 24h of Le Mans where the car caught fire. After this the project was cancelled but the 961 was repaired and put on display in Porsche’s own museum.