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Jurgen Barth

10th December 1947 (Age 72)
Thum, Saxony, (DDR)
Most recent race (in database):

Team Manager, engineer and Le Mans winning driver – Jürgen Barth is as much a Porsche legend as his father ever was. He was born in East Germany close to the Czechoslovakian border in 1947 and was ten-years-old when his family defected to the West.

Early career with Porsche

Barth joined Porsche in 1963 as an apprentice mechanic and his organisational skills were soon evident. He worked in the administration of the rally team and made his competition debut in this form of the sport in 1968 with a Porsche 356. Throughout his racing career, Barth combined driving with the day job as a Team Manager.

He was most famous for his appearances at Le Mans – finishing the great race on all but two of his 12 starts and always in a Porsche. His debut was in 1971 and he won his class a year later with a Porsche 911S. Fourth in the 1975 race when sharing a 908/3 with Reinhold Joest and Mario Casoni, his greatest day came two years later.

Limping to victory at Le Mans

Barth shared a Martini Porsche 936 with Hurley Haywood in the 1977 Le Mans 24 Hours. His build up to the race was unlike any other works driver – booking hotels, arranging catering for the team and tickets for guests. Once the race was underway, they lost almost an hour in the pits changing the fuel pump. Seemingly out of contention, it was decided that Jacky Ickx should help the cause once his own car had retired.

The Belgian superstar helped haul the car back in contention during the night. Barth later recollected that “Ickx was fantastic. I was never so fast but always steady.” They were as much as 14 laps behind the fast-but-fragile Alpine-Renaults but assumed control once the French cars had retired. From 41st position early on, their Porsche seemed set for victory only for the engine to seize with two laps to go. But they were so far ahead that Barth was able to pit and complete the course running on five cylinders.

Final appearances

Second a year later, he won a couple of World Sportscar Championship races during 1980. His third-place finish in the 1982 Le Mans 24 Hours appeared to be Barth’s final result of note as he returned to ties behind the pit wall. However, he did make one final start at Le Mans in 1993 when he won the Group Four class in a Porsche Carrera RSR.