For its first year in competition in 1969, the Porsche 917 proved tricky to drive and difficult to set up properly. Most drivers testing the car reported being frightened at the wheel of the 917. Despite Rolf Stommelen’s pole position at Le Mans, the fatal crash of John Woolfe proved their fears were founded…
Development continued during the summer and big progress was achieved with a victory at the Zeltweg 1000 km in the Austrian hills, where two cars were entered for the winners, car #29 driven by Jo Siffert/Kurt Ahrens and the #30 driven by Brian Redman/Dick Attwood, finishing third one lap behind the winners, and behind the Scuderia Filipinetti-entered Lola T70 of Jo Bonnier/Herbert Müller.
On this occasion, the two 917 were fitted with lateral flaps in order to improve their road holding. Porsche would return to the Austrian race track at the end of the season to improve the handling and the overall performance of the car, and so determine the characteristics of the 917K that will dominate the next two endurance seasons.