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Matt Campbell’s drive of greatness

Australian Porsche Professional Matt Campbell is not at this year’s LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour, an event he holds a strong affinity following victory in the 2019 edition and scored pole the next year.

But there is a good reason why the gallivanting GT ace isn’t at his home GT event, which features primarily a local-based entry this year.

In addition to his regular Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS commitments this weekend at France’s Magny-Cours, Campbell was able to live a long-held ambition to drive one of Porsche’s great Le Mans legends.

Having scored 19 wins at La Sarthe spanning five decades, Porsche holds the record for most victories by a manufacturer in the legendary 24 hour race.

Designed by Norbert Singer in 1982 to contest the FIA World Sportscar Championship and its Group C regulations, the 956 recorded a 6m 11.13s lap of the Nurburgring Nordschleife with the late Stefan Bellof at an average speed of 202km/h.

This record stood for 35 years until Timo Bernhard lowered the mark in a derestricted Porsche 919 Evo.

Many features make the 956 legendary including the aluminium monocoque chassis, the Type-935 2.65-litre, turbocharged flat-6 engine producing 474kw, a dual-clutch gearbox, ground effect aerodynamics and the iconic Rothmans livery.

Just 28 were built by Porsche and one was constructed out of spare parts by Richard Lloyd Racing.

At Le Mans, Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell dominated the 1982 race by leading for the entire 24 hours to give the 956 a win on debut as Porsche completed a clean-sweep of the podium.

The next year, fellow Australian Vern Schuppan took the flag in a 956.

With all this history, Campbell had the chance to slide behind the wheel of the very example that maiden took victory 40 years ago.

“Yesterday was a dream come true and a big tick off the bucket list,” Campbell said through his social media account.

“I got the opportunity to drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Porsche 956 from 1982, with Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell in the famous Rothmans livery.

“After getting a taste for it, this only reaffirmed my wishes that I was able to have racing in the 1970s and 1980s.”

Campbell will suit up for this year’s Bathurst 1000 alongside Lee Holdsworth in his Grove Racing Ford Mustang.