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30 Nov 2022

Legends and idols unite at Icons of Porsche

The 2022 Icons of Porsche festival has cemented itself as the Middle East’s premier automotive exhibition

Words: Richard Watling
Photos: Porsche AG
With winter weather upon us, opportunities to get together get more infrequent so it was a real treat for the Club to be invited to go to Dubai for the Icons of Porsche event taking place in late November. Leaving a very wet and windy Heathrow to land in bright sunshine with the temperature in the early twenties was a great pleasure as was exploring a city which has changed beyond all imagination since I last went there. It is now a vast modern metropolis with endless highways, extraordinary buildings, shopping malls, infinite restaurants and tourist attractions.
There, close to the centre was a large open exhibition area packed with a vast array of Porsche hardware experiences, cafes and bars. A real oasis thronged with enthusiasts from all over the world some in shorts and others in the familiar Arabic dish-dash robes. This is the market that the 2018 Golden Yellow Metallic 911 Turbo S Exclusive was made for since nothing is too bright, exotic or preened to be excluded. Though right next to the sea, the desert is not far away so it was fascinating to see the developments of the E1 Cayenne now an official classic.

Always a very capable off-roader you can now refurb it with an array of accessories, as I discovered from my host Stewart McLaughlin, Senior Product Executive at Porsche Cars Great Britain. I am not sure how many days I could sleep in the roof tent but in an emergency the shelter would be as comfortable as the jerry cans and ropes would be useful when on a trip over the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia to the west. It was unusual for the SUVs to have such prominence and innovation being displayed – but completely in keeping with the place and the show.

But the real hero of the day was the 911 Dakar, and Dubai was the place to launch what to me is one of the most original developments of the 911 ever – a 200kph off-road sports coupe taking inspiration from the Paris-Dakar cars that won this most gruelling of rally raids in 1984 and 1986. Jackie Ickx who with Mr Bott was the inspiration for the original FWD 953/4 and then 959 was there to tell the story of how he persuaded the management to build the prototype for a car which was completely different from the Land Cruisers and trucks that normally undertook this extraordinary 12000km 21-day straight epic advcenture across the Sahara. They took three cars there and brought three home in, in the hands of Rene Metge, Roland Kussmaul and Jackie with his famous French comedy actor Claude Brasseur to navigate (and be good company presumably!).
The first attempt in 1984 was in the SC fitted with a TorSen transmission – the prototype being made from Mr Bott’s company car as head of research, development and racing which was always an integral part of the organisation to ensure that technical development found its way into the road cars. There was a major programme of testing in Algeria and Morocco which stood them in good stead.  The 959 was already in development and was the natural car to build for the second and third events. But to win on the first outing was nothing short of amazing – so rewarding after the years of toil in the Safari Rally without a win.

This was a very serious event with all the top design chiefs on the stage flanked by two members of the Board and the chairman himself Dr Wolfgang Porsche, shortly to celebrate his 80th birthday. Somewhat understandably he was mobbed like a rock star especially by the 20 strong Kuwaiti members jostling for selfies.
Porsche racing royalty was present in the form of Mark Webber, Timo Bernard and Andre Lotterer. It was a real meeting place of clubs from all over the world, delighting in making friends and sharing stories. From the UK more than 30 members had made the trip and were kindly invited by Lee Wilford, Porsche Cars Great Britain Marketing Director to enjoy their hospitality in sight of the extraordinary Burgh al Khalifa and the famous fountain show to round off a brilliant evening.

This was an amazing event in an amazing place and boy do they know how to run an airline and airport. We were all very grateful to be offered the chance to attend and look forward to the possibility of going next year – without the World Cup just down the road!
There seem to be plenty of members with properties in the city or friends to stay with so as well as plentiful hotels of all kinds. I am sure it will continue to be popular with UK members. It looks as though it will be an annual event so pencil it in for next year- it will certainly shorten the winter!

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