1971 Season (Part 2)    



The favoritisms in the odds oscillated between the mighty celestial blue Porsches of John Wyer´s Team, and the surprise enemy embodied in the blue Ferrari of the Sunoco Team, in charge of the North American Mark Donohue and the Englishmen David Hobbs. This particular Ferrari managed at the end of the Friday session, the right to start first, based on a time that destroyed all the previous records established in that circuit.

The minute and forty two seconds achieved by Donohue, reached the 220 km/h average speed mark, and delayed - like Andretti the last year- both of Wyer´s Porsches, after a prolonged duel in which the three machines disputed the right to start in the pole position.

"If the session had followed for one more hour, we could have lowered that time" declared Roger Penske director of the Sunoco Team, while the car was taken to the garages awaiting the great day.  

The Race

For starters, the awaited war occurred. The Sunoco Ferrari leading the way from the start, and Rodriguez and Siffert immediately behind, in its persecution. But after the ten first laps, only the Mexican was glued to the tail of Donohue’s car, while Siffert already began to watch them a little more distant.  

Donohue, with the Sunoco Ferrari 512M of the team Penske. It led, then fought to maintain it, participated in an accident, and finalized third.

With three hours of race, the 917 of Rodriguez-Oliver had taken the lead perfectly guarded by Siffert-Bell.

Jo Siffert stands next to the #1 Gulf Porsche 917 he co-drove with Derek Bell.
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While, Donohue-Hobbs underwent the delay of one long shutdown by a premature fault in the alternator, and now had to be fight against the Porsche 917 of Elford-Van Lennep (Martini Racing Team) which, in spite of running a 4.5litre engine (against the 5-litre Ferraris and both leaders) did a brilliant job.

Well into the fifth hour of race, the motor of the Siffert-Bell Porsche literally exploded, leaving for another race its ambitions to win, or at least to pair with the winning car, which from that moment on, had to manage by itself with its distant but always present pursuers. Behind Rodriguez-Oliver it was located, without brightness but with effectiveness, the Ferrari 512S of Ronnie Bucknum-Tony Adamowicz.

At the first half of the test -three o’clock in the morning- Rodriguez had accumulated the shameful number of 25 laps of advantage above the second place car, while the Ferrari 312P that the Argentinean Nestor Jesus García Veiga in pair with Luigi Chinetti (h) managed third place in a surprising performance.

In the middle of the night, the 917 of the Martini Team piloted by Vic Elford bursted a tire while circulating flat out amidst the banked curve, in the east side. The consequence resulted in a huge spin that sent the car towards the bottom of the ravine and scattering pieces of car in its trajectory. 


Two of the Martini Porsche 917s, one a test car
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The #4 Martini Porsche 917 of Elford and van Lennep retired with body and suspension damage.
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Mark Donohue that was immediately behind, put somewhat behind, went easy on the throttle when he saw the precaution lights ignited, but behind him, a Porsche 911 driven by Charles Perry did not realize the warning lights and hit the Ferrari causing damages in the left part of the bodywork and back suspension. At the Sunoco boxes they took one hour and a half to get the 512 back to the track. At that point, it seemed totally assured the chance for Rodriguez, but still there would be some variations before the chequered flag.

At the end of the night, a torrential rain clouded the skies, and forced everybody to enter boxes for a suitable tire change. For Rodriguez-Oliver -as for the Wyer boxes- the thing became complicated when the 917 started to exhale mysterious whiffs of smoke off the right exhaust pipe.

The enormous advantage that they had, allowed them to reduce the race speed, but when they became aware of it, the Ferrari of Bucknum and Donohue were sent again like foxes after their prey, with more determination and hopes trying to recover the time they had lost in boxes.

Later, the Porsche had problems again, transmission problems, and was stopped for more than an hour. There, the positions began to crowd, and when the 917 returned to the track, Bucknum´s Ferrari had been able to discount all the lost laps and managed to add two laps to its favor with respect of the leader. Nevertheless, Rodriguez - who drove many hours more than the still little practical Jackie Oliver –charged again, and after pushing during the noon to a rhythm similar to the one of the beginning of the race, he managed to catch and overtake the 512S and again turn the scoreboard to his favor.

Meanwhile, Donohue -that had also driven the double that Hobbs- was able to put itself just ten laps behind the leaders as the afternoon and the end of the race came. The 24 Hs. of Daytona 917 were closely decided after a distressing end in favor of the Porsche 917, thanks to the Mexican, who knew to contain the charge of Bucknum and Donohue that finished in that order with their Ferraris in one of the most close finishes on the history of the event.

Ferrari did a good performance in the hands of privateers. They did not enter Daytona in official form, still maintaining the mourning by the death of Ignazio Giunti. Some people there speculated that it was is a good excuse for Il Commendattore not to appear, because of the fear to lose against Porsche

Evidently Porsche, on behalf of the Gulf-Wyer team and its drivers, counted with the best organization than it has ever been known of. While everything worked well, the differences with the others were scandalous; at the time when problems arised, the work at pits and boxes was an example of what should be done - and of how it must be done- demonstrating that their people do not to surrender until the car cannot run one more meter.

And when there was to overcome the adversity in the track, Rodriguez confirmed again that its long leaf of triumphs is not product of the chance or the good luck, but of an aggressive and quick driving, but mainly, very effective. The followers of David Yorke fulfilled again, to demonstrate that they are the authentic, unquestionable champions of the category, and as the reward, they take nine points more for the contest of this year.

The winners Rodriguez-Oliver 

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The Gulf Wyer mechanics push the first place car into the winner's circle. 

See the race statistics




 Note of the Automundo Magazine Nº 305 of the 23rd of March of 1971 - page16

The third race of the World Championship of Makes, ended amidst a small controversy, in which Porsche obtained its third consecutive triumph. The marque, in this way, remained unbeaten all year long. The appointment was in Sebring, where the traditional 12 Hours reunited to most distinguished of the Sport and Sport Prototype categories, giving form to an interesting test.

The scandal at issue took place when, at the end of the race, Roger Penske owner of the Ferrari 512 driven by Mark Donohue and David Hobbs, presented a formal protest, complaining about the unsportmanlike and unlawful attitudes of the members of the Official Porsche Team, commanded by John Wyer.

However, Porsche’s victory did not arrive thanks to this team, but instead, came in hands of the Team Martini and the conduction from Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse, escorted to the finish line by two Alfa Romeo 33/3 and only after them, the 917´s of Wyer, and ultimately the Ferrari of Donohue-Hobbs.


The race, which was disputed in the traditional circuit of 8,366 meters of extension, had a surprising and anxious development, by virtue of the excellent performance displayed by most of the 3,000 c.c. class contenders. These fought equal to equal with the more powerful 5-litre Sport class, and they even surpassed them during the lengthy race.

When the 57 participants started up, the Ferrari of the Team Sunoco lead by Donohue took the lead with Rodriguez, Andretti and Galli close behind. With that scenery, the fight of marques was expected from the beginning in all its intensity. However, the eyes of all the presents were put on the machine of Italian-American driver, Andretti who, with Ickx, had the responsibility to drive the second Ferrari 312P that Maranello had provided, as the first model of this type was completely wrecked during the 1000 km of Buenos Aires resulting in the death of Italian pilot Ignazio Giunti

The new unit, which was previously tested in Italy in exhaustive form, had demonstrated the same conditions that her wrecked twin car, and it was feared that during the race she could still become serious threat for the cars of greater displacement.

Little by little during the race, its aptitudes were confirmed and, when the clocks indicated that the first hour had been marked, Andretti was second after the 917 of Siffert, while the Rodriguez, Donohue, and Galli -this one in an Alfa Romeo-occupied the following places.

It was then, when Wyer´s team made its first mistake: Siffert´s car ran out of gasoline far from the pit area; and the Swiss grabbed a small motorcycle and headed for the pits. Once there, he took a can of fuel, then returned to the place where his car was parked, he threw in the fuel, and he followed in race. In spite of the evident transgression to the rules, measures against him were not taken, which resulted in a tense atmosphere in the pit area. In any case, the time lost in this incident, moved the 917 away of the first place, which fell into the hands of Andretti and his 312P.

To the two hours, Donohue and Rodriguez -in that order- overtook Andretti, although shortly after, Donohue would be again relegated to third place in another clear demonstration of the fierce battle to obtain the top positions.

Around the three hours, however, another problem took restlessness to all the presents: the Ferrari 512 of Gregory Young jammed the accelerator in a quick curves zone, and lost stability. After five flips in the air, the car stopped, the driver left the wrecked car by his own means and, moments later, the car exploded in flames. Young who visited Buenos Aires for the GP of the Argentine Republic was miraculously unharmed.


The most dramatic moment of the race: the Ferrari 512 of Gregory Young flies in spectacular form during one of the five flips that it gave. Then it exploded. The pilot, miraculously unharmed


Until the seventh hour of race, the lead continued changing hands alternatively between Andretti-Ickx, Rodriguez-Oliver and Donohue-Hobbs, although the comeback of Elford-Larrousse´s 917 was noticed, since they managed to get to the fourth place with maintained rate. It was then when several things made the panorama change: while the 312P had to abandon because of transmission problems, Rodriguez and Donohue dangerously touched in a curve, being both cars mildly deteriorated, which forced them to stop in pits. 

This way, the lead surprisevly fell into the hands of Stommelen who, moments before had surpassed Elford-Larrousse that were in second place, although this lasted only a few laps, since they re-took the lead rapidly.

Nevertheless, as a result of the contact carried out by Donohue and Rodriguez the tense climate returned to seize the pit area. The American pilot, visibly altered, blasphemed against the Mexican, accusing him of deliberately hitting his car several times before both cars dangerously collided.

This circumstance was taken in advantage by  De Adamich-Pescarolo´s Alfa Romeo that thus advanced until the fourth position. Three hours left to finish, the classification was the following: 1º) Larrouse-Elford 2º) Galli-Stommelen 3º) Rodriguez-Oliver 4º) De Adamich-Pescarolo 5º) Siffert-Bell 6º) Donohue-Hobbs 7º) Peter Revson-Swede Savage with Ferrari 512 8º) Luiggi Chinetti (son)-George Eaton with the Ferrari 312 that the Argentinean García Veiga ran in Daytona 9º) Greenwood-Emothers with Chevrolet Corvette and 10º) Jim Lock-Burt Everett with Porsche 911.

From the first to the second place there was one lap of difference, while the third was four laps behind, fourth place nine laps behind, and fifth place fourteen laps behind.

Finally, due to another pitstop of Rodriguez-Oliver, De Adamich-Pescarolo ascended to the third position and, from then on, the privilege positions were not modified.


As soon as the test culminated, Roger Penske made official its protest against Wyer´s cars, which could be summarized in three fundamental points:

1) The Porsche 917 of Rodriguez-Oliver, after the contact with Donohue’s Ferrari continued in race without one of its mudguards, hence a considerable less percentage of body panels.

2) The Porsche 917 of Siffert-Bell should not have been sanctioned but instead, disqualified, when the Swiss went in a small motorcycle to look for gasoline.

3) The engine of this last car was not stopped during refueling in lap 149 as it is foreseen in the regulations.

Consequently, the official results of the race were given in provisional form, anticipating new developments on the matter in the next days.  


As balance is that the powerful team of John Wyer lost its undefeated status, undergoing a serious misfortune, since, it was even surpassed by less powerful cars, like the Alfa Romeo 33/3.This agrees with what had already been glimpsed in Daytona when the official 917´s won, although unconvincingly.

Now, the parade of the World Manufacturers Championship will return Europe, where the match, in spite of being in its initial face, can reach a quick definition by virtue of the advantage obtained by the German marque to the moment.  

See the race statistics




Ganó el Alfa Romeo T33/3 del Autodelta Spa conducido por Andrea de Adamich-Henri Pescarolo. Segundos fueron Ickx-Regazzoni con una Ferrari 312PB y terceros el mejor 917, de Siffert-Bell.

Foto colaboración de Philippe Moriniere

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En las fotos de arriba puede verse al Porsche 917K #9 del International Martini tripulado por Gijs Van Lennep-Gerard Larrousse, quienes finalizaron en el noveno lugar

Gijs Van Lennep-Gerard Larrousse

El 917 de Rodríguez-Oliver. Abandonaron


See the race statistics

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