1971 SEASON (Part 3-II)
AFTER THE FIVE FIRST RACES OF THE YEAR
Note appeared in the “Automundo” Magazine Nº312 on May 11th, 1971
Based on what we’ve seen until this moment, the current World Championship of Makes is proving to be much more interesting that last’s year. Although Porsche continues maintaining the supremacy that consecrated it in 1970, the road towards the title is becoming more and more difficult, and its characteristic of absolute dominance of the category has become relative.
1st Round: 1000 km of Buenos Aires
Its debut in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires was overwhelming, in spite of which as much David Yorke as Hans Dechent -respective technical directors of the John Wyer Automotive and International Martini teams- could not disguise their preoccupation on the performance displayed by the Ferrari 312P while it lasted in race. According to Helmuth Bott, head of Porsche’s Experimental Division: "one of these days, that car is going to give us a headache ". And the headache arrived, but by three different fronts.
2nd Round: 24 hs. of Daytona
first headache took place in the 24 Hours of Daytona, courtesy of
the Ferrari 512 of the Team Sunoco (a S transformed into an M), to
which an extremely capable Roger Penske knew how to extract the most
performance out of it, much more wisely than their own creators at Maranello.
If you add to that the human contribution of two good drivers like Mark
Donohue and David Hobbs is added it is perfectly understood why did
they circulated more fluently than Wyer´s 917s
Of its sister cars of Team Martini, it is better left unspoken, since, with its 4.5-litre engines, there was nothing to be done. Apparently Dechent did not trust the durability of the transmission elements and he did not want to risk the race with the 5000cc engines; because, after all, a 24-hour race is to be given a lot of thought. Paradoxically, a modest Porsche 911 was the one in charge to eliminate the Italic-Yankee menace; when Donohue had to brake heavily, due to a blown tyre of Vic Elford´s 917 that circulated ahead of him; the 911 of Charles Perry rammed it from behind.
Rodriguez and Oliver capitalized the 100 minutes lost in the repair of the Ferrari and managed to obtain the second, although not so convincing, triumph of the Porsche-Wyer.
3rd Round: 12 hs. of Sebring
Sebring, the Italian counter-offensive came as a two-car effort.
Again, the fast Sunoco Ferrari was entered, alongside a new official 312P
in charge of Jacky Ickx and Mario Andretti. As if this was not
sufficient, team Alfa Romeo returned, after an absence in Daytona.
As it was anticipated, the Ferrari 312P did not have any problem getting in the pace and rounding the top positions since the start, while the Porsche cars struggled with several problems.
went off track, ruining the body; Siffert ran out of gasoline and was
penalized with four laps for going to look for fuel in a motorcycle, whereas the
irascible Rodriguez distributed contacts right and left. One of its
victims was Mark Donohue who lost 53 minutes repairing the gas tank
damaged by the blow.
the fifth hour of the race, three 3000cc. Italian cars maintained the vanguard:
the 312P and both Alfa Romeo of Stommelen-Galli and De
Adamich -Pescarolo -Vaccarella. A little bit back, Larrousse-Elford
maintained expectant with the Porsche Martini, now with a five-litre
and for deception of thousands of spectators, the problem that Andretti
feared before the start, arrived: the gearbox of the Ferrari literally
blew in pieces forcing its retirement. That was Elford´s cue. Putting
into practice its well-known method to drive faster than the car (as in the 1000
km of Buenos Aires) it was not long before he overtook the Alfas,
hence, winning the race.
that moment, the scoreboard favored the House of Stuttgart with three
victories; nonetheless, the people at Porsche felt the floor shake under
And the fiasco arrived. No less than in England, John Wyer´s homeland.
4th Round: 1000 km. of Brands Hatch
1000 kms of Brands Hatch meant a surreptitious fall in Porsche
actions, in spite of having taken certain measures to reinforce their
representations. Wyer as usual, entered its two habitual pairs: Siffert-Bell
modified its team its by introducing Brian Redman –who was back on
track- sharing the Martini Porsche with a vehement Elford. Larrousse
and Gijs Van Lennep would drive the other car.
order to complement the work of the stronger teams, a third one was entered, the
Auto Usdau, of Manheim, with a Porsche 917 (Willi
Kauhsen-Reinhold Jöst) and a 908 (Dieter Spoerry-Hans Weigel).
The Argentineans Angel Monguzzi and Eduardo Copello, respectively,
had previously co-driven both vehicles with the team’s official drivers in Buenos
also presented a change in Brands Hatch: co-driving with Jacky
Ickx was the successful Gianclaudio Regazzoni instead of Mario
a very quick initial escape of Ickx that culminated with a violent off-track, Wyer´s
Porsches settled comfortably in the lead during most of the race. The
representatives of Team Martini were themselves relegated by a problem of
lack of prevision: they had not placed the rain tires and the tarmac was
Elford-Redman faced an annoying gas leak, and their teammates Larrousse-Van
Lennep fought to maintain the 917 in a straight line, with severe
lap 150 came the most painful defeat for Porsche of the last times. "Seppi"
Siffert had to stop in boxes to change the right front tire, and it was
whereupon the bolt had dilated by the heat, being very difficult to retire the
That was when the Alfa Romeos of Stommelen -Hezemans and De Adamich -Pescarolo took the lead decidedly.
Siffert returned to the circuit, only to stop again minutes later with a
broken gearbox. Teammate Rodriguez had abandoned earlier when the
injection system was obstructed by debris.
spite of the retirement of Stommelen-Hezemans due to a piston breakage, Alfa
Romeo reencountered victory in a pointable race, after 20 years. In addition
it was the first triumph of the marque in a World Championship race.
5º Round: 1000 km. of Monza
spite of everything, in Monza the Porsches returned to the
a high-level meeting carried out in Stuttgart and to which John Wyer,
David Yorke and Hans Dieter Dechent concurred; clarified some
somewhat dark issues regarding the internal conduct of the teams. Each technical
director returned with precise instructions, and the race at Monza
was developed with a more normal proceeding than the previous ones.
Ickx, who seems to have stayed as the titular driver of the Ferrari 312P
could not race by a bad maneuver of its teammate, in this case Arturo
Merzario, who crashed the Porsche 911 of Willi Meier resulting
in retirement. There, Vic Elford took advantage of the situation, racing
away with his characteristic style. Behind him, Siffert and Rodriguez
faithfully obeying the directors of Yorke, made its race betting that Elford
would not last much in that quick pace. And they were right: shortly after, the Porsche
Martini stopped surrounded in a smoke cloud, while metal fragments were
scattered all over the track.
nothing was written, since a puncture delayed Siffert, and allowed Rodriguez-Oliver
to raise themselves with an unobjectionable victory. Behind Siffert-Bell,
the three Autodelta Alfa Romeos did not do more than to confirm
than they are always in the equation and without reliability problems.
races held until the moment, grant Porsche the possibility of leading the
Championship comfortably, although it will not have to neglect. It can’t be
forgotten that there are several candidates with their weapons ready. And
although Jackie Oliver made the best time in the tests for Le Mans,
even surpassing the record of Vic Elford, there will always be a Ferrari,
official or not, and the unbreakable Alfa Romeos to give a scare at any
a doubt, it is much more interesting than the end of last year´s season.
|1971 Season (III-1)