1971 SEASON (Part 3-II) 



 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.

In spite of their power, the Ferraris 512 seem to be already beaten in the fight for the title. The only one to shine was Team Sunoco’s car, at Daytona and Sebring


 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 

The 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.

Team Martini at full approaches a curve in Daytona. With new cars and strong factory backing, the Porsches are assiduous visitors to the leading positions.

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 

At 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.


Jacky Ickx drives the second Ferrari 312P in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Just as in Buenos Aires, the car of Maranello got to command the actions, although it had to desert.

Elford 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.

To 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 engine. 

Suddenly, 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.

Until that moment, the scoreboard favored the House of Stuttgart with three victories; nonetheless, the people at Porsche felt the floor shake under its feet.

And the fiasco arrived. No less than in England, John Wyer´s homeland.


 4th Round: 1000 km. of Brands Hatch 

The 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 and Rodriguez-Oliver

Dechent 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. 

In 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 Aires.

Ferrari also presented a change in Brands Hatch: co-driving with Jacky Ickx was the successful Gianclaudio Regazzoni instead of Mario Andretti.

After 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 extremely humid.

Later, Elford-Redman faced an annoying gas leak, and their teammates Larrousse-Van Lennep fought to maintain the 917 in a straight line, with severe handling problems.

In 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 wheel.

That was when the Alfa Romeos of Stommelen -Hezemans and De Adamich -Pescarolo took the lead decidedly.


Pescarolo leaves its command post to De Adamich in the 54 Alfa Romeo, while the members of Team Autodelta proceed with the refueling. It was in Brands Hatch, where the Alfas achieved its first success in the World Championship of Makes.

However, 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. 

In 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 

In spite of everything, in Monza the Porsches returned to the triumph.

Previously, 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.  

Jacky 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.

However, 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.

The 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 time.

Without a doubt, it is much more interesting than the end of last year´s season.



1971 Season  (III-1)

1971 Season (IV)

1953-1968 SEASON 1969 SEASON 1970 SEASON




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