Victory for Martini-Porsche Team
Nurburgring, May 30th
The ADAC 1,000-kilometre race was held only two weeks after the Targa Florio, so the Porsche teams were still licking their wounds and the Alfa Romeo team was very confident. As at the Targa Florio the Porsche factory loaned 908/03 models to their two main customers, the J.W. Automotive-Gulf team and Hans-Dieter Dechent’s Martini International Racing team, but whereas the factory had been in charge in Sicily the two separate organisations had control once more, with Porsche staff members in close attendance and for the most part looking very worried, the black day in Sicily still hanging heavily over their heads.
The Gulf team had two brand new 908/03 cars, for Rodriguez/Oliver and Siffert/Bell and when they arrived for practice they were far from correctly adjusted for the circuit and throughout practice presented niggling little faults that kept everyone busy and the drivers far from happy. Such things as the gearbox sticking in fifth gear, the brakes feeling peculiar and the handling not creating a great feeling of confidence. The Martini team had two of the Targa Florio cars, one of them looking a bit tatty after an off-the-road excursion during pre-practice testing. They were driven by Elford/Larrousse and Marko/van Lennep, the last-named substituting for Redman, who was not recovered from his Targa Florio accident. Martini also entered their own 908/02 model for the Princes of Hohenzollern and Bayern to drive, but it got no further than the first practice, when Hohenzollern put it off the road!
One of the Martini team Porsche 917 coupés was entered but withdrawn before practice began as van Lennep, who was to have driven it was given a place in the 908/03 team; his co-driver, the Austrian Rudi Lins, was found a seat in an old 910 Porsche with Sepp Greger, the 56-year-old German still driving hard enough to embarrass a lot of newcomers in the amateur ranks.
The Porsche factory had settled for the short and light 908/03 models rather than the powerful 917 Porsches, after carrying out some comparative tests on the newly-surfaced and cleaned-up Nurburgring. Apart from a Formula Two race, this 1,000-kilometre event was the first big race to be held on the Nurburgring since the big overhaul given to the circuit during the winter, details of which are discussed in Continental Notes, elsewhere in this issue.
Alfa Romeo turned out in force, confident of their preparation and reliability and happy once more to be on equal capacity terms with the Porsche teams. They entered four cars and brought five to the circuit, four Tipo 33-3 and the experimental 33TT-3, or 908/03 Porsche copy; there was no intention to race the tubular frame, central-gearbox model, it being on test during practice. Their driver line-up was powerful, but not really as strong as the combined Porsche teams, comprising Stommelen/Galli; de Adamich/Pescarolo, Hezemans/Vaccarella, and Facetti/Zeccoli. The issue looked to be a neat and tidy arrangement of four works Porsches against four works Alfa Romeos, with a supporting cast of small private teams and numerous private-owners, but early in the paddock was the red van from Maranello with the simple, but imposing, word Ferrari on the side, and inside was the 312P that so far has had a pretty chequered career.
Once more it had been rebuilt, the right side being new after the Francorchamps accident, whereas the left side was new after the Monza accident, but it was still the same basic car, with Grand Prix-type 3-litre flat-12-cylinder engine, Grand Prix brakes, gearbox and suspension and with Grand Prix drivers Ickx and Regazzoni to drive it. With the three major teams using 3-litre cars this race was a foretaste of what could be expected in 1972 when the 5-litre sports cars are banned from racing, and it hardly needed practice times to show that Ferrari was a full step ahead of any opposition. The 312P was actually 9 sec. ahead of anyone else during practice, Ickx lapping in 7 min. 36.1 sec., without really trying, and Regazzoni being only a second slower. The surprise was that an Alfa Romeo was next fastest, driven by Stommelen, followed by the two Martini Porsches and then the two Gulf Porsches. As the start was to be a rolling one behind a pace car, with competitors in pairs, it meant that the front row was occupied by two red cars from Italy, followed by the works Porsches. The fourth Alfa Romeo was withdrawn, so that there were eight 3-litre works cars ready to do battle for victory with a very miscellaneous collection of International Amateurs to follow them and pick up places if trouble struck the works cars.
Of these the most likely ones were the rather disreputable-looking 917 Porsche of the Auto Usdau team from Mannheim, driven by Kauhsen/Jöst, the immaculate 512M Ferrari of Müiller/Herzog, the over-decorated 512M Ferrari of Loos/Pesch and the old Lola T70 of the Belgian VDS team, driven by Pilette/Gosselin. There should have been a strong force of cars from the Scuderia Filipinetti under the direction of Mike Parkes, comprising Lola T212 models and Ferraris, but none :appeared. Quite a large contingent of small British teams turned up, the immaculate Chevron B19 of the Worcestershire Racing Association not only being the best turned out, but it was also fastest in practice, driven by Burton and Creasey, while Brian Martin had two of his newly-built Martin cars on the grid, both powered by Cosworth FVA engines until FVC engines are available.
The much-publicised Huron team, sponsored by Camel Filter cigarettes, seems to have foundered, and one of their entries was taken over by a works Daren powered by a Lotus-Vauxhall LV240 twin-cam engine, and driven by Enever and Baker. There were numerous 911 and 914 Porsches, some driven very fast and others rather slowly and a new Dulon had been built from the wreckage of the one involved in the Ferrari crash at Francorchamps. While the Ferrari team were keeping a wary eye on it, Porsche were offering help with their 910 Porsche engine/gearbox unit, possibly looking upon it as an ally in the Stuttgart/Maranello battle! It was significant that the Dulon now sported two large rear-view mirrors.
While the Friday practice was wet and damp, the Saturday one was fine and dry, and race day was ideal with dry conditions and a cloud base keeping the temperature down. The Ferrari team were very confident after their domination in practice and with two good drivers, while the Porsche teams were apprehensive, the usual Porsche uber alles atmosphere being lacking and a slight loss of confidence by the drivers being brought on by troubles that occurred in practice that should not have happened, such as a bolt falling out of the front suspension on Elford’s 908/03 nearly causing him to have a big accident, and the new Gulf cars not being any faster than the 1970 ones had gone last year, and no match at all for the Ferrari.
The J.W. Gulf team, like the Ferrari, were on Firestone tyres, and the Martini team cars were on Goodyear tyres. There should have been 53 cars at the start, but only 51 arrived on the grid, two 911 Porsches failing to leave the paddock, and lined up in pairs the field stretched far out of sight of the pace-car that led them round the South Curve, up behind the pits and round the Northern loop to take a flying-start. Ickx took the 312P Ferrari into the lead and just ran away and led from the opposition without straining at all, and behind him Stommelen (Alfa Romeo), Elford (Porsche 908/03), Siffert (Porsche 908/03), van Lennep (Porsche 908/03), de Adamich (Alfa Romeo), Rodriguez (Porsche 908/03) and Hezemans (Alfa Romeo) were left wondering where he had gone. As expected, little Herbert Müller was leading all the private-owners and Burton was leading the 2-litre runners, just behind the two 908/02 Porsches of Ballot-Lena/Chasseuil and Kraus/Basche. As invariably happens in the ADAC 1,000-kilometre race retirements came thick and fast even on the opening lap, for the Daren-Cosworth SCA of Richardson barely got out of sight of the pits before it blew up, the second Martin car broke a rear upright, one of a team of three nicely prepared Renault Alpines from the German agent broke and a fibre-glass monocoque special powered by a turbocharged 2-litre V6 Ford engine went off the road.
By the end of the second lap of this 44-lap race the eight factory cars were away on their own, with Ickx building up a lead of 10 sec. a lap from the Alfa Romeo of Stommelen, which was being hounded by the Porsches of Elford and Siffert, while van Lennep had dropped back to seventh place behind de Adamich and Rodriguez, the little Mexican not shining in the “Mickey Mouse” Porsche 908/03 the way he does in the powerful 917 Porsches. Ickx had no need to go as fast as he had done in practice and his best lap was a fairly gentle 7 min. 40.8 sec., which constituted a new lap record. However, on lap six he saw the water temperature beginning to rise alarmingly and at the end of the lap he shot into the pits for more water to be added to the cooling system. There were no obvious leaks anywhere so it looked as though the trouble was internal, and while the Ferrari was stationary Stommelen Siffert and Elford went by, in that order.
Alfa Romeo were now leading the race and the German crowd were a bit confused, not knowing whether to applaud a German driver leading the race in an Italian car, or whether to urge on the English driver in the German car that was in second place, for Siffert had dropped back to third place again. Along the final straight Ickx was coming up behind Siffert’s Porsche when he suddenly saw the back wheels waving about in an alarming fashion; the aluminium tube chassis frame was breaking up and the gearbox and the back of the engine parted company from the chassis and Siffert was lucky to drag himself into the pits to retire with “broken engine mountings” to quote Porsche, though I would say it broke its back. The Ferrari was also heading for the pits to have some “jollop” put in the water system to try and stem the internal water leak. All this left Stommelen and Elford well ahead and running in close company, while Rodriguez was a poor third, followed by de Adamich, van Lennep and the Ferrari, with lckx still driving, then came Müller going strongly in his privately owned 512M Ferrari, now ahead of the Hezemans/Vaccarella Alfa Romeo which had lost time with a spin.
Although the Burton/Creasey Chevron B19 had been lapped by the leaders it was still well ahead of the 2-litre category and running like a train, whereas most of the other small cars were in trouble, the second Martin car stopping with a defunct clutch, the Dulon stopping out on the circuit when the driver thought he had an oil leak, and being unable to restart, while the LV240-powered Daren was not as fast as the Wankel-Mazda powered Chevron from Belgium. The GT category was providing the usual close battle between Porsche drivers, who seem to have more fun and excitement than a lot of people with sophisticated sports/racing cars. Two 911 Porsches were within sight of each other battling for the class lead, with Kremer/Neuhaus just in front of Andersson/Barth and Kinnunen/Waldegaard not far behind in a third 911 Porsche.
Having lost one of the Gulf cars and knowing that Oliver was not going to be desperately fast, David Yorke informed the organisers that he was going to switch his drivers and put Siffert in the Rodriguez car at their first refuelling stop, which caused the opposition to sit up and take notice. All the 3-litre cars were planning to run eleven laps on a tankful of fuel and at the end of lap 11 the race seemed to come to shuddering halt and there was pandemonium in pits. Elford got ahead of Stommelen at the end of the lap and was first into the pits for fuel, the Porsche pits being at the head of the line. Stommelen went by down the pit lane to the Alfa Romeo pit at the far end; the Alfa Romeo got away first, driven by Galli, and Larrousse went off in hot pursuit in the Martini Porsche as Ickx appeared in the Ferrari in third place, having refuelled while topping up the water system earlier. Then de Adamich, Rodriguez, van Lennep and Hezemans were all in the pits together in that order, the co-drivers taking over and Siffert taking over the Gulf car. In the midst of all the works cars numerous private owners were in for petrol as well and for a time there seemed to be more cars in the pits than on the track.
As Ickx started lap 13 he was about to move up into second place and by the end of the lap he had not only taken the lead again, but was 23 sec. ahead of Galli in the first of the Alfa Romeos. The little 2-seater Grand Prix Ferrari was making everything else look obsolete, apart from the obvious prowess of the driver over his rivals, but with an engine full of “jollop” the question mark was how long would it last. Rather unexpectedly it was the leading Alfa Romeo that blew up first, Galli coming into the pits at the end of lap 14 with the engine covered in oil, and the car was wheeled away amid a smelly haze of hot oil, with a broken connecting rod. This left Ickx more than 50 sec. ahead of Larrousse in the number one Martini Porsche, followed by Siffert, Pescarolo, Marko and Müller. At this point the first class run of the Worcestershire Chevron B19 came to a stop when it came into the pits and would not restart again due to starter trouble; it was got going again, but had fallen back, and lost even more time when the clutch gave trouble.
The Ferrari had such a huge lead that Ickx was able to stop tor petrol at the end of lap 15 and Regazzoni took over and was away without losing the lead, in spite of the regulation Nurburgring refuelling rigs being much lower than used at other circuits, with consequent loss of pressure.
It was now a question of how long the Ferrari could last, even though it was not being driven hard, and the endurance part of the race settled in, with a few minor flurries of excitement and despair. The LV240-engined Daren had taken over the lead of the 2-litre sports car class, when the Chevron B19 struck trouble, but its lead was short-lived for a rear radius rod mounting pulled away from the chassis and that was that. Müller handed his 512M Ferrari over to Herzog in fine fettle and holding a good sixth place, but three laps later it was back in the pits with the right front tyre in ribbons and the corner of the bodywork smashed in. Herzog had collided with another car and something like a hub-cap or nose fin had neatly sliced the tyre open. Another wheel was fitted, the body taped up and Müller took over again. While he did a couple of laps a spare front body section was brought up from the paddock and he made a stop to have it fitted, but one lap was sufficient to show that it did not fit properly and would not stay in place, so there was nothing to do but retire and forsake a very worthy sixth place. In the GT category the two 911 Porsches were still in sight of one another and their refuelling stops were proving to be important.
At the end of 20 laps the Ferrari lead had dropped dramatically from 20 sec. to 13 sec. and next time round Regazzoni came into the pits. The steady loss of water had caused a cylinder sealing ring to fail and the engine was “cooked”. As the fleet little red car was wheeled away there were sighs of relief from the opposition and Larrousse went into the lead, followed by Siffert and Marko; Porsches were first, second and third, but only by reason of the default of others. It later discovered that the original loss of water on the Ferrari had been from an external pipe and the early overheating had started the internal trouble. At half-distance, which was 22 laps, the Prosches refuelled, Elford took over the leading car Rodriguez got back in the Gulf car and van Lennep in the third place car and the only other car on the same lap as these three was the Alfa Romeo of de Adamich/Pescarolo, the other remaining Alfa Romeo having dropped a fair way back, though holding fifth place.
The GT category had undergone a shuffle for the Kinnunen/Waldegaard Porsche had taken the lead from the Kremer/Neuhaus one and the 911 of Andersson/Barth had spun off into the loose earth on the edge of the track and was stuck. It was announced that Gosselin had also gone off into the mud with the VDS team’s Lola, but this was a deliberate action, for the engine had blown up and he parked the car out of harms way. The three factory Porsches now merely had to circulate and keep out of trouble and no matter what their final order was this was going to clinch the Manufacturers’ Championship for the Stuttgart firm. They were running to a regular schedule of 1 laps to the tank full of petrol, and like trains all three pulled into the pits at the end of 33 laps. Larrousse took over the leading car, its Goodyear tyres being all right to run the remaining 11 laps. but when Rodriguez pulled in it was seen that his front Firestones would not go the distance, so they were changed, and everyone expected Siffert to take over again for the last 11 laps, but Rodriguez just sat in the car, quite prepared to carry on. The second Martini car refuelled and on this the rear Goodyears were changed before Marko rejoined the race.
The fourth place Alfa Romeo had very quick refuel at the end of lap 37, Pescarolo remaining at the wheel, and as the last few laps ran out the Alfa Romeo pit staff didn’t even bother to watch their cars go by, for they were 4th and 5th and providing they kept running they would finish there. In the Porsche ranks things were a bit different, for Rodriguez had been holding the pace of Larrousse, but was now dropping back, obviously in some sort of trouble, and the Martini team urged Marko on to more speed as it looked as though he might be able to take second place, if he could get by Rodriguez, but they were a bit optimistic about the ability of the young Austrian doctor. Rodriguez was in trouble all right as the chassis was breaking up at the front and the left front wheel was leaning in and wearing the tyre out alarmingly, as well as letting the pressure out. On the straight bits it wasn’t too bad, but it felt horrible round the corners and a slice about eighteen inches long had come off the tread. People who didn’t know the tough little Mexican thought that 22 laps were too much for him and he was getting tired, which was hopelessly wrong.
Larrousse brought the first Martini Porsche 908/03 over the line after 44 laps, and nearly two minutes later Rodriguez arrived in second place with Marko mere inches behind, in third place. Then came the two remaining Alfa Romeos, reliably but not fast enough, followed by the grubby yellow and green 917 Porsche of Kauhsen/Jöst, this car winning the Group 5 Sports Car Class. Throughout the race the two private 908/02 Porsches of Ballot-Lena/Chasseuil and Kraus/Basche had seldom been out of sight of each other and on the last lap the former pair snatched the lead to finish 7th. In the GT category the 911S of Kinnunen/Waldegaard suffered a puncture and had to have the spare wheel fitted, and then just before the finish Kinnunen arrived at the pits running on the rim of the left-rear Minilite alloy wheel. They had no other wide rim alloy wheel and tyre available so had to fit s standard Porsche 911S wheel and tyre, and the little Finn carried on with very odd handling, but the delay lost them their class lead, and let the Neuhaus/Kremer Porsche back into the lead.—D.S.J.